William Shakespeare’s Richard III will be staged in Leicester Cathedral at the beginning of April 2014. The University of Leicester’s theatre group, LUTheatre, is making a giant 20ft² chessboard the stage for a revived production Richard III and is assembling a cast of 32 actors to represent its pieces.
LUTheatre is staging the production, which is endorsed by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), as part of the RSC’s ‘Open Stages’ scheme, being the only university student group to take part. ‘Open Stages’ – the UK’s largest amateur theatre project – will see Shakespeare staged in places as diverse as quarries and shopping centres, with players from all walks of life taking the stage.
Actors from LUTheatre have received on-site vocal training by RSC-associate staff and the directors and designers received mentoring from members of the RSC’s team in Stratford. Staging the play on a chessboard involved assembling a 32-strong cast, all dressed as black and white chess pieces. The 20ft2 chessboard will be surrounded by the audience.
Dr Roger Scoppie, LUTheatre Manager and director of the staging, said: “We don’t want our production to be tied to historical depictions of Richard III, or conventional images of him informed by Tudor propaganda. So our Richard enters as the White King’s Knight – staging the play on a chess board divorces it from its historical baggage.
“It’s a play about power, and what people will do to take power. If you don’t recognise those moves on a chess board… what are the chances you’ll recognise them when they’re happening around you?”
Dr Scoppie added: “This is, of course, a celebration of the discovery, including the spurring and sponsorship of the Richard III Society – and staged in Leicester Cathedral to boot: a place which has already seen Richard III memorialised, and will hopefully see Richard’s remains commended to God.”
Tickets for LUTheatre’s production of Richard III are £10 (concessions are £7) and are available from Embrace Arts at www.embracearts.co.uk.
All performances start at 7.00pm until late.