The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) open its acclaimed production of Hamlet, originally seen in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2016, at The Lowry on Fri 26 January.
Directed by Simon Godwin, the production will see RSC Associate ArtistPaapa Essiedu reprise his award-winning performance in the title role as one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragic heroes.
Joining Paapa in the cast are Romayne Andrews (Rosencrantz), Lorna Brown (Gertrude), James Cooney (Horatio), Patrick Elue (Fortinbras),Kevin N Golding (Player King), Tracy-Anne Green (Player), Maureen Hibbert (Player Queen), Whitney Kehinde (Cornelia), Byron Mondahl(Professor of Wittenberg), Joseph Mydell (Polonius), Mimi Ndiweni(Ophelia), Esther Niles (Osric), John Omole (Voltemand), Clarence Smith (Claudius), Buom Tihngang (Laertes), Ewart James Walters(Ghost) and Eleanor Wyld (Guildenstern).
RSC Executive Director, Catherine Mallyon, said: “We are passionate about taking the productions we make in our home in Stratford-upon-Avon to theatres across the UK. In 2018 we are glad that many people across the country will have the opportunity to see our work at their local theatre. As well as Hamlet, our acclaimed production of Matilda The Musical will also embark on its first UK and Ireland tour, and our First Encounters with Shakespeare production of Julius Caesar will visit schools and theatres between January -March.”
Paapa Essiedu won Best Performance in a Play at the UK Theatre Awards in 2016 for his role as Hamlet. Paapa’s other RSC credits include Edmund in King Lear, Fenton in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and The Mouse and his Child. Additional theatre credits include King Lear (National Theatre) and Romeo and Juliet (Tobacco Factory). He played Demetrius in Russell T Davies’ adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for BBC1 (2016), and appeared in Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express. Paapa will shortly be seen on TV in The Miniaturist and Mike Bartlett’s Press (both BBC 1) and Jack Thorne’s Kiri (Channel 4).
Simon Godwin’s work as a director includes The Two Gentlemen of Verona (RSC), Richard II (Shakespeare’s Globe), Twelfth Night, Man and Superman, The Beaux’ Stratagem and Strange Interlude (National Theatre). He is Associate Director at the National Theatre, and was Associate Director at Northampton Royal & Derngate between 2001-04.
Simon Godwin said: “I’m delighted that Hamlet will be touring in 2018. Paapa Essiedu is British with Ghanaian heritage. When Paapa and I talked about the production, I realised how radical it might be to see Denmark through the lens of a completely different culture, a culture that Paapa himself had experienced. I began to imagine a Denmark re-conceived as a modern state influenced by the ritual, traditions and beauty of west Africa. So, our setting is full of the colour, emotional intensity and passion associated with that part of the world.
“As Hamlet, Paapa is intelligent, youthful and charismatic, with a contemporary wit. But Paapa’s portrayal is also mercurial with an element of danger.
“Part ghost story, part family tragedy, part dark comedy, Hamlet is an urgent and gripping thriller. I can’t wait to see how audiences respond to it around the country.”
Hamlet is directed by Simon Godwin and designed by Paul Wills with lighting by Paul Anderson. Music for the production is composed by Jamiroquai percussionist Sola Akingbola. Sound is by Christopher Shutt. Movement by Mbulelo Ndabeni. Fights by Kev McCurdy.