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Blackpool Grand And RSC Stage ‘A Play For The Nation’

The RSC will return to The Grand after their incredible performance of The Taming of The Shrew back in February. In 2016, the special production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will combine two years of touring as it is created for and will mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016. Of all Shakespeare’s plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is especially loved by many for its delightful comedy, its magical setting and its cavalcade of glorious characters.

A professional RSC company will tour A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation for twelve weeks throughout the spring and summer of 2016, including playing in Blackpool’s Matcham-built Grand Theatre.

In every location, a new group of amateur performers will play Bottom and the rude mechanicals and local schoolchildren will play Titania’s fairy train.

The recruitment process for the amateur performers will begin in Spring 2015, as each partner theatre selects amateur groups.  The RSC and partners will share skills with the amateurs through a series of workshops throughout the spring and summer, during which 90 amateur actors will be selected.

By Summer 2015, schools across the country, some of whom – including Montgomery High School, Blackpool – are already involved in The RSC’s Learning and Performance Network, will be invited to take part in workshops for teachers and whole-school activities for students. Children from local primary and secondary schools in each region will be cast as Titania’s fairy train from September 2015.  Around 480 children across the UK will perform in the production.

In Autumn 2015 the amateur performers will prepare for their roles through a training programme with Erica and regional partners and theatre-makers, exploring Shakespeare and other writers.

Rehearsals with the professional company will begin in January 2016, streamed each week from London, Stratford and two regional locations.  People will be able to follow the whole story online and through a unique broadcast collaboration with the BBC, who will track the amateurs every step of the way from spring 2015 to their moment on stage in the summer of 2016.

In February 2016 A Midsummer Night’s Dream will open in Stratford-upon-Avon, then tour across the country, beginning in Newcastle upon Tyne and then playing a week-long run at eleven venues, including Blackpool’s Grand Theatre.

By Summer 2016 the company returns to Stratford, where the tour will culminate in a special Midsummer month of performances in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in June 2016, featuring all the amateur actors from around the UK.

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.

Erica Whyman, Deputy Artistic Director, said:

“We should all feel as though Shakespeare belongs to us and yet we know that not everyone does.  We want to celebrate Shakespeare’s legacy as we lead up to 2016 and find new ways of bringing the pleasure of his plays to the widest audience.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is probably the play most of us begin with, so it made sense to choose this as a title for this unique celebratory production.  I am excited that we are going to be working with such an amazing range of people all over the country to make it truly ‘a play for the nation’ – and that we will be doing it in collaboration with our thirteen theatre partners and the BBC.

“There’s some fantastic and unexpected talent out there in the amateur theatre world, and we’ve had the privilege to see so much of it over the last three years of Open Stages. It is a real treat to be able to bring the professional and amateur worlds together in this extraordinary tour.

“We will also build on the great education work happening up and down the country in our 400 strong Learning and Performance Network, by inviting whole schools to explore A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and for some of their young students to be part of Titania’s fairy train.

“It is a glorious challenge to stage this wonderful play with different casts up and down the country, but one which I am honoured to undertake!”

Keep posted to the Grand Theatre website, blog, Facebook and Twitter for more developments on our journey to stage A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play For The Nation with The RSC.

But if you can’t wait for a bit of Shakespeare, you can catch English Touring Theatre bringing The Bard’s Twelfth Night to Blackpool Grand from Tuesday 21 to Saturday 25 October 2014.

Tickets available at http://www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk/shows/performance/twelfth-night

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