Press features for Richard II get into gear this evening, Tuesday, with the appearance of David Tennant and director Greg Doran on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row at 7.15pm. I will post an iPlayer link once that goes live. Other elements in this (once again, delayed) update from the preparations include RSC rehearsal photographs (one of which is featured above), news about this final week before the production enters the theatre and the newly released Young Shakespeare Nation video with the voice of David Tennant.
First, though, here is the latest production diary video, featuring the terrific James Shapiro, Larry Miller Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Professor Shapiro is the author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare and Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare, both of which are highly recommended. He also wrote and presented last year’s BBC Four series The King and the Playwright. Among much else, he a governor of the RSC and recently he attended rehearsals and spoke with the Richard II cast. Here he reflects on the play’s reception at the end of Elizabeth I’s reign.
This week is the sixth and final week in the main rehearsal rooms before the production moves into the theatre next week. In Stratford the main stage is dark this week for the get-out of the summer season of productions and, from tomorrow, the get-in for the complex Richard II set. The first preview is just nine days away – and our Live from Stratford-upon-Avon broadcast is six weeks tomorrow. In relation to the latter, a number of venues in the United States have now started selling tickets for ‘as-live’ screenings in the following weeks; go here for details. Here in the UK, we have more than three hundred cinemas signed up for the showing.
Last Friday the company stitched the whole play together for the first time, and this coming Friday I and colleagues get to see a first run-through. To give you a sense of all that the RSC has released a selection of Kwame Lestrade’s rehearsal photographs from the rehearsal room. Meanwhile, all of the other aspects of the production tick along, including set building, costume fittings and much more. Yesterday, composer Paul Englishby and the production’s band and singers recorded the music for a CD and digital download release.
Other activities linked to the production include a lovely Financial Times article by Suzi Feay with Greg Doran walking and talking around Stratford-upon-Avon:
He discusses the Catholic upbringing he rejected as a young man, not least because of the view on homosexuality. ‘Sartre said the loss of religion leaves a god-shaped hole in your consciousness; well, I’m happy to have filled that with Shakespeare and the theatre.’
As a further treat, here is the new video for the RSC’s major education initiative Young Shakespeare Nation which launches alongside Richard II.