The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced the artistic programme for their 2017 Spring/Summer season. The season will mark 2000 years since the death of poet Ovid, leading with four of Shakespeare’s most political and bloody plays, set in and around ancient Rome.
RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, said: “Ovid was probably Shakespeare’s greatest inspiration and his stories are sprinkled throughout his plays, most prominently the comedy of Pyramus and Thisbe in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Julius Caesar begins the season, with the politics of spin and betrayal turning to violence in a race to claim the empire, after the all-conquering Caesar returns from war.
Next is Anthony & Cleopatra. Following Caesar’s assassination and his own rise to power, Mark Antony chooses a life of decadent seduction with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, where his military brilliance deserts him and his passion leads the lovers to their tragic end.
The decay of Rome reaches its violent depths in Shakespeare’s bloodiest play Titus Andronicus. Titus is a ruler exhausted by war and leaves Rome in disarray, with rape, cannibalism and brutality filling the moral void at the heart of a corrupt society.
Coriolanus concludes the season, as famine stalks Rome and the citizens’ rise up. The rioting is halted by war and Caius Martius leads the Roman Army to victory, but the people turn against him and he is banished. He vows revenge and returns at the head of the Volscian army to march on Rome.
A series of debates will explore the power dynamics of Shakespeare’s Rome through the lens of politics today. Shakespeare’s Rome Debates will be led by panels consisting of directors and actors from the season.
The season will be accompanied by Draw New Mischief, a new, free exhibition from March to September, looking at 200 years of British political cartoons inspired by Shakespeare.
For more information and to book tickets visit the show’s official website.