The Royal Shakespeare Company continues its commitment to creating live theatre for young people with its First Encounter production of The Taming of the Shrew.

Directed by Michael Fentiman, and aimed at 8-13 year olds, the production will open in February 2014 in Stratford-upon-Avon before embarking on a six week UK tour of schools and regional theatres, including St George\'s Hall in Bradford and Bingley Grammar School, then travelling to the US to play at The Ohio State University. 

With male actors playing female roles, and vice versa, this First Encounter production tells the story of two people\'s crazy journey towards becoming the perfect match.  Using an edited version of the original text, it will also include an introduction to the performance and a chance to hear from the actors, to create a great first experience of seeing Shakespeare live. 

RSC Associate Artists, Katy Stephens and Forbes Masson will take on the lead roles: Katy as Petruchio and Forbes as Katherine. Katy\'s recent RSC credits include Titus Andronicus, Candide, As You Like It, King Lear and The Histories, for which she won WhatsOnStage\'s Best Actress Award.  Forbes\' RSC credits include As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet and The Histories, with work elsewhere including Macbeth (Trafalgar Studios) and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Kensington Palace Gardens).

The cast also includes: Claire Brown (Grumio), Caroline Faber (Hortensio), David Fielder (Baptista), Chris Jared (Bianca), Mimi Ndiweni (Lucentio),Ann Penfold (Gremio) and Anjana Vasan (Tranio).
The production is designed by Colin Richmond with music and sound by Tom Mills.
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Michael Fentiman, director, said:
\"Our production will embrace a spirit of mash up and confusion. Girls dressed as present day males will play the boys - but without beards. Boys dressed as Elizabethan females will play the girls - but with beards. Feminine and masculine are thrown around so that the audience can focus on a story about two extraordinary people, who find each other in the midst of madness, fighting like cat and dog, but, in doing so, fall madly in love.\"

Michael\'s work for the RSC includes his recent production of Titus Andronicus, Ahasverus by Vassily Sigarev, YPS Hamlet (as Associate Director), and As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet (Assistant Director).  Other credits include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Kensington Palace Gardens, co-director with Rupert Goold), Crackers (Belgrade, Coventry), Spoonface Steinberg (UK tour) and East (UK tour).

The tour of The Taming of the Shrew forms part of the RSC\'s Learning and Performance Network (LPN), a three year touring and education partnership with five regional theatres and their local schools:  Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury; Alhambra Theatre, Bradford; The Grand Theatre, Blackpool; Curve, Leicester; and the New Vic in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Jacqui O\'Hanlon, RSC Director of Education said:
\"Our First Encounter Series for young audiences aims to give children and young people a vivid and enjoyable first experience of Shakespeare\'s work. The Taming of the Shrew is a provocative play that I hope will challenge, intrigue and ultimately delight audiences of all ages, but particularly the young people for whom it has been created. The production will tour to regional theatres and schools across England who work in partnership with us through the Learning and Performance Network, a programme that aims to transform young people\'s experiences of Shakespeare. The RSC is committed to taking its work out nationally, ensuring that more people can participate in it. We are delighted that the production travels into the heart of communities, playing in a variety of different spaces, from primary school halls to main house stages. Along with our regional theatre partners and schools we look forward to meeting new audiences in all of the different venues, providing a great first introduction to Shakespeare\'s extraordinary plays and sowing the seeds for a life-long relationship with them.\"

The production plays in schools and theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon, Canterbury, Bradford, Blackpool, Leicester, London and Newcastle-under-Lyme, and includes a visit to Ohio State University.

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