Leicester Cathedral is grateful for the emails, comments and letters arising out of our decision to host a production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. We have listened carefully and we have learnt that any decision we take about such matters will be deemed inappropriate by some individuals or groups and yet entirely appropriate by others. We aim to act thoughtfully and responsibly; weighing the conflicting voices.
These performances will go ahead as we engage in the dynamics between the man and the myths of King Richard III. The performances will take place in the main body of the building. We continue to work with the public day by day to ensure that the King’s grave is respected.
Cathedrals are principally places of Christian worship and witness but additionally they provide space for community events, exhibitions, concerts, dramas and debates. The sacred and the secular coexist as they have done since at least medieval times. In the years to come we expect that many artistic responses to Richard III will emerge including Shakespearean performances which we will curate with care whilst also maximising our engagement with our diverse and at times divergent communities.
The original press release and the Cathedral statement is below.
Award-winning theatre company Antic Disposition present a thrilling new production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. This darkly comic drama will be staged in six of England’s most historic cathedrals and London’s ancient Temple Church.
The tour will include two special performances in Leicester Cathedral – the first production of Richard III to be performed in the building since the king’s remains were discovered buried under a nearby car park and reinterred in the Cathedral in 2015. Antic Disposition’s Richard III also visits Ely, Peterborough, Gloucester, Bristol and Salisbury Cathedrals.
The Wars of the Roses are over and King Edward IV rules England. But his brother, Richard, is in no mood to celebrate. With murder, deceit and dark humour as his weapons, Richard overcomes friends and foes alike to seize the crown. But as the body count rises, he soon learns that a throne founded on blood offers little security.
Richard III concludes at Temple Church in London for a run of fifteen performances. Located in the secluded and tranquil heart of London’s legal quarter between Fleet Street and the River Thames, Temple Church was built by the Knights Templar in the 12th Century and is one of London’s most beautiful and historic buildings. Known for its unusual circular design, Temple Church recently gained fame as a key location in Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code.
Directors Ben Horslen and John Risebero comment:
After two sell-out cathedral tours with our First World War Henry V, we are delighted to be returning to these spectacular venues with a modern updating of Richard III. The historical Richard had his reputation trashed by his Tudor successors, and Shakespeare’s play is packed with ‘alternative facts’ designed to portray the king as a villain. By bringing our production to Leicester Cathedral, the king’s final resting place, we hope to entertain the audience with Shakespeare’s version of his story, while encouraging them to look beyond it at the more nuanced assessment of Richard that is now emerging.
Award-winning theatre company Antic Disposition, founded by director Ben Horslen and director/designer John Risebero, is best known for presenting innovative and visually striking productions of classic plays and stories in spectacular historic buildings. Past productions include A Christmas Carol in Middle Temple Hall, The Comedy of Errors in Gray’s Inn Hall and Henry V, which recently toured twelve UK cathedrals marking the centenary of the First World War and Shakespeare400.
Performances: 19th–20th July at Leicester Cathedral – 7.30pm
£25–£35 (Under 18s £10 off)
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes, including one interval
Box Office: www.richardiii.co.uk or on 0333 666 3366 – Please note that both performances are now sold out
Twitter: @anticdispo, #RichardIII
The Dean and Chapter of Leicester Cathedral are working to expand our cultural work. Shakepeare’s Richard III was last staged here in 2014. In the summer of 2015 children performed a musical written for schools entitled ‘The King in the Car Park’. In 2016 Michael Morpurgo read his ‘Fox and the Ghost King’ in the cathedral. Now in 2017 we host the first performances of Shakespeare’s Richard III since the reinterment of King Richard III.
The interest in Plantagenet history and in the impact of the events of Bosworth 1485 continues. Research by the Richard III Society with others has revealed new historical aspects which have reshaped understanding. Investigation by the University of Leicester, working with the Looking for Richard Project has provided further scientific insights. Shakespeare’s play will remain significant as a core work within the canon of English drama.
The Cathedral enables many to engage with different dimensions of this complex story. This helps us to make sense of our understandings of monarchy, disability, power, faith, science, the arts, history, fact and fiction. The legacy of the myths, the mystery and the man himself will continue to interplay and at times this will arouse strong responses.
These performances will be memorable as Richard’s earthly remains lie in our midst. Our commitment is to ensure that new generations keep on encountering his legacy. We hope that many more artistic and cultural responses to this story will emerge in years to come.
Ticket Details: £25.00 – £35.00 (under 18’s £10.00 off).
Available from www.richardiii.co.uk or on 0333 666 3366.