The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) today announce that Reuben Joseph and Valene Kane will make their RSC debut playing the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth respectively in Wils Wilson’s upcoming production of Shakespeare’s gripping and brutal tragedy.
The production opens in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from Saturday 19 August – Saturday 14 October 2023, with Press Night on Wednesday 30 August at 7pm. Further casting will be announced later this month.
Reuben Joseph is currently playing the title role of Alexander Hamilton in the multi award-winning West End production of Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hamilton, which opened at the newly re-built and restored Victoria Palace Theatre in London in December 2017.
Reuben trained at Glasgow Clyde College and graduated in 2018. Additional theatre credits include The Tragedy of Macbeth (Almeida); Orphans, Rapunzel, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, Midsummer (National Theatre Scotland) Sinbad (Perth Theatre); How Not to Drown (ThickSkin); Anything That Gives Off Light (The TEAM) and A Christmas Carol (Citizens Theatre). Television includes: Vigil, Traces (BBC) and Crime (Britbox/ITVX). Radio credits include Hoping, Fissures, This Thing of Darkness, The Kids and Table (BBC).
Commenting on the announcement, Reuben Joseph said:
“I don't think there's a single Scottish actor who hasn't dreamt of getting their hands on the part of Macbeth. For it to be my RSC debut - following in the footsteps of some of my acting heroes, "stands not within the prospect of belief". Playing Alexander Hamilton has me well versed in the disastrous consequences of ambition. Not to mention Hamilton's own self-comparison to Macbeth in the show. They share a driving force, though one of them with far bloodier methods. I'm fascinated by the question of 'how far can a person compromise their moral code, before they compromise their soul?' It's a notion that resonates deeply with audiences, who after four-hundred years, keep coming back to this story. That same pull draws me to the character, humbled at the prospect, but excited for the challenge.
I’m incredibly grateful to Wils for entrusting me with this role and can’t wait for you all to see the world she is creating for the show. It promises to be Scotland as Stratford-upon Avon has never seen it before. Hopefully, we’ll see you there on the blasted heath.”
Valene Kane trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama.
Her previous theatre credits include Miss Julie (Reading Rep), The Lonesome West (Mercury Theatre), The Rivals (National Youth Theatre), Autumn Fire (Finborough Theatre) and Distortion (The MAC, Belfast).
Television includes: The Fall, Blue Lights, Gangs of London, The Winter King, Thirteen, Hanna, The Other Guy, Women on the Verge, Queen of the South, Death and Nightingales, Counsel.
Film includes: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 71, Profile, Nowhere Special, 5 ½ Love Stories, First Person and Sonja: The White Swan
Valene’s writing credits include: Mother Country (currently in Development with Story Films) and feature film, Our House (also in development)
Valene Kane said:
“Lady Macbeth. She has become a synonym of the word evil and yet she is a role so many women resonate with, and certainly a role that has always captivated me: at once fearless, determined, powerful and vulnerable.
I am fascinated by the interplay of the feminine and masculine, both within her and within the play. The complexities of relationship dynamics, and the investigation of a woman’s power in her marriage and in society, are so fertile here. Lady Macbeth is a gift and a privilege for any actor to dive into and it would not be an overstatement to say that I am ecstatic to be making my RSC debut in this role.
One of the first words Wils used in her vision for the play was ‘wild’. We are teetering on the edge of catastrophe, where the stakes are high, and every choice carries with it life-changing consequences. This take feels so right: their extraordinary actions are born out of an extraordinary world.
As the only Irish actress within an otherwise all-Scottish company, there’s an added dynamic to the Macbeth’s relationship which I’m looking forward to exploring in rehearsals; the idea of Lady Macbeth as ‘other’, as an ‘outsider’. I cannot wait to begin.
Macbeth is directed by Wils Wilson with Design by Georgia McGuinness, Lighting by Kai Fischer, Music by Alasdair Macrae and Sound by Claire Windsor. Movement and Choreography is by Julia Cheng, Fights by Kaitlin Howard with Casting by Simone PereiraHind CDG and Anna Dawson.
Director Wils Wilson commented; “Once I met Reuben and Valene it was impossible to imagine anyone else as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.
Reuben is an incredibly exciting Scottish actor. His rise has been pretty meteoric and it feels completely right that Macbeth is what comes next for him. He’s got it all - he’s a deep soul, and also a quick wit with that sense of play which all great actors have.
Valene shines in everything she does on stage or screen. She explores a role fearlessly and she is a towering intelligence and passion. She blew me away at audition and I’m so excited to be in a rehearsal room with her. We liked the idea of Lady Macbeth - Gruach as we are calling her - as an outsider, so she is the only person in the company who is not Scottish but Irish.
The world of this production is an imagined near-future - the climate is more extreme, there’s scarcity of resources and war. It’s a play about choices, the choices the Macbeths make, the choices all the characters make, and it asks us to look at our own choices and where they might lead.”
Wils Wilson directed and co-created The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart which has been touring non-theatre spaces internationally since 2010, winning numerous awards including a Drama Desk Award for its New York run.
She is Associate Director at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, where she directed Life is A Dream whose ‘wild, slightly punk-inflected brilliance’ (The Scotsman) recently won multiple awards at the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland, including Best Director, and for which Lorn MacDonald and Anna Russell Martin also won Ian Charleston Awards.
Her work at the Lyceum also includes Wind Resistance, created with singer-songwriter Karine Polwart and described as "a poignant, unflinching and beautiful show about healing, protection, the fragility of human life and the world around it.” (The Telegraph) for Edinburgh International Festival, Red Ellen (Edinburgh Lyceum/Northern Stage/Nottingham Playhouse), Twelfth Night (Bristol Old Vic/Lyceum), Cockpit and The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other.
Her other work includes the Olivier-nominated I Want My Hat Back for the National Theatre and shows for the Royal Court, Manchester Royal Exchange and Welsh National Opera.
She has worked extensively for National Theatre of Scotland, including The 306 Dusk, the final part of the trilogy remembering the 306 soldiers shot for desertion in WWI. She created two genre-defying shows with musician Gruff Rhys for National Theatre Wales - Praxis Makes Perfect (Best Director, Welsh Theatre Awards) described as “some sort of god-damn creative masterclass” by Artrocker magazine and Candylion.
Until 2007 Wils was co-Artistic Director of wilson+wilson, making site-specific work across the UK, where her work included HOUSE, Mapping the Edge, News from the Seventh Floor and Mulgrave.
Tickets available here: Tickets | Macbeth | Royal Shakespeare Company (rsc.org.uk)
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