An English-language production of Shakespeare’s tragedy Richard III is coming to the Estates Theatre on December 2. Prague Shakespeare Company reprises the production that they brought to Prague Castle in the summer of 2016, with a few changes.
The Estates Theatre is one of the most opulent venues in Europe, and the only one left standing where Mozart conducted a premiere of his own work. It was also used in the film Amadeus. It normally has plays in Czech, so English productions are a true rarity. Richard III will also have supertitles in Czech, from the translation by Martin Hilský.
The play marks the acting return to Prague of PSC favorite, the former British Ambassador to the Czech Republic Jan Thompson OBE as Queen Elizabeth. PSC artistic director Guy Roberts directs and stars as Richard III, a man audiences have loved to hate for over 400 years.
“So delighted to be back in my beloved Prague and acting once again with the amazing Prague Shakespeare Company at the historic Estates Theatre. Now living in Delhi as the British Deputy High Commissioner to India, I leapt at the opportunity when PSC director Guy Roberts suggested I return to Prague to reprise my role as Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare’s Richard III. It’s one of my favorite roles, in what is one of Shakespeare’s most powerful and compelling dramas,” Thompson said.
American TV actor Lane Davies plays Edward IV. Aside from extensive stage experience with the Shakespeare and a long run with the musical Man of La Mancha, he has appeared on TV in shows like Seinfeld, Married… with Children, and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He had recurring roles on 3rd Rock from the Sun, The Nanny, Dallas, The Golden Girls, Empty Nest, and Ellen, among other shows.
“It’s always gratifying to work with a company the caliber of Guy Roberts’ Prague Shakespeare Company. Combine that with the opportunity to perform in the incomparable Estates Theatre, and to be in Prague at Christmastime, and you have the makings of a perfect holiday,” Davies said.
Roberts said that Richard III was always relevant. “Richard the III is one of those Shakespeare plays that never goes out of style,” Roberts said, citing current events. “Richard IIIs pop up their heads continuously, so it’s always in the repertoire, and we think it will have a lot of significance for some political things going on today,” Roberts said.
The production uses a mix of costumes from different eras. Roberts said this production is set in an “everywhere and nowhere kind of world” where some of the costumes are historically accurate, while some are modern day. “We have guns and we have swords,” he said. The play also makes use of video to add another modern layer.
He cited an illustrating called “The Peacham Drawing,” the only surviving depiction of a scene from a production during Shakespeare’s time. This drawing of Titus Andronicus shows some people in togas while others were in contemporary Elizabethan clothes. “This is the way PSC does a lot of our Shakespeare productions because we think it’s right in line with how Shakespeare did it,” Roberts said.
Other PSC favorites in the production include Jessica Boone, Scott Bellefeuille, Lane Davies, Taylor Napier, Vanessa Azyzah Gendron, Abigail Rice, Cathy Meils, Jeff Good Jeff Smith, John Poston, Daniel Brown, Bob Boudreaux, Stanislav Callas, Grant Podelco, Lea Skleničková, Lenka Olšanová, Erik Black and David Fisher among others.
The Prague Shakespeare Company (PSC) is a professional English-language troupe based in Prague. It focuses mainly on the plays of William Shakespeare. Its mission is to bring to the Czech Republic, European and World audiences English-language performances, using a multi-national ensemble.