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Best Friends in Shakespeare

Hamlet and Horatio

Hamlet: “Give me that man that is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him in my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart, as I do thee.” Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 2

In Hamlet’s world of madness and paranoia, Horatio is the only person he really trusts. When Hamlet is dying, Horatio even tries to die with him, but Hamlet stops him and entrusts him with telling his tragic story.

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC)

Rosalind and Celia

Celia: “Shall we part, sweet girl? No: let my father seek another heir.” As You Like It, Act 1 Scene 3

When Celia’s father banishes Rosalind, Celia decides to give up her rich and comfortable life and run away with Rosalind to live in the Forest of Arden together. 

(Photo by Keith Pattison © RSC)

Antonio and Sebastian 

Antonio: “If you will not murder me for my love, let me be your servant.” Twelfth Night, Act 2 Scene 1

Antonio rescues Sebastian, who comes ashore after he’s shipwrecked. When Sebastian leaves him to go to Orsino’s court, Antonio decides to follow despite having many enemies in the court.

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC)

Beatrice and Hero 

Beatrice: “O God, that I were a man! I would eat his heart in the market-place.” Much Ado About Nothing, Act 5 Scene 1

Beatrice is indignant when Hero is falsely accused of adultery at her own wedding. Beatrice stands beside her cousin when no one else believes her, and defies anyone who doubts Hero’s innocence.

(Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC)

Emilia and Desdemona

Emilia: “Let heaven and men and devils, let them all,
All, all, cry shame against me, yet I’ll speak.” Othello, Act 5 Scene 2

Emilia makes the mistake of giving Iago Desdemona’s handkerchief, which leads to her mistress’s death. Risking her own life, Emilia tells everyone the truth about Iago, and dies by Desdemona’s side.

(Photo by Keith Pattison © RSC)

Gender Swap on  the RSC Stage

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC)

King Cymbeline is turned into a Queen in our current production of Cymbeline. Here are some other characters who have had their genders switched in one of our shows… 

1. Pisanio/Pisania

(Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC) 

Also from Cymbeline, Pisania (played by Kelly Williams) is Posthumus’s servant, and is ordered to kill Innogen for her apparent adultery. Pisania knows Innogen is innocent, and helps her escape by making Innogen cross dress and hide away in Wales. 

2. Flaminio

(Photo by Keith Pattison © RSC) 

Vittoria’s scheming brother became a scheming sister in Maria Aberg’s 2014 production of The White Devil. Here is Laura Elphinstone playing Flaminio. 

3. The Bastard

(Photo by Keith Pattison © RSC)

The Bastard, the illegitimate son of Richard I in King John, is played by a woman, Pippa Nixon. Maria Aberg directed the play in 2012. 

4. Guildenstern

(Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC) 

Rosencranzt and Guildenstern are Hamlet’s insincere university friends. Bethan Cullinane plays Guildenstern in our current Hamlet

5. Bottom

(Photo by Topher McGrillis © RSC) 

Becky Morris played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation when the tour went to Nottingham.

Last but not least - Hamlet the Dame by Judi Dench!

(Photo by Helen Maybanks © RSC) 

Women in power

Today the UK woke up to its second female Prime Minister. To mark the occasion we’ve come up with some powerful women of our own. 

1. Cymbeline

As the Queen of Britain, Cymbeline has both the royal blood and the political responsibility. Unfortunately, her husband is a bad influence who leads the country to war, but she manages to resolve the conflict peacefully in the end.

(Gillian Bevan as Cymbeline, photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC)

2. Gertrude 

Hamlet’s mother might not directly rule Denmark, but her thoughts and actions affect both King Claudius and Prince Hamlet. 

(Tanya Moodie as Gertrude) 

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The Gunpowder Plot and Shakespeare's Macbeth

Macbeth © Ellie Kurttz 2010

It is often said that Macbeth is a comment on The Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Our Research Team have done some investigating and have found some interesting connections that could prove that this is true. 

Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish Play’ was probably written in 1606, just three years after James I was crowned as Elizabeth’s successor, and so undoubtedly seems to be paying homage to the succession of the Scottish King to the English throne. But within that time, in November 1605, the Gunpowder Plot had been discovered: the plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament, kill James and replace him with a Catholic monarch failed and the plotters were tortured and horribly executed. The impact of the event was so dramatic that we still remember it today on Bonfire Night, so we can only imagine the enormity of the event for Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

Why are the Gunpowder plot and Macbeth connected?

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