The RSC is looking for the perfect Bottom hiding among groups of amateur actors cast to take part in its A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation.
A total of 14 amateur theatre groups will play the Mechanicals, thespian labourors, who will appear alongside a company of professional actors in a national tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Led by deputy artistic director Erica Whyman, the RSC’s creative team has travelled more than 2,000 miles to audition nearly 600 amateur theatre makers in 95 workshops.
Each group represents a region or nation of the UK.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation sees the RSC working with 13 partner theatres, 84 amateur performers and 580 schoolchildren, alongside 18 professional actors and the creative team.
This national celebration of Shakespeare will visit each region and nation of the UK. In each area local amateur theatre companies will play the Mechanicals with Titania’s fairy train played by local schoolchildren.
The production opens in Stratford-upon-Avon at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in February before embarking on a nationwide tour and returning to Stratford with the entire company next June.
WEST MIDLANDS: The Nonentities from Kidderminster and The Bear Pit from Stratford-upon-Avon NORTH EAST: The Castle Players from County Durham and The People’s Theatre from Newcastle SCOTLAND: The Citizens Dream Players from Glasgow NORTH WEST: Poulton Drama from Blackpool YORKSHIRE: Leeds Arts Centre from Leeds, performing in Bradford SOUTH EAST: The Canterbury Players from Canterbury EAST OF ENGLAND: The Common Lot from Norfolk EAST MIDLANDS: Lovelace Theatre Group from Hucknall, performing in Nottingham SOUTH WEST: Carnon Downs Drama Group from Truro LONDON: Tower Theatre from East London WALES: Everyman Theatre from Cardiff NORTHERN IRELAND: Belvoir Players from Belfast
The amateurs are cast from all walks of life. In Glasgow the Bottom owns an estate agency and Snug is a former policeman. The Newcastle Bottom, from County Durham, is a pub landlord. The Canterbury Bottom completed the London marathon last year.
A local primary school principal plays Snout in Belfast, and Snug is a painter and decorator. Bottom is a teacher and rugby player in Truro, Snug’s a caretaker and Starveling is a council officer in waste management.
The Cardiff Flute works for the railway and Snout works in a patisserie. In the Midlands, Flute is the vice-captain of a local rugby club and Quince is an ex-army officer. In Norwich an IT trainer will play Flute with a customer support worker playing Bottom.
And in London, Snug is a private hire driver and Quince a GP – just a flavour of some of the people who are now set to perform on both their local theatre’s main stage and at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Erica Whyman said: “It has been a thrill and a privilege to meet so many talented and dedicated amateur actors from all over the United Kingdom.
“We have cast people from all kinds of backgrounds, with a wonderful range of voices, shapes and sizes, but every single one of them has already demonstrated tremendous courage, skill and hard work to have survived the audition process and be selected to star in A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.