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A Christmas Carol and My Neighbour Totoro announced as the RSC festive shows for 2022

Scrooge is back for Christmas revealed the RSC yesterday (Wednesday) as it announced its festive shows – at midnight appropriately enough.

David Edgar’s critically acclaimed adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol returns to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from 26th October until 1st January 2023 and will be directed by Rachel Kavanaugh.

There is also a world premiere on offer too, with an adaptation of Studio Ghibli’s cult Japanese animated film My Neighbour Totoro heading to the Barbican, London, from 8th October until 21st January 2023. Opera director Phelim McDermott will take the reins of the production that has been adapted by Tom Morton-Smith (Oppenheimer).

RSC Christmas shows (56314374)
RSC Christmas shows (56314374)

Acting artistic director Erica Whyman said: “I am thrilled to be announcing these two magical shows for families. They continue distinguished RSC traditions of centring the imagination and resilience of children and celebrating the possibility of change. After many years of development I am proud our collaboration with Joe Hisaishi and Studio Ghibli is taking flight at the Barbican in what is set to be a ground-breaking and spectacular theatrical event and delighted that Phelim McDermott will at long last make his RSC debut. Meanwhile in Stratford David Edgar’s Christmas Carol in Rachel Kavanaugh’s entrancing staging seems more timely than ever - a witty, joyful clarion call for a kinder world.”

My Neighbour Totoro was created by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) and is described as an enchanting coming-of-age story explores the magical fantasy world of childhood and the transformative power of imagination, as it follows one extraordinary summer in the lives of sisters Satsuki and Mei.

In order to be closer to their mother while she recovers from an illness in a rural convalescent hospital, their father moves the family to the countryside. As the girls explore their beautiful new surroundings, Mei encounters magical creatures and the ancient protector of the forest she calls Totoro.

RSC Christmas shows (56314376)
RSC Christmas shows (56314376)

Joe Hisaishi, executive producer and original composer of My Neighbour Totoro, said: “In Japan, many people are passionate about theatre and musicals, but there are no original Japanese shows or musicals performed in the world. ‘Totoro’ is a Japanese work famous throughout the world, and so this stage adaptation could have the potential to reach global audiences.

I am delighted that the RSC have become our partner because I feel much in common between the quality of the RSC and Mr. Miyazaki’s aesthetic. This is a ground-breaking project. Phelim McDermott is a wonderful director, and his team are enthusiastic, creative and very hardworking. They love Totoro and the sense of anticipation is high.”

Meanwhile of Charles Dickens’ much-loved classic story A Christmas Carol is getting its third recent run at the RST. It ran in 2017 with Phil Davis in the title role and in 2018 starred Aden Gillett.

Playwright David Edgar said: “As a young playwright in the 1980s it was a privilege to be asked by Trevor Nunn to adapt Charles Dickens’ relatively unknown but brilliant early novel Nicholas Nickleby for the RSC. Nearly 40 years later, I was delighted to be invited back, to adapt what is probably Dickens’ best-loved and best-known story.

Aden Gillett as Scrooge, 2018
Aden Gillett as Scrooge, 2018

“In 1843, Dickens read a parliamentary report on the conditions of children in the mines and factories of what was aptly called the Hungry Forties, and resolved to write an angry political pamphlet, to be published that Christmas, calling for reform. By the end of the year he’d produced not a tract but a universal story of how benevolence is stronger than greed. I wanted to put Dickens and his ambitions in the foreground of the adaptation. In Rachel Kavanaugh’s wonderful production – combining a glorious set with dazzling choreography and musical score - we see Dickens construct his story before our very eyes.

“When we premiered the show in 2017, millions were already relying on food banks and beggars haunted city streets. Covid and the cost of living crisis have made economic inequality – and raw poverty – an even more pressing reality. And yet – in the way the nation came together around the NHS to combat the pandemic – we have been reminded of the selflessness and generosity of spirit which lies at the heart of Dickens’s enduringly optimistic story.”

Public booking for the shows opens on 19th May.

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