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Richard II Director - Gregory Doran Q&A

Our Artistic Director Gregory Doran talks about regime change, working with David Tennant and filming his show.

Why did you want to direct Richard II? 
On one level it's a play about the last medieval monarch and on another level it's about regime change and rulers who think they have the God given right to power and it's about others pushing them from power under the pretext of being for 'the national good'. Those themes are obviously still very potent today.

Why do you want to film the show? 
I am very excited about the potential reach of the RSC's work with this film, especially with the streaming into thousands of schools which will allow schoolchildren to interact with David Tennant and myself as part of this project.

It means that the RSC will gain a much wider national and international reach - which is great news.

Why did you want to work with David Tennant again after Hamlet? 
The thing about David and why I love working with him is that he is a consummate professional. He is at absolute ease with Shakespeare's language and effortlessly makes it sound contemporary.

He is also one of the hardest working actors I know, and never appears in rehearsals without knowing his lines! He also has a great sense of humour - which is why his Hamlet was so witty- he gets the humour in things.

How will your show look? 
Shakespeare's history plays are both prophesies and warnings. He used history as a prism through which to examine his own contemporary political situation and comment upon it. So he uses the story of a medieval king as a metaphor and we can do that too.

The play includes jousts, castles and battles so we are keeping that medieval metaphor but the story of the play will definitely chime with contemporary themes.

Should theatres film their shows regularly? 
I cannot speak for other theatre companies but filming live theatre is an interesting new phenomenon, but the only danger is becoming formulaic - so we aim to take each RSC show on a case by case basis as each has its own challenges.

Why is it so special that it is coming live for Stratford-upon-Avon? 
There is something special about breathing the same air as Shakespeare breathed. The connection to him is evident every day here in Stratford - even the town's street plan has not changed that much since his time.

And the town has focused on him for the past 130 odd years with a tradition of performing his work, so every production is part of a historical continuum.

This production is the lyrical tragedy of Richard II but is also part of the canon and part of an RSC tradition to put the History plays into the wider context - and each Artistic Director has done their own take on this throughout the decades.

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