Royal Shakespeare Company and BBC One look for a new Bottom

Shakespeare in stained glass at the Chateau Impney Hotel
2016 is a momentous year for the Royal Shakespeare Company – it’s the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. As part of the celebrations, the Company is taking on its biggest challenge ever and the BBC is here to follow it all the way.

“My reputation is definitely on the line, because it’s got to be the finest production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that I could possibly deliver. The most daunting aspect for me was the uncertainty of bringing together the professional company with the amateur actors and the schoolchildren; it was a project like no other that the RSC had ever taken on. Having the BBC’s cameras there to follow us from auditions to opening night has added another element of surprise – but it’s fantastic to have these documentaries to follow this once-in-a-lifetime experience.” – Erica Whyman is the deputy artistic director at the Royal Shakespeare Company

Performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream – one of Shakespeare’s best loved comedies – a professional cast will tour the country, but there’s something unique about this production. Alongside the cast of professionals, six actors from a local amateur company will play the Mechanicals, a group of parts which includes the famous role of Bottom.

With unprecedented access, BBC English Regions is capturing all of the action in nine 30-minute regional documentaries, to show just how hard it can be to find The Best Bottoms in the Land. The Best Bottoms In The Land follows the pressures and pitfalls of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s project, from auditions to the opening night of each region’s local performance.

Juggling real life with the pressures of appearing in a professional production has certainly been a challenge for the amateur actors. There have been sore throats, bruised egos, missed cues and even broken bones along the way – but, of course, the show must go on. BBC cameras have been on hand to capture the emotions over the past year as the tour has travelled the length of the country giving once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to amateur actors.

“Working with the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as all the amateur companies and the theatres across the country, has been a real privilege. The Best Bottoms In The Land has brought some fantastic insights into the worlds of amateur – and professional – theatre in some hugely enjoyable programmes. These aren’t programmes about Shakespeare as such, they’re programmes about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, under the most incredible pressure, so whether you’re fan of the Bard or not, they’re well worth a watch.” – Ed Barlow, series producer for The Best Bottoms In The Land

The Best Bottoms In The Land will air on the 20th of May, 7.30pm, BBC One English Regions and BBC One HD.

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One comment

  • Jeremy Corblimey

    I guess the bottom hasn’t fallen out of the playwrite business yet… boom tish.