DOES Shakespeare still shock? – that is the question the RSC will seeking to answer during its new production of Titus Andronicus.
Titus Andronicus is renowned for being Shakespeare’s goriest play. The the body count quickly piles up and the blood flows during the revenge tragedy, which runs at the RST in Stratford until September 2 as part of the RSC’s current Rome Season.
During the Blanche McIntyre-directed production, an innovative audience research project will be conducted in collaboration with Ipsos MORI to monitor the emotional engagement of a theatre and cinema audience.
It aims to explore if Shakespeare does still shock, and whether the emotional engagement of watching a play live at the theatre is the same or different to that of watching it live at the cinema.
The RSC will recruit a sample of participants who will wear a heart rate monitor on their wrist throughout their experience of watching the play.
There will be two groups, a sample of theatre audiences who will watch the show at the RST, and a second group will watch the ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’, broadcast of Titus Andronicus in a cinema when it is streamed live on August 9.
The two groups will be demographically matched based on age, theatre experience and gender to achieve a comparable set of results.
As well as monitoring their heart rate as they watch Titus Andronicus, the participants will immediately after the show complete a series of short interviews, to explore the strength of reaction and engagement.
There has been previous research around the impact of cinema broadcasts, but this will be the very first time there will be direct measurement and comparison of the emotional experience of both theatre and cinema audiences for a Shakespeare play.
The results and findings from the project will be released in November.
Visit www.rsc.org.uk for tickets and further details.
* In last week’s paper we incorrectly stated David Troughton would be be playing the lead in this autumn’s RSC production of Coriolanus. Mr Troughton is actually playing the title role in Titus Andonicus. Sope Dirisu plays the title role in Coriolanus. We apologise for any confusion caused.