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Royal Shakespeare Company puts spotlight on creative process at UM

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Manuel Harlan
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Royal Shakespeare Company
In his madness, King Lear (Ian McKellen) reaches lucidity. His conversation with Gloucester (William Gaunt) reveals a new awareness of the world.

Members of the Royal Shakespeare Company are back in Ann Arbor, but they won’t be performing any of the classics while they’re in town.

The RSC is doing a “creative residency” at U of M this month, which means they'll focus on the development of two new plays - "Boris Godunov,” and “The Orphan of Zhao."

U of M English Professor Ralph Williams says the residency allows students to get an insight into the creative process, and a sense of what he calls “possible excellence." Here's how he describes it:

"If I work hard at it and am really dedicated to it and am willing to discipline myself as they disciplined themselves, I just might become that good, too."

The Royal Shakespeare Company will be at U of M through Monday, with several events are open to the public.

This year's "creative residency" is similar to one the RSC did in 2010, where they developed three new plays: "Cardenio," "Written on the Heart," and "The Heresy of Love."

The University of Michigan's Montage has more on the 2010 residency:

As a result of the work completed in “Creative Residency 2010” all three plays were produced for performance at Stratford-upon-Avon. “Written on the Heart” and “The Heresy of Love” are currently being performed, while “Cardenio” ran from late spring through October of last year. These workshops occur on the heels of the RSC’s successful U.S. residency last summer, where it performed five plays in repertory—plus two Young People’s Shakespeare productions—in New York’s Park Avenue Armory. That residency was presented by the Park Avenue Armory and Lincoln Center Festival, in association with The Ohio State University. The RSC has a long-standing relationship with American audiences and patrons, many of whom see the company perform at its home in England’s Stratford-upon-Avon. The recent New York residency has encouraged the company to further develop its audiences—and its work—in the U.S. Universities such as U-M provide a special haven for the RSC’s developmental process. “The interactions among the RSC members, U-M faculty and students makes for an exciting exploration of the creative process,” said Gary Krenz, special counsel to U-M President Mary Sue Coleman.

The RSC wrapped up the last of its three "performance residencies" at the U of M back in 2006, when they performed "Antony and Cleopatra," "Julius Caesar," and "The Tempest."

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.
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