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Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey form an inspired duo to lead the CBC | Shakespeare’s Royal Company


IIt’s all change at the top of British life. We have a new monarch, a new prime minister and, from June 2023, we will have two new artistic directors at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey. It sounds like an inspired nomination, and it’s not without precedent. Trevor Nunn and Terry Hands were the CBC’s Co-Artistic Directors from 1978 to 1986. Going back further in time, Anthony Quayle and Glen Byam Shaw ran the Shakespeare Memorial Theater as it then stood from 1952 to 1956 Given the size of the current company, it makes sense to have two people at the top.

An immense task awaits them. Hit hard by Covid, the metropolitan bias of British culture and the marginalization of Shakespeare, the RSC has lately lost something of its former prestige: a radical and necessary enterprise in the 1960s has begun to emerge, despite the efforts of Gregory Doran, an institution to be redefined. So what are the immediate tasks that Evans and Harvey face?

First and foremost, it’s about reinvigorating the Shakespearean repertoire. This means attracting the best actors, directors and designers to Stratford: easy to say, but it would be wonderful to see, say, Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Hiddleston, Saoirse Ronan or Florence Pugh gracing the Stratford stage, not to mention young directors like Rebecca Frecknall or Josh Seymour taking up Shakespeare’s challenge. I would also urge new directors to avoid the deadly repetition – which Doran, to his credit, has achieved – of the same box office bankers (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) season after season. . Above all, I hope to see a return to the quick, witty and intelligent speech of verse that was a cardinal tenet of Peter Hall when he founded the RSC in 1960.

But there’s more to the RSC than Shakespeare, and two things must happen immediately. One is the reopening of Le Cygne to introduce us to the riches of the classical repertoire. The other is the realization that the RSC’s fame was born of the interplay between Shakespearean drama and contemporary drama: one of the highlights of the 1960s was seeing a group of actors steeped in Shakespeare apply their skills to Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming.

My final point would be that, while education and community projects are important, they are subordinate to the main task, which is to give the work on the main stages richness and texture. Evans at both Sheffield Crucible and Chichester and Harvey at Theatr Clwyd have shown they have a sense of adventure: they must now bring the same sense of calculated risk to the Avon.

theguardian Gt

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