RSC 2023 season starts with The Tempest starring Alex Kingston
WELL-known actor Alex Kingston is to return to Stratford to play Prospero in January, the RSC has announced as it revealed the artistic programme for 2023.
On the bill are re-imaginings of six Shakespeare titles led by a fresh slate of directors, four of whom will present work in the RST for the first time.
The season runs from January to October, and as 2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio, it includes five titles that would have been lost forever if it had not been published in 1623. They are: The Tempest, Julius Caesar, Cymbeline, As You Like It and Macbeth. There is also a new production of Hamlet, chosen by Next Generation Act, the RSC’s young company made up of those with backgrounds under-represented in the arts.
Promoted under the title ‘Power Shifts’, the upcoming programme is the last under acting artistic director Erica Whyman, who leaves next June, making way for incoming co-artistic directors Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey.
Explaining the thinking behind the season, Erica said: “As the RSC embarks on a new chapter, with a fresh and fearless determination to look at ourselves and our world through the lens of Shakespeare’s plays, all of our creative activity in 2023 will address questions of power. Who has it, who doesn’t, how does it change a human being, when does it corrupt, and how might it disrupt and liberate?
“I have chosen five plays that would have been lost forever if we didn’t have the First Folio, published in an act of remarkable conviction in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. The Folio invested enormous lasting power in one playwright, who was himself fascinated by how power is apportioned according to race, gender, class and birth right and how rarely the smartest and the bravest people are afforded power.”
Unusually, the productions will not run in repertory, meaning they are not cross-cast. Erica explained: “We have chosen to present these six plays as standalone events. We love the benefits of playing in rep and will be returning to it, but we are experimenting with new models. This pattern allows each play a very distinct identity, and a unique company of actors, allowing us to be more surprising as we reveal the intentions behind each production. The five directors offer different approaches, influences and instincts and share a commitment to release courageous new meaning in the plays.”
Running in the RST from 26th January to 4th March, the season opens with Elizabeth Freestone’s The Tempest; an elemental tale of resource wars, revenge and renewal. Alex Kingston will return to the Company to play Prospero alongside Offie award-winning actress Jessica Rhodes, who makes her debut with the Royal Shakespeare Company playing Miranda.
Alex first joined the RSC in the early 1990s, and has forged a hugely successful stage career. She is best known to television viewers for her roles as Moll in The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders (1996), British surgeon Dr Elizabeth Corday in the long-running NBC medical drama ER, and for her role as Dr River Song in the BBC’s Doctor Who.
Gregory Doran, RSC artistic director emeritus, will direct his 50th production for the RSC with a new staging of William Shakespeare’s dark fairytale Cymbeline.
The production will mark a personal milestone for Gregory, who, in 2023, will complete his journey to direct every Shakespeare play featured in the First Folio. The production will open on 22nd April, ahead of the weekend of Shakespeare’s Birthday and runs until 27th May in the RST.
This will be followed by Olivier award-nominated, Lecoq-trained director, writer and dramaturg Omar Elerian’s playful and provocative take on Shakespeare’s joyous summertime comedy, As You Like It, which runs in summer 2023, dates to be confirmed.
Making his RSC debut is The Stage Debut award-winner (2019) and UK Theatre award-nominated director Atri Banerjee with a visceral new production of Julius Caesar. The production premieres in the RST from 18th March to 8th April before going on a national tour.
At The Other Place, in July 2023, Paul Ainsworth will direct the RSCs young company of 13 to 18-year-olds recruited from across the country, to present their interpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
In this abridged version, they will explore the unstable state of Denmark through the eyes of the younger generation in the play and how the actions of those in power effect the inheritors of the nation.
Award-winning director and site-specific theatre-maker Wils Wilson completes the line-up with a new interpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The production will open in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in autumn 2023, dates to be confirmed.
The company also announced a new research project, Time To Act, that will measure the impact of the company’s work on children’s language development and literacy skills.
It also included a reminder about the playwriting project, 37 Plays – calling for submissions from the public to mark the publication of the First Folio, which can be anything from a short script to a full-length play. Find out more at