THE MAGICIAN’S Elephant will be the Christmas production presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford this year.
The world stage premiere of the new musical adaptation is based on the novel by international best-selling author Kate DiCamillo and will run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from October 29 to January 17.
Sarah Tipple will direct the production which aims to build on a successful tradition of new work created by the RSC for family audiences at Christmas – the likes of Matilda and The Boy in the Dress.
The Magician’s Elephant tells the story of orphan Peter Augustus Duchenne, who lives a frugal life in the lonely town of Baltese. Then one day, a magician conjures an elephant from the sky. The animal’s appearance sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that it changes Baltese forever.
Peter is catapulted into the quest of his life, overturning everything he ever thought he knew, and discovering that happiness can come from the most unexpected places.
The RSC will also present an epic staging of Henry VI as part of its winter season in Stratford.
The Wars of the Roses, directed by Owen Horsley with Gregory Doran, will see the three parts of Henry VI split across two performances telling the story of the brutal struggle for the English crown.
The plays will be presented by one company of actors in a newly configured Swan Theatre from October 10 to January 2.
The Swan auditorium will feature new grandstand seating and 100 standing arena spaces to give audiences the opportunity to immerse themselves in the action. The history play story will conclude in 2021 with Richard III.
The RSC First Encounters with Shakespeare series returns in September 2020 with a new production of Twelfth Night, directed and edited by Robin Belfield.
For over a decade the RSC has taken First Encounters productions – edited versions of the plays performed using Shakespeare’s original language – on the road into the heart of communities. They have been enjoyed by over 100,000 people to date.
The production will open at local schools followed by performances in the Swan Theatre, before a tour of partner schools and regional theatres across England.
And there will be a Winter Revel at Halloween when the RSC will open its doors to intrepid revellers for a haunting all-night party inspired by the ghosts and gore of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Something Wicked: A Halloween Revel will see the RSC buildings transform with a bewitching programme of live pop-up performances, midnight feasting, immersive storytelling and live music culminating in an all-night sleepover at The Other Place.
RSC artistic director Gregory Doran said: “When I became artistic director, I wanted to stage every Shakespeare play in the canon once. We are more than two thirds of the way through that journey, which will conclude at the end of 2021.
“We began with Richard II in 2013, developing the History cycle with the two Henry IVs and Henry V. We played all four shows as one cycle in London and New York, and took the productions to China, the first time the plays had ever been performed there.
“This journey now continues with The Wars of the Roses, our two-part staging of Shakespeare’s epic history cycle which he wrote as Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3. If you want to understand the dangerous world we live in, with its divisive politics, the rise of demagoguery and the threat of despotism, then you need look no further than Shakespeare’s early history plays.
“The beautifully crafted storytelling of Kate DiCamillo’s The Magician’s Elephant and the mischievous comedy of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, ensure that Shakespeare’s spirit of interrogation, invention and creativity is alive and well in the most exciting creative voices of today.”
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