Twenty-four ‘extras’ from across the Midlands are taking part in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s current production of King Lear, which features Antony Sher in the title role, and is directed by RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran. The extras appear on stage in a number of scenes as Lear’s knights, soldiers and vagrants, in a production that runs until 12 October in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Back in June the RSC put out a call asking for people to get involved in the production. A number of ‘taster’ workshops took place, involving movement, acting, singing and fight sessions, to give those interested a glimpse of what the experience would entail. From the 140 people who applied, twenty-four will now get to tread the stage of the world-famous theatre, appearing in alternate performances in two groups of twelve.
Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, and director of King Lear, said:
“Lear often refers to his ‘one hundred knights’ but rarely do we get to see full their riotous presence on stage. We wanted the audience to experience what his daughter Goneril has to go through when entertaining his ‘insolent retinue’ and maybe understand why she would want to cast him and his people out into the storm. It felt like a wonderful opportunity to engage with the local community, as we did back in 2012 with Julius Caesar with great success, to bring to life these ‘debauched and bold’ knights. It is going to be very exciting to watch our supporting cast of twenty-four Midlanders bring a new energy and life to one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays.”
Those taking part include a local government officer from Birmingham; a warehouse logistics officer in Atherstone; a Customer Services advisor for Royal Mail from Kenilworth; a school groundsman from Solihull; and a rowing coach from Stratford-upon-Avon.
In order to understand more about the way in which the RSC mounts a production, the extras have been spending time with members of the King Lear creative team, including Anna Girvan (Assistant Director), Bret Yount (Fight Director) and Michael Ashcroft (Movement Director).
For more information and to book tickets visit rsc.org.uk.
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