Troop Crams 118 Years of Shakespeare Into 2 Months

RSC mounts all 8 history plays with one cast in London
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2008 10:23 AM CDT
A scene from Richard III, the last of Shakespeare's eight histories, as performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in London.   (Courtesy RSC)
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(Newser) – Shakespeare's eight history plays cover 118 years of English royal succession, but one troop of actors is going to present the entire span in just two months. The Royal Shakespeare Company has decamped from Stratford-upon-Avon to London, where they are mounting all the plays in repertory on a single set. Bloomberg reports on the unprecedented project, which calls on a cast of 34 to master 528 roles.

For Michael Boyd, who has previously directed seven of the eight, mounting the Histories as one project required him to plot trajectories for his actors across the plays. The actors playing the French villians in Henry V, for example, are "reincarnated" later as Richard III and his henchmen. Will audiences be open to hours and hours of war, politics, and intrigue? Of course, says Boyd: the Histories are hardly that different from the Sopranos.