Royal Shakespeare Company announces professional casting for A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The Royal Shakespeare Company today announces the professional actors cast in the national tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, leading the RSC’s celebrations for the Shakespeare anniversary year in 2016. This national celebration of Shakespeare will visit each region and nation of the UK. In each area the 18-strong professional company will be joined by local amateur theatre companies who will play the Mechanicals and schoolchildren who will form part of Titania’s fairy train. Playing opposite the 14 amateur Bottoms cast from across the country, Ayesha Dharker will take on the role of Titania, Queen of the Fairies.
This summer Ayesha played the role of Emilia in the RSC’s critically acclaimed production of Othello, having previously played Scheherazade in Arabian Nights. Most recently she appeared in Tanika Gupta’s Anita and Me at The Birmingham Rep and Theatre Royal Stratford East. Her other theatre credits include the Broadway and West End production of Bombay Dreams. Her film credits includeStar Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, The Mistress of Spices, with numerous TV credits including Arabian Nights, Doctor Who, The Indian Doctor and Waterloo Road.
On taking on this role Ayesha said: “I am delighted to be playing Titania for The Dream! I have fallen in love with the RSC because every project I have done with them involves strong women and magical stories with ancient roots – from Scheherazade to Titania. I am looking forward to working with talented actors from all over the country and cannot wait to work with Erica Whyman.”
Ayesha Dharker is joined by Jamie Cameron (Fairy); Lila Clements (Fairy); Lucy Ellinson (Puck);Aimee Gray (Fairy); Peter Hamilton Dyer (Egeus); Laura Harding (Hippolyta); Jack Holden(Lysander); Chris Nayak (Demetrius); Mercy Ojelade (Hermia); Chu Omambala (Oberon); Sam Redford (Theseus); Laura Riseborough (Helena); Isaac Ssebandeke (First Fairy); Alex Tomkins(Fairy) and Jon Trenchard (Philostrate). With further casting to be announced.
Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, and director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation, said: “I am thrilled by the professional acting company and the creative team we have brought together. They are hugely talented and offer me a wonderfully wide range of expertise so I’m looking forward very much to getting into rehearsals and responding to this magical play. They also all have big hearts and will rise to the unique challenge of this project with skill and generosity.”
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is designed by Tom Piper who is most well-known for his collaboration with Paul Cummins and The Tower of London on the extraordinary commemorative poppy installation ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’. The lighting is designed by Charles Balfour; the composer isSamuel Kenyon (who both worked with Erica Whyman on the 2014 production of The Christmas Truce). Movement is by Siân Williams and the Associate Directors are Kimberley Sykes andSophie Ivatts.
The 84 amateur performers playing the Mechanicals have been taking part in workshops and tasks set by the RSC team in preparation for the start of rehearsals throughout the autumn.
Peter Cockerill, a pub landlord from County Durham and one of our Newcastle Bottoms, said: “From the very first day of auditions I have been really excited about being involved with Dream. Every time we have a session planned with The RSC I feel like a little boy waiting for Christmas and can’t sleep with anticipation! I have found the process so far tremendously rewarding, I have learnt so much and we’ve got months to go yet!”
Sue Downing, a Funeral Director from Kidderminster playing Quince, said: “Being in Dream feels like falling in love and winning Strictly at the same time. The nature of life is you’re doing everyday things and then you suddenly remember you’re in it and it hits you, it’s magical.”
Peta Barker, a West Indies born driver playing Snug in London, said: “It has been such an amazing experience. The voice and movement workshops we have attended have been so helpful and the sessions with the RSC directors are really encouraging – they are so positive with their feedback, which is building up a real feeling of confidence in our abilities.”
You can follow all of their journeys along with the rest of the company via www.dream2016.org.uk
A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens in Stratford-upon-Avon at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in February 2016, before embarking on a nationwide tour and returning to Stratford-upon-Avon with the entire company in June 2016.
The BBC will be capturing all of the action in ‘The Best Bottoms In the Land’ (Title TBC), which will follow the Royal Shakespeare Company’s journey as they put on the production with both amateur and professional actors, during their UK wide tour.
Overseen by BBC Birmingham, nine regional programmes will be produced by the BBC English Regions teams. The 30 minute documentaries will show the pressures and pitfalls of such a project, culminating in the opening night of each region’s local performance.
‘The Best Bottoms in the Land’ will follow individual stories from around the country and will air in spring 2016 on BBC One.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation is a co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company and amateur theatre companies across the UK. This is an arrangement developed between the RSC and Equity.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation is supported by Arts Council England Cross-Border Touring Fund
AMATEUR GROUPS PERFORMING IN EACH REGION AND BOOKING DETAILS
WEST MIDLANDS: The Nonentities / The Bear Pit
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon Wed 17 Feb – Sat 5 Mar 2016
Tickets: www.rsc.org.uk / 01789 403493
NORTH EAST: The Castle Players / The People’s Theatre
Northern Stage, Newcastle Wed 16 – Sat 26 Mar 2016
Tickets www.northernstage.co.uk / 0191 230 5151
SCOTLAND: The Citizens Dream Players
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow Tue 29 Mar – Sat 2 Apr 2016
Tickets citz.co.uk / 0141 429 0022
NORTH WEST: Poulton Drama
Grand Theatre, Blackpool Tue 5 – Sat 9 Apr 2016
Tickets www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk / 01253 290190
YORKSHIRE: Leeds Arts Centre
Alhambra Theatre, Bradford Tue 12 – Sat 16 Apr 2016
Tickets www.bradford-theatres.co.uk / 01274 432000
SOUTH EAST: The Canterbury Players
Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury Tue 19 – Sat 23 Apr 2016
Tickets www.marlowetheatre.com / 01227 787787
EAST OF ENGLAND: The Common Lot
Theatre Royal, Norwich Tue 26 – Sat 30 Apr 2016
Tickets www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk / 01603 630000
EAST MIDLANDS: Lovelace Theatre Group
Theatre Royal Nottingham, Tue 3 – Sat 7 May 2016
Tickets www.trch.co.uk / 0115 989 5555
SOUTH WEST: Carnon Downs Drama Group
Hall for Cornwall, Truro Tue 10 – Sat 14 May 2016
Tickets www.hallforcornwall.co.uk / 01872 262466
LONDON: Tower Theatre
Barbican, London Tue 17 – Sat 21 May 2016
Tickets www.barbican.org.uk / 020 7638 8891
WALES: Everyman Theatre
New Theatre, Cardiff Tue 24 – Sat 28 May 2016
Tickets www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk / 029 2087 8889
NORTHERN IRELAND: Belvoir Players
Grand Opera House, Belfast Tue 31 May – Sat 4 June 2016
Tickets www.goh.co.uk / 028 9024 1919