Mike Poulton is adapting Robert Harris’ bestselling Cicero trilogy (Cornerstone) in a new stage production to be directed by Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Gregory Doran. It will be performed as part of the RSC's new season in Stratford in November 2017.
Poulton, who is Tony-nominated for his adaptations of Hilary Mantel's Man Booker Prize-winning novels Bring Up the Bodies and Wolf Hall in 2013 for the RSC, is adapting the trilogy to be staged as six plays and presented as two performances: Part I: Conspirator and Part II: Dictator.
Billed as "a backstage view of Rome at its most bloody and brutal", the performances will trace the triumphs and disasters of Rome’s greatest orator, as he defends Rome’s Republic against the predatory attacks of political rivals, discontented aristocrats and would-be military dictators, as told through the eyes of Cicero’s loyal secretary, Tiro.
The productions will be designed by theatre set and costume designer Anthony Ward.
Harris said: "It's a curious fact that Shakespeare in his Roman plays gives hardly any lines to Cicero, arguably the greatest orator in history. So I'm especially delighted that through the RSC his voice will at last be heard on stage in Stratford. There could hardly be a more timely moment to look at the collapse of the Roman Republic, a political institution destroyed by ambition, money and unscrupulous demagogues who treated the laws with contempt."
Part I of the play opens on 16th November 2017, and Part II opens on 23rd November 2017. Both parts will run until 10th February 2018.
The trilogy, which comprises books Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator, has sold 544,775 copies overall for £3.6m, each paperback selling north of 50,000 copies.