Tag Archives: RSC

On Midsummer Mischief, Part Three – Places Other

*Published on Exeunt*

I miss The Other Place.

Now, that’s a strange thing to say considering I have never actually set foot in any building called The Other Place, in Stratford or otherwise. But, like everyone who has any sort of connection with the RSC, its presence has always been keenly felt during my years visiting the company.

First, a bit of history. Continue reading On Midsummer Mischief, Part Three – Places Other


On Midsummer Mischief, Part Two – Feminism(s)

*Published on Exeunt*

“I’ve fucking cracked it…”

At the beginning of one scene in Alice Birch’s Revolt. She said. Revolt again, an actor begins to try to articulate her newfound theory on the world and its problems. She starts to speak, but is immediately interrupted by someone else. Throughout the next ten minutes, as a dizzy spectacle of sketches happens around her, she struggles to put her ideas into words. Then, just as everything seems to be dropping off a cliff of insanity, she speaks one of the most startling, poetic and honest feminist critiques I’ve heard.

This theme of language and its pitfalls runs throughout Birch’s piece (and, to varying degrees, throughout the other three plays in the Midsummer Mischief season), as the play attempts to come to terms with the way our structures of speech and writing reinforce and perpetuate sexism. Continue reading On Midsummer Mischief, Part Two – Feminism(s)

On Midsummer Mischief, Part One – Collaboration

There’s a bit of a revolution going on at the RSC.

Those are words I never thought I’d write.

I use that qualifier “bit of” for a reason, because this is not a whole-scale, violent insurgency. Erica Whyman’s Midsummer Mischief season is a lot more subtle than that. But for the first time in my RSC-going experience, it feels like there’s a counter to the mainstage fare in Stratford, working in tandem with and in opposition to the prevailing ideology. Continue reading On Midsummer Mischief, Part One – Collaboration

Interview: Katy Stephens

*Originally written for Exeunt*

It may be hard to believe, but Katy Stephens wasn’t particularly into Shakespeare before joining the RSC in 2006. “I thought Shakespeare was for posh people,” she tells me, “It was for academics and intellectuals. I didn’t realise it was truly for me until I joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and started to investigate Shakespeare myself and found these things that really touched me.” Since taking on the roles of Margaret of Anjou and Joan of Arc in the now-historic Histories Cycle, Stephens has been in a “love affair” with the Bard (“Oh, why don’t you just marry Shakespeare?!”, her son says).

She was a member of the two long-ensembles under Michael Boyd (“a hero as far as I’m concerned”), Continue reading Interview: Katy Stephens

Interview: Alex Waldmann

*Originally written for Exeunt*

Three months ago, when I last chatted to Alex Waldmann, the actor was looking forward to starting a run of All’s Well That Ends Well alongside Hamlet and As You Like It in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford, safe in the knowledge that he would be in employment for the near future. Once the company finishes its run in Newcastle in November, however, Waldmann will be joining the hordes of unemployed theatre professionals once again. That’s not to say he won’t be busy, however; a few years ago, he and his wife Amelia Sears set-up SEArED to produce “new writing and neglected classics” (though they “didn’t really know what that meant at the time”), which has in the past taken shows to Edinburgh and produced Dennis Potter’s Brimstone and Treacle with Homeland star Rupert Friend. This month they open with a revival of David Storey’s Home at the Arcola Theatre.

They chose the play, Waldmann tells me, because “we were fascinated to see if in our desensitised, violence-exposed, media world it would still be shocking. Continue reading Interview: Alex Waldmann

“Candide” by Mark Ravenhill

inspired by Voltaire

at the Swan Theatre, Thursday 5th September 2013

*Originally written for Exeunt*

There are two definitions of “optimism” in the Oxford English Dictionary. The first is the one we immediately think of, meaning “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something”. But it is the second definition that Mark Ravenhill’s Candide – inspired by Voltaire’s 1759 satire of the same name – attempts to question, offering an interrogation of “the doctrine, especially as set forth by Leibniz, that this world is the best of all possible worlds”. And though these two meanings sound similar, there’s a subtle difference in tense. Ravenhill’s target is that sickly-sweet, self-perpetuating belief that we are living in “the best of all possible worlds”. It’s at once savage, despairing and difficult, but in Lyndsey Turner’s production it is certainly never dull.

True to the original, Ravenhill’s play opts for a picaresque structure, though he kicks off with a seemingly traditional opening as we watch Candide presented with a theatrical rendition of his life story. Continue reading “Candide” by Mark Ravenhill

Interview: Alex Waldmann

Originally written for Exeunt.

Orlando. Horatio. Bertram.

Not a bad list of names for someone who’s only in his second season at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Last year, Alex Waldmann starred in Maria Aberg’s startling production of King John as the eponymous monarch whilst also taking roles on Richard IIIand A Soldier in Every Son in the Swan Theatre, but now he’s pulling in crowds for the bigger RST. When I spoke to him, the curtain had just come down on Hamlet, in which Jonathan Slinger plays the Dane, and it was a matter of hours before As You Like It kicked off later that evening. In their time off stage, he and the company head down the road for rehearsals of All’s Well That Ends Well.

“It’s like a sport,” Waldmann tells me energetically, “You’re tired but you’re also really match fit.
Continue reading Interview: Alex Waldmann