Monday, 10 August 2020

Rehearsals begin for Hamlet production

A NEW production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, with Ian McKellen in an age-blind interpretation of the young Prince, went into rehearsals on Monday.

Produced by Bill Kenwright and directed by Sean Mathias, it will herald the latter’s inaugural season at the Theatre Royal, Windsor.

The cast also includes Ben Allen, Emmanuella Cole, Alis Wyn Davies, Oli Higginson, Nick Howard-Brown, Jonathan Hyde, Asif Khan, Missy Malek and Jenny Seagrove.

It will be followed by Martin Sherman’s adaptation of Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, with Sir Ian as Firs, the elderly manservant.

This is the first major UK production to begin rehearsals since theatres went dark in March in accordance with government guidelines to stem the spread of covid-19.

Rehearsals are now able to start with strict measures in place to ensure the safety of the company.

The schedule will be carefully choreographed around social distancing, screening, hygiene, and PPE.

Mathias said: “I have always been a fan of ensemble work so when Bill Kenwright asked me to be his artistic director I saw a perfect opportunity to create a company and direct two of the greatest plays ever written.

“The disappointment at being halted by covid-19 has now been replaced with encouraging signs that we can at least start to work on these beautiful plays with an exceptional company.

“We walk a tightrope through the forest while we await news of when we may actually perform in front of a live audience but it will be invigorating to leave the house and get into a rehearsal room and be a part of British theatre returning to the boards.”

Sir Ian said: “I feel lucky to be working again, thanks to Bill Kenwright’s inspiring optimism and Sean Mathias’s invitation to
re-examine Hamlet, 50 years on from my first go.

“So now we will meet again. Don’t know when but do know where — the Theatre Royal, Windsor.”

Kenwright said: “Nothing is more important than this country’s health and safety, so we are not ready to announce an opening night yet but I’m a great believer in making a start if it is
possible.

“I’m hopeful we will be enjoying a Windsor season in the forthcoming months.”

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