University academic advises Royal Shakespeare Company

3 April 2024

Professor Niki Alsford has acted as a consultant for the RSC’s upcoming performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost

A University of Central Lancashire professor has acted as a consultant on an upcoming Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) production.

Niki Alsford, a Professor in Asia Pacific Studies, has been called upon to offer his expertise for the contemporary interpretation of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

The play, which sees four men tested as they take an oath to isolate themselves from the distractions of women and love for three years, is set in the Pacific and Niki was asked to provide a variety of geographical and cultural insights.

He also worked directly with director Emily Burns and the cast, offering advice on the development of the lead female character Princess.

Niki said: “It was an absolute honour to be able to use my knowledge to help the RSC. Although my knowledge of Shakespeare stretches way back to when I was at school studying Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, this play was new to me.

“Emily approached me out of the blue via email and we decided to meet while I was attending a conference in London. We had a great chat and she then asked me to attend a rehearsal with the full cast in Clapham.”

"It was an absolute honour to be able to use my knowledge to help the RSC"

Niki Alsford, a Professor in Asia Pacific Studies

While speaking to the cast, which included Bridgerton actor Luke Thompson, Niki spoke about the importance the ocean plays in the region.

“When people think about the Pacific, they imagine paradise with white sandy beaches, stunning blue waters and glorious sunshine,” he said. “But it’s not all paradise, there are storm surges, typhoons and some of the islands are sinking. The ocean is so important to the Pacific region and its people and it’s also a really diverse area so it’s integral that comes through in this modern-day interpretation of the comedy.”

He added: “The cast were asking many in-depth questions to enable them to hone their characters and have a true sense of how to play them. I was also asked questions which helped with ideas for the set design.

“It was really great for me because usually I’m speaking to fellow academics, but this was a different way of sharing my research and having a different kind of engagement with intelligent and interested people.”

The play will run from 11 April to 18 May at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Tickets are available online or via 01789 331111.

*Main photo credit to Seamus Ryan

Professor Niki Alsford
Professor Niki Alsford