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The Tempest - the Donmar at King's Cross

Harriet Walter at Kings Cross (photo by Holly Wren.

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

IN 2012, Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female production of Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse placed the play in a women’s prison. It stunned audiences on both sides of the Atlantic and challenged the idea of ‘who owns Shakespeare?’

In 2014, Phyllida reunited with actor Harriet Walter for Henry IV, the second instalment in what was then announced as a trilogy of works from these major artists.

With the Donmar’s education and outreach work in London and New York, both productions proved hugely popular with young audiences and showed how powerfully Shakespeare can develop individual confidence and creativity in those who have never experienced his work before. Importantly, they challenged the notion of who owns Shakespeare and inspired women from all backgrounds.

This autumn the project will conclude with The Tempest (from September 23, 2016), breaking free from the Donmar Warehouse, with a new 420-seat in-the-round temporary theatre, built at the King’s Cross Theatre site, in association with Theatre Tracks. Read more.

The Tempest reunites director Phyllida Lloyd with actor Harriet Walter, who will play Prospero. They will be joined by a number of the Henry IV and Julius Caesar cast – Jade Anouka, Shiloh Coke, Jackie Clune, Karen Dunbar, Clare Dunne, Zainab Hasan, Jennifer Joseph, Sophie Stanton, Sharon Rooney, and Caroline Valdés. Others joining the company include Sheila Atim and Martina Laird.

Director Phyllida Lloyd said:

“The premise was to take the most voiceless group you might imagine – women prisoners. Refugees from our culture if you like – people without any access to the internet even – and watch them electrify an audience with nothing but Shakespeare’s language. Harriet’s work ethic defines the whole thing. Mighty verse speaking, the utmost humility and the greatest good humour. The company will follow her anywhere.”

The Tempest will transfer to New York’s St. Ann’s Warehouse in January 2017, concluding an unprecedented eight months of Donmar productions in the US.

Phyllida Lloyd returns to the Donmar after productions of Henry IV, Julius Caesar, Boston Marriage, The Threepenny Opera and Mary Stuart, which won the 2006 South Bank Show Theatre Award, and later transferred to the West End and Broadway. Her other theatre work includes The Taming of the Shrew (The Delacorte Theater in Central Park), Six Degrees of Separation, Wild East (Royal Court), Pericles, The Duchess of Malfi, What the Butler Saw, The Way of the World and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (National Theatre), The Virtuoso and Artists and Admirers (RSC) and Mamma Mia! (London, New York and worldwide, also 2008 film).

Her opera productions include La Bohème, Albert Herring, Gloriana, Carmen and Peter Grimes – Royal Philharmonic Society Award and a South Bank Show Award (Opera North), Macbeth (Opéra-Bastille, Royal Opera), The Carmelites (ENO, WNO), The Handmaid’s Tale (Royal Danish Opera, ENO), a staged Verdi Requiem and Wagner’s Ring Cycle (ENO) and an award-winning film of Gloriana (BBC2). Her most recent film was The Iron Lady, reuniting her with Meryl Streep.

Harriet Walter (playing Brutus, Henry IV, Prospero) returns to the roles of Henry IV, and Brutus, having appeared in the 2012 and 2014 productions which transferred to St. Ann’s Warehouse in New York. She also appeared at the Donmar, in the West End and on Broadway in Lloyd’s 2006 award-winning production of Mary Stuart.

Walter’s extensive theatre credits include Death of a Salesman, Women Beware Women, Dinner, Life Times Three, The Children’s Hour, Arcadia (National Theatre), Venus and Adonis, Antony & Cleopatra, The Hollow Crown, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth (RSC), The Royal Family (Theatre Royal, Haymarket), Ivanov (Almeida Theatre), Boa (Trafalgar Studios) and Hedda Gabler (Chichester Festival Theatre and tour).

Walter’s numerous screen credits include Black Sails, The Crown, London Spy and Little Dorrit (TV); Denial, Sense of an Ending, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Man Up, Suite Française, From Time To Time and The Young Victoria (film).

The Tempest is designed by Chloe Lamford, with theatre environment design by Bunny Christie, lighting by James Farncombe, sound by Peter Malkin and movement direction by Ann Yee. Assistant Director is Ola Ince.

Public booking opens on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

Booking for Donmar members begins on Tuesday, June 7.

For more information visit

Image: Harriet Walter at Kings Cross. Photo by Holly Wren.

Donmar at King’s Cross, King’s Boulevard, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4BU