Open stages at RSC

By IH 06/07 Updated: 06/07 11:29

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Buy photos » Baba Shakespeare is among the first productions being staged as part of the RSC's Open Stages. (s)

A BELFAST Julius Caesar, a Royal Navy Much Ado About Nothing and a musical version of Henry VIII are among the first productions being staged as part of the RSC's Open Stages.

Eight amateur companies will perform in Stratford as part of World Shakespeare Festival Stage over two weekends, from July 13 to 15, and July 21 and 22.

The companies were selected from 263 groups participating in the RSC’s Open Stages project celebrating amateur theatre across the UK. The productions include:

* Baba Shakespeare - London-based The Tower Theatre Company performs a new play inspired by the real-life experiences of the actress Felicity Kendal’s family. The play follows a troupe of travelling British players in 1960s India as they journey from desert palace to hill station, performing Shakespeare amid declining audiences and changing circumstances.

* Julius Caesar - set on the Shankill Road in Belfast in the early 2000s during a loyalist feud. Performed by The Rainbow Factory, an inner-city theatre group made up of young amateur performers, this production uses Shakespeare’s tragedy to explore themes from the recent past including the relationships between those in power and the role of violence in society.

* MacBeth in Scots - Edinburgh Theatre Arts Company performs Shakespeare’s darkest tale for the first time in old Scots.

* Pocket Dream - Riverside Drama Company performs a new production of the play inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With actors in dispute with the theatre management and refusing to leave The Cricketers pub, a cast is cobbled together resulting in an array of comic costumes, romantic confusion and fun.

* Henry VIII the Musical - Walden Musical Theatre Company performs a new musical about the life and times of one of England’s most famous kings and the subject of one of Shakespeare’s least known plays. Performed by a 35 strong cast of young amateur performers.

* The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) - the RSC’s local production comes from Stratford's own Tread the Boards Theatre Company. Described as an irreverent inventive, riotous romp through the Bard's work, three actors attempt the seemingly impossible - to perform all Shakespeare’s plays in one evening.

* Much Ado About Nothing - The Royal Navy Theatre Association, made up of serving Royal Navy personnel and their friends and relatives, present Much Ado About Nothing, starring two sets of lovers drawn from a troop of Royal Marines returning from Afghanistan.

* The Witches of Macbeth - RSC Open Stages in partnership with the Drama Association of Wales held a Shakespeare-themed, regional competition as part of the Welsh Regional One Act Theatre Festival. The Witches of Macbeth from Phoenix Theatre Company were the winners, thus securing themselves an invite to perform in Stratford.

RSC Open Stages producer Ian Wainwright said: “We’re delighted with the selection of exciting amateur companies and productions we have programmed from our Open Stages regional partner theatres.

"Both weekends will showcase fantastically diverse, original productions, giving audiences an idea of the variety of amateur groups in the UK and the breadth of their work. Above all, these events are a great celebration of the talent, commitment and passion of amateur theatre-makers across the country.”

For tickets and further details visit www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/open-stages or call the box office on 0844 800 1110.

* AN EVENING of new theatre can be seen at The RSC Pilot Night at The Courtyard Theatre on Thursday July 12).

Established a decade ago by a group of independent theatre makers in Birmingham, Pilot Nights were set up to help artists from the West Midlands develop new work by giving them a platform to try out their material in front of live audiences.

Tickets, priced £5, and further details as above.

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Buy photos» Baba Shakespeare is among the first productions being staged as part of the RSC's Open Stages. (s)

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