Set across a 16-year span from Mad Men to the moon landings, this new production - directed by RSC Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman – tells the story of King Leontes, whose jealousy rips his family apart and has lifelong consequences. Erica said:
“I am particularly excited to be directing The Winter’s Tale as it is one of my all-time favourite plays. It is a story of a man with immense power, who abuses it in the grip of a totally consuming paranoia, but then comes to his senses on a very public platform and apologises - without limit or excuse. That seems to me an act of such rare humility, that to do justice to it Shakespeare conjures a true fairytale, in which grief, repentance, patience, love and common sense are all in the end rewarded.”
“I’m setting my production in the 1950s in a monarchy that has known fascism - an imagined Spain where politics, religion and power are deeply intertwined, moving later to 1969 in the North East of England in which real labour and a deep sense of community seems gloriously healthy, loving and straightforward by comparison.
It is a privilege to be able to share this wonderful play with audiences around the country. I am passionate about ensuring the RSC means what it says about Shakespeare being for everyone, and being invited to tour to these welcoming and ambitious theatres is a significant plank of making that a reality. I’ve been moved and encouraged by our audiences nationally: from my production of A
Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation in 2016 to my 2018 production of Romeo and Juliet, I’ve seen first-hand what it can mean for a community to engage with our productions, and I look forward to the next chapter in that journey.”
The Winter’s Tale tour forms part of the RSC’s ongoing mission to create a nation of Shakespeare and theatre lovers around the country. Working hand-in-hand with its partner theatres, the local community, and Associate Schools, the RSC wants anybody aged 3 - 103 to have the opportunity to feel the transformative power of theatre and Shakespeare.
In the lead up to the production arriving in Bradford, Newcastle upon Tyne and Canterbury, the RSC and those venues will work with local schools and communities who might not normally visit the theatre, to create their own responses to the play. These will be performed in and around those theatres, with more details to be announced.
The production’s music is composed by Isobel Waller-Bridge, who has previously worked with Erica Whyman on her productions of Hecuba and The Seven Acts of Mercy. Her other soundtracks include Vanity Fair (ITV/Amazon), Vita and Virginia (Protagonist Pictures), Fleabag (BBC/Amazon), Woyzeck (Old Vic) and Knives in Hens (Donmar Warehouse).
Joseph Kloska plays Leontes. His previous RSC credits include Imperium, Written on the Heart and Measure for Measure. He also appeared in The Christmas Truce, the first production Erica Whyman directed for the RSC. Joseph’s TV and film work includes The Crown, Foyle’s War and Made in Dagenham.
Kemi-Bo Jacobs makes her RSC debut playing Hermione. Her previous theatre credits include All My Sons (Manchester Royal Exchange), Hedda Gabler (Salisbury Playhouse), Betrayal (Derby Theatre), and Wild East (Young Vic). TV work includes Lewis and Doctor Who.
Ben Caplan also makes his RSC debut playing Camillo. Well known for his role as Sergeant Peter Noakes in the BBC’s Call The Midwife, Ben’s other TV credits include Silent Witness, Midsomer Murders, and the BAFTA award winning, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries. Recent stage work includes The Exorcist (Bill Kenwright productions), Describe The Night (Hampstead Theatre) and The Knowledge (Charing Cross Theatre).
Amanda Hadingue plays Paulina. Her previous RSC credits include Miss Littlewood (directed by Erica Whyman), The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich, The Duchess of Malfi, The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew and The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes. Other theatre work includes Top Girls and A Small Family Business (National Theatre).
Andrew French plays Polixenes. Andrew’s previous RSC credits include Erica Whyman’s production of Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caesar. TV work includes A Very English Scandal, EastEnders, Marvin Can’t Fail and Holby City.
Further cast includes: Alice Blundell (Dorcas), Alfred Clay (Archidamus), Colm Gormley (Antigonus), William Grint (Young Shepherd), Vicky Hall (Mopsa), Avita Jay (Cleomenes), Zoe Lambert (Shepherdess),Georgia Landers (Perdita), Mogali Masuku (Dion), Dyfrig Morris (Mariner), Baker Mukasa (Lord), Anne Odeke (Autolycus), Bea Webster (Emilia) and Assad Zaman (Florizel).
Joining Erica Whyman on the creative team are Tom Piper (Set Designer), Madeleine Girling (Costume Designer), Prema Mehta (Lighting), Isobel Waller-Bridge (Music), Jeremy Dunn (Sound), Kate Waters (Fights), and Anna Morrissey (Movement).