Paul Copley, most recognisable recently for his portrayal of Mason in Downton Abbey, is to make his Royal Shakespeare Company debut this autumn/winter to take the title role in Tim Crouch’s new 75 minute stripped down version of King Lear. Touring schools and theatres from 11 September to 1 December 2012, the production will visit Southampton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Truro, Hull, York, Birmingham and The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford upon Avon, as well as making a brief visit to the states to play in Ohio and New York.
In keeping with previous RSC Young Persons’ Shakespeare (YPS) productions, this version of Lear aims to be accessible to younger audiences. A royal family gathers for Christmas and the father broadcasts his seasonal message. He’s giving up work and dividing his kingdom. With this misjudged act, the natural order is turned upside down and the scene is set for a story of family break-up, homelessness and heartbreak.
Tim Crouch said: ‘With the RSC’s Young People’s Shakespeare, the audience is the focus; they guide my hand with the edit and our work in rehearsal. It’s a privilege for me to repay their influence with one of the greatest plays ever written.’
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April 2012 will see the Royal Shakespeare Company work with five new theatres as part of their touring and education partnership. Regions such as Hull, Newcastle and Southampton will take part in the RSC’s Learning and Performance Network (LPN).
The RSC is currently working with 400 primary and secondary schools through the LPN across the UK. The project, which was established in 2006, involves taking professional RSC artists to work with students from all different backgrounds and changing the way they experience and explore Shakespeare. Partnerships made with participating schools and theatres last for three years, providing students with long term exposure to Shakespeare.
Hull Truck Theatre Company, Newcastle Theatre Royal, York Theatre Royal, Hall for Cornwall and Nuffield Theatre, Southampton are the new additions to the long list of theatres involved in the LPN. The theatres will run three-year programmes with schools in the surrounding area offering local artists, students and teachers the opportunity to develop their training, teaching and performance skills with RSC artists. The 2012/13 schedule will see schools and theatres explore King Lear.
For more information visit: www.rsc.org.uk/education/lpn