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Best-selling novel by Maggie O’Farrell about the life of Shakespeare's son, Hamnet, makes world premiere at the RSC's Swan Theatre

An adaptation of Hamnet, the best-selling novel by Maggie O’Farrell imagining the life of and death of Shakespeare’s son, will be the first production on at The Swan Theatre when it reopens in April after being closed for three years.

The RSC revealed news of the production today (Tuesday).

Hamnet marketing image (60492274)
Hamnet marketing image (60492274)

Hamnet is adapted by award-winning playwright Lolita Chakrabarti and current RSC acting artistic director Erica Whyman will direct. The production will open in the newly refurbished Swan Theatre from Saturday, 1st April 2023.

The RSC has collaborated with Sam Mendes’ production company Neal Street Productions, and is presented in association with Hera Pictures, who own the film rights to the novel.

\Maggie O'Farrell (60492276)
\Maggie O'Farrell (60492276)

Maggie O’Farrell said; “I couldn’t be happier that the RSC will be premiering their stage adaption of Hamnet at the Swan Theatre. The motivation, for me, in writing the novel was to give a voice and a presence to the only son of William Shakespeare, who died when he was 11 and has ever since been relegated to a literary footnote in his father’s biography. I wanted to write a book that put this forgotten child centre-stage, to say to the world that he was important, he was grieved, his life was significant, and that without his early death, we wouldn’t have Hamlet and we wouldn’t have Twelfth Night. It has been a joy from start to finish to work with the RSC, Erica Whyman and Lolita Chakrabarti on bringing this adaptation into being. That Hamnet the boy will now be appearing in a play with his name, in the very town where he lived and died, is an incredibly moving thought. I’m so grateful to everyone involved in this exciting venture.”

The Swan has been closed since the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020. A major refurbishment of the theatre began in January 2022.

Significant modifications to the theatre include new infrastructure for lighting, sound and video, repairs to the woodwork and brickwork, the introduction of new, wider seats with armrests in all positions replacing the previous bench seating, improved access including an increase in the number of designated wheelchair spaces and an enhanced hearing loop.

For more on this story see Thursday’s Herald.

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