March 25, 2023


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Headlining is Madeleine Mantock, star of ‘Charmed’ from the RSC’s ‘Hamnet’

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Madeleine Mantock (“Charmed”) will make her Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) debut with “Hamnet,” the stage adaptation of Maggie O’Farrell’s best-selling novel.

Set in 1582, “Hamnet” follows Agnes Hathaway, a naturopath who meets Latin teacher William Shakespeare and they build a life together and raise a family. While Shakespeare moved to London to find his place in the world of theatre, Hathaway stayed at home to raise their three children. When the plague steals 11-year-old Hamnet from his loving parents, they must each face their loss alone. And yet, out of the greatest pain, something extraordinary is born.

Mantock will play Shakespeare alongside Hathaway as Tom Varey, also making his RSC debut. Also starring Peter Witt, Sarah Belcher, Will Brown, Haydon Burke, Ajani Cabe, Faye Campbell, Frankie Hastings, Carl Haynes, Alex Jarrett, Hannah McPeak, Rose Riley, Elizabeth Ryder, Harmony Rose-Bremner and Obioma Ugoala.

“Hamnet,” produced by RSC and Neil Street Productions in association with Hera Pictures, is adapted by Lolita Chakraborty (“Life of Pi”) and directed by RSC acting artistic director Erica Whyman.

The production will feature set and costume design by Tom Piper, lighting by Prema Mehta, sound by Xana, music by Oguz Kaplangi, casting by Amy Ball CDG, movement by Ayse Tashkiran and fight by Kate Waters.

Chakraborty said: “Writing this play became more challenging because of the massive influence of Maggie O’Farrell’s novel. Each reader seems to have a very personal connection to this story. Shakespeare is studied, examined, and admired all over the world, and at times, I’ve found it presumptuous to add my own flavor to this iconic man. When I began researching 16th century Stratford and London I was immediately drawn to the diversity of England. It no longer surprised me that there were all kinds of people here. This is how the world works – immigration has always been a reality and, as expected, many of them have integrated into British society.

There is limited information about Agnes/Anne Hathaway but I like to play with history and fiction and weld them together so that one informs the other. It has been a great privilege to see Shakespeare through my detailed research and personal lens. The woman behind the playwright is a fascinating character and after studying Maggie’s book, it is now clear to me that her son was the inspiration for one of the greatest pieces of our English literature.”

“Hamnet” has sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide and was named both the 2020 Waterstones Book of the Year and the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. O’Farrell has been named the winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

The theater adaptation will have its world premiere at Stratford-upon-Avon’s newly restored Swan Theater in April, marking the venue’s first reopening in more than three years after the pandemic and a period of major renovations that ensued. In January 2022.

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