Synopsis: "She’s like no one I’ve ever met... She’s like fire and water all at once." Warwickshire, 1582. Agnes Hathaway, a natural healer, meets the Latin tutor, William Shakespeare. Drawn together by powerful but hidden impulses, they create a life together and make a family. As William moves to London to discover his place in the world of theatre, Agnes stays at home to raise their three children but she is the constant presence and purpose of his life. When the plague steals 11-year-old Hamnet from his loving parents, they must each confront their loss alone. And yet, out of the greatest suffering, something of extraordinary wonder is born. This new play based on Maggie O'Farrell's best-selling novel, adapted by award-winning playwright Lolita Chakrabarti (Life of Pi, Red Velvet, Hymn), pulls back a curtain on the imagined family life of the greatest writer in the English language. Hamnet is a love letter to passion, birth, grief and the magic of nature.
Artistic Statement: "I could not be more thrilled to be directing Lolita’s much-anticipated adaptation of Hamnet – a novel that moved and inspired me and so many others in the darkest days of lockdown.
"It has been a privilege to collaborate with Lolita as she develops her adaptation, which beautifully reimagines Maggie O’Farrell’s compelling novel for the stage. I am delighted to be working once more with Tom Piper (design), Prema Mehta (lighting) and Oğuz Kaplangi (music and sound design), all of whom relish the emotional power and theatrical possibilities of this story.
"It is especially fitting that this production will reopen the RSC’s unique Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, after three years of closure, evoking as it does a different time in the town – one that not only gave birth to our house playwright but one which knew what it was to live through waves of pandemic, of grief and recovery." - RSC Acting Artistic Director, Erica Whyman
Grant Statement: As the RSC continues to navigate the ongoing financial pressures of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, philanthropic support will play a crucial role in enabling us to commission and produce vivid new plays with epic imagination.
The RSC are tremendously proud to be the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, which will be instrumental in enabling us to stage this ambitious world premiere.
The Foundation’s generous support will underpin an additional week of rehearsal, providing the creative team with the space, time and resources needed to create an extraordinary piece of theatre that fully encapsulates the rich world of O’Farrell’s best-selling novel.