Dec. 7, 2005
Royal Shakespeare Co. returns for three-week residency with classics
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University Musical Society announces that the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will return to the University of Michigan campus for a three-week residency in October and November 2006, featuring performances of "Antony and Cleopatra", "Julius Caesar" and "The Tempest," with film and television star Patrick Stewart in leading roles.
UMS and the U-M campus will be the sole venue for the three plays, which are part of the RSC's recently announced Complete Works Festival, which begins in April 2006.
British actor Patrick Stewart, an honorary associate artist with the RSC and Captain Jean-Luc Picard of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" fame, performs the leading roles of Antony in "Antony and Cleopatra" (with Harriet Walter as Cleopatra) and Prospero in " The Tempest." As in past residencies, the plays will utilize ensemble casting, with approximately 28 actors performing in all three titles.
Tickets for Royal Shakespeare Company 2006: A Festival of Shakespeare's Classics will go on sale in February 2006. The RSC will give seven performances of each title in the Power Center for the Performing Arts (121 Fletcher Street). Additional daytime performances will be scheduled for children. The plays will be performed Oct.24 –Nov. 12; schedules for performances and related activities will be issued at a later date.
The 2006 residency is the third since 2001, when U-M became the first American university to partner with the RSC. As in previous residencies, a series of educational activities for adults and children alike will provide context and background for the plays, and U-M faculty and students will work directly with RSC actors, directors, and production personnel. Activities will take place throughout the fall and will include interviews, lectures, workshops, and behind-the-scenes events. A complete schedule of related residency activities will be available this summer.
The Festival of Shakespeare's Classics is presented by the University Musical Society with major support from the University of Michigan. Additional support is provided by the Power Foundation.
"I am absolutely delighted that the Royal Shakespeare Company will be returning to Ann Arbor with three sensational productions of Shakespeare's Great Works," said Kenneth C. Fischer, president of the University Musical Society. "Planning for this residency, the first under new RSC artistic director Michael Boyd who directed the award-winning history plays in the first residency in 2001, took longer than expected, but both the RSC and UMS were determined that the outcome would be worthy of the quality of this unique partnership.
"The wait has been worth it, as together we have been able to construct a residency that includes terrific titles, fabulous actors, and, of course, the RSC's first-rate educational team. The plays performed will provide many opportunities to connect the academic community at the University with the larger regional community. We look forward to welcoming people to Ann Arbor from all over the country for this U.S. exclusive."
U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said: "This coming Royal Shakespeare Company residency will be a marvelous event for our campus and a great opportunity for our neighboring communities. Our students and faculty will realize many dreams in working with one of the world's great theater companies. We are proud to continue our partnership with UMS and the Royal Shakespeare Company. It is an outstanding example of our commitment to contributing to the cultural life of southeast Michigan."
The three plays presented are part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's year-long Complete Works Festival, which features the entire Shakespeare canon—37 plays, plus the sonnets and long poems—at Stratford-on-Avon in England. During "The Complete Works," the RSC will produce 15 plays and bring in other theater companies from around the world in an extensive celebration of Shakespeare's genius.
"Ann Arbor is getting the only work from the Complete Works Festival crossing the Atlantic. That's a measure of the uniqueness and exclusiveness of this relationship. We're not taking these works anywhere else in the United States," said Michael Boyd, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Deborah Shaw, the director of the Complete Works Festival added: "Having opportunities to sit down for three weeks and engage with faculty, students, our technical team, artists, directors, and actors — it really puts heart into the touring. The residency itself is hugely important."
Stewart is an internationally respected actor known for successfully bridging the gap between the theatrical world of the Shakespearean stage and contemporary film and television. He became an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1967 and is now an Honorary Associate Artist. With the RSC, he has performed such roles as King John, Shylock, Henry IV, Cassius, Titus Andronicus, and Oberon, in addition to starring in many contemporary works with the RSC. He commanded the Enterprise in the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" television series and feature films, and has also starred in "X-Men" and its sequels.
His Broadway debut in 1971 was as Snout in Peter Brook's landmark production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." He has also starred on Broadway as Prospero as part of the Shakespeare in the Park Festival and, most recently, in 2000, when he starred in Arthur Miller's "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan," which received a Tony nomination for Best Play. He has also performed frequently in London's West End, where he opened his one-man adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" on Dec. 6.
One of the world's best-known theatre ensembles, the Royal Shakespeare Company focuses on works by Shakespeare, other renaissance dramatists, and contemporary writers. The RSC's ensemble nature allows audiences to follow the company's actors in a number of repertoire productions while providing an expert training environment for its actors, directors and theatre artists. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Boyd, the RSC continually strives to engage more people in the experience of live theatre through its productions, education and outreach work.
The University Musical Society was founded in 1879 and is now in its 127 th season. One of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country, UMS serves diverse audiences through multi-disciplinary performing arts programs in presentation, creation, and education. With a program steeped in music, dance, and theater, UMS hosts approximately 75 performances and 150 free educational activities each season. UMS also commissions new work, sponsors artist residencies, and organizes collaborative projects with local, national, and international partners. While proudly affiliated with the University of Michigan and housed on the U-M campus, UMS is a separate not-for-profit organization that supports itself through ticket sales, grants, contributions, and endowment income.
The University of Michigan, founded in 1817, has been the national model for the large public university for more than a century. Today, almost 40,000 students make up the Ann Arbor campus, with its 19 schools and colleges. U-M offers 6,100 undergraduate and graduate courses each term, and has an annual research budget of more than $750 million. In the fine arts and performing arts, the University's assets include the Schools of Music, Art and Design, and Architecture and Urban Planning; the University of Michigan Museum of Art; and performing venues that include the historic Hill Auditorium, the Power Center, and, now under construction, the Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theatre.
ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
Starring Patrick Stewart as Antony and
Harriet Walter as Cleopatra
Directed by Gregory Doran
A tempestuous love affair struggles to survive as power politics and the demands of Ancient Rome and Egypt tear these two great leaders apart.
Directed by Sean Holmes
The earliest of Shakespeare's "Roman plays," this gripping political thriller explores the complexities of power as Caesar's assassination sees a nation descend into civil violence and instability, with the play portraying opposing dynamics of democracy and tyranny.
Starring Patrick Stewart as Prospero
Directed by Robert Goold
Shakespeare's magical play, his poignant farewell to the stage, has love, tragedy, and comedy in equal measure as the usurped Prospero draws his enemies to his enchanted island to exact his revenge, yet ultimately finds peace and the ability to forgive.
Subscription tickets will go on sale in February. For additional information, call the UMS Ticket Office at (734) 764-2538 or visit www.ums.org.