Interview with The RSC Triple Bill Directors

Director Justin Audibert on his production of The Taming of the Shrew:

In your production key characters are reimagined and played as the opposite binary gender, with no ambivalence and not ‘gender blind’. Is that right?

Yes, so for example, the role of Petruchio, which we have renamed Petruchia, is being played as a woman in a woman’s costume but with the same character motivations and social status as Petruchio in any other production.   Likewise, Katherine is being played by a male actor playing it as a man but will have the same social restrictions that a woman in 1590s England would have had. The actors are playing their own gender, but we have flipped which gender holds power.

The Taming of the Shew

RSC Taming of The Shrew

Can you tell us more about the setting for the production?

I’m setting it in a reimagined 1590 in which England is a matriarchy.  In the rehearsal room we’ve been exploring the different ways that women in a matriarchy would assert power.  In Elizabethan England and Renaissance Europe more widely, eye contact was a huge thing.  Women weren’t supposed to look you directly in the eye – but in the world we’re creating in the play the female actors are looking people directly in the eyes in a very bold way, and the male actors are not.

Can you tell us more about the set, music and costumes?

The setting has a strong feel of the Mediterranean about it, with a colour palette that is warm, vibrant and with a sense of fun and mischief.

The costumes will certainly give a sense of the 1590 period. The costumes worn by the female actors will be beautiful, imposing, expensive and involve lots of material.  They will dominate the space.  The costumes the male actors wear will be much more delicate even subtle.

The Taming of the Shew

RSC The Taming of The Shrew

Director Kimberley Sykes talks about her production of As You Like It:

What has influenced your thinking around the production?

I think a big thing which has influenced my thinking on the production has been about what a forest is and what it represents. I did a lot of reading into the way forests function and the societal behaviour of trees. I was quite determined not to have any trees on stage, mainly because everybody kept asking me how are you going to do the trees?!

As You Like It

The RSC As You Like It

What are your current thoughts on the style of the production? Can you give us any early insights into the process?

I’m not setting the play in a particular time or place.  It doesn’t feel like a play which needs a certain period setting. And I’m very aware as a director of not choosing a setting which restricts the play, and that only tells one aspect of the play so I always look for the approach and the framework that allows all of the play to live.

What do you hope audiences will take away from this production?

I would like for the audience to take away a new relationship with their own ‘magician’.  To feel able to explore the possibility and potential of change, especially right now, with all of the uncertainty in this country and Europe and the rest of the world.  To feel that change is possible, and that change can come from working together, learning from each other and from being more honest.  Being brave enough to jump off the cliff into the unknown.

As You Like It

The RSC As You Like It

Don’t miss The RSC present their triple bill and book below…

Measure for Measure – Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 March 2020

As You Like It – Saturday 28 March to Wednesday 1 April 2020

The Taming of the Shrew – Friday 3 and Saturday 4 April 2020


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