A promotional image for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s upcoming production of Macbeth.
The Royal Shakespeare Company, one of the world’s pre-eminent theatre organizations, announced yesterday that every single new mainstage production in its next season will be directed by women. The announcement came the same day as news broke of the death of Sir Peter Hall, the company’s founder. Hall founded the RSC in 1960 and lead it from 1960-1968.
The directors for the company’s Summer 2018 season are Polly Findlay, Erica Whyman, Fiona Laird, Maria Aberg, and Jo Davies. In a sign of England’s mild weather compared to Minnesota, “Summer 2018” in this case runs from March–September 2018.
Findlay will direct Macbeth, which will star Christopher Eccleston in his RSC debut as Macbeth and Niamh Cusack as Lady Macbeth. Whyman, RSC’s deputy artistic director, will direct Romeo and Juliet and the new musical Miss Littlewood. Laird will direct The Merry Wives of Windsor. Aberg will direct The Duchess of Malfi. Davies will direct The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich (or The Beau Defeated), an updated adaptation of the 17th-century play by Mary Pix.
The season also includes a short revival of RSC’s 2016 King Lear production, which was directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran. Doran stated that the all-female slate for new productions was not a deliberate hiring decision, but a reflection of the artists’ professional development.
The announcement comes in the context of Shakespeare’s Globe committing to a season-wide 50:50 male:female casting balance, and Doran announcing that his own upcoming production of Troilus and Cressida would also follow a 50:50 casting balance.