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RSC to adapt Hilary Mantel novels

Ella Hickson's 'Wendy and Peter Pan' to world preem

LONDON

Adaptations of “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies,” Hilary Mantel’s historical novels of Tudor plotting, will get world preem stagings by the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of its winter 2013-14 season, announced Wednesday.

Commissioned by Playful Prods., Mike Poulton (“Luise Miller,” “Fortune’s Fool”) has adapted the novels, which netted two Man Booker prizes and the Costa Novel Award in the U.K. and the National Book Critics Circle Award in the U.S.

The two linked plays dramatize the machinations of Henry VIII’s henchman Thomas Cromwell during the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn. Helmed by Jeremy Herrin in his RSC debut, the plays will run in rep at the RSC’s mid-scale house the Swan at the company’s Stratford-upon-Avon home Dec. 11 to March 29, 2014.

“Wendy and Peter Pan,” a world preem adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” will also be presented. Ella Hickson’s play reimagines Barrie’s classic tale from the perspective of the original story’s only girl. Directed by rising U.K. helmer Jonathan Munby (currently directing “Julius Caesar” at Chicago Shakespeare Theater) and designed by Colin Richmond, the play runs on the RSC’s main stage Dec. 10 to March 2, 2014.

Incoming a.d. Gregory Doran will open the season with his own new production of “Richard II.” Running Oct. 10 to Nov. 16 on the RSC main stage and transferring to London’s Barbican theater Dec. 9 to Jan. 25, the production sees the return of stage and screen thesp David Tennant (BBC’s “Doctor Who”), who previously played Hamlet for Doran at the RSC.

Announcing his opening season, Doran pointed to the company’s continuing international presence. Its tuner hit “Matilda — the Musical” is running in the West End and readying its Broadway bow on April 11 in a week that will also see the arrival at BAM of Doran’s RSC staging of “Julius Caesar” set in Africa with an all-black cast.

Outlining the company’s ambitions, which include staging the entire Shakespeare canon of 37 plays over the next five years plus a search for a new and permanent London home to show the work in the capital, Doran argued that his plans for the company were not expansionist.

Referring to criticisms that the company returned to the same plays too often, he said: “I don’t want us to repeat plays. I want to avoid the conveyor-belt mentality. I want us to do less and to concentrate more on the craftsmanship around it.”

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