The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) today releases new artwork for the upcoming production of Much Ado About Nothing directed by Roy Alexander Weise. The new artwork is created by Àsìkò, a UK-based Nigerian conceptual artist whose solo exhibition ‘Of Myth and Legend’ is currently showing on Sloane Street in Knightsbridge, and whose ‘The Woman in the Photograph’ exhibition was recently seen in St James Market.
The artwork features Michael Balogun (Death of England: Delroy at the NT) and Akiya Henry (Macbeth at the Almeida), who play Benedick and Beatrice, pictured in costumes designed by Melissa Simon-Hartman, a London-based artist, couture fashion designer, and owner of Simon-Hartman London, whose West African and West Indian inspired designs recently featured in a powerful catalogue of music videos including ‘Mood 4 Eva’ and ‘My Power’ as part of Beyonce’s 2020 visual album: Black Is King.
Àsìkò said: “For me, the image was about celebrating new interpretations of the beloved Shakespeare characters using inspirations of Afrofuturism ideology. It is also a joy to bring the aesthetic of my African identity into a visual story as it celebrates my heritage and the amazing diversity that exists in the UK. Through the process of creating the work I sought to hybridise the English and African aspects of my heritage which is a common theme that flows through my work as an artist. Working with Roy, Melissa and the creative team was a great collaborative experience, the kind we as visual artists strive for in our journey.”
The show will run in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from 4 February to 12 March 2022, with press night on Tuesday 15 February 2022.
The company comprises Toyin Ayedun-Alase (Verges), Micah Balfour (Don John), Michael Balogun (Benedick), Rebecca Banatvala (Seacole), Michael Joel Bartelle (Sexton), Mensah Bediako (Antonio), Christelle Elwin (Messenger), DK Fashola (Friar), Kevin N Golding (Leonato), Akiya Henry (Beatrice), Karen Henthorn (Dogberry), Aruna Jalloh (Oatcake), Sapphire Joy (Margaret), Curtis Kemlo (Borachio), Denver-Isaac Kwashe (Conrade), Mohammed Mansaray (Claudio), Taya Ming (Hero), Ann Ogbomo (Don Pedra), Luke Wilson (Balthasar) and Adeola Yemitan (Ursula).
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The production will feature Set Design by Jemima Robinson, Lighting Design by Azusa Ono, Sound Design by Claire Windsor, Movement by DK Fashola, and Dramaturgy by Anthony Simpson-Pike. Costume Design is by Melissa Simon-Hartman.
The production will also feature an original score by Nigerian-born British guitarist and MOBO award-nominated musician Femi Temowo whose past collaborators include Amy Winehouse, Dee Dee Bridgewater, The Roots, and Soweto Kinch.
Written By: Bethany Arnold