Saturday November 17th, 7.30pm, Coventry Cathedral
'How do we think about identity in ways that don't reflect anxiety, fear of the other, uncritical adulation of our past and all the other pitfalls that surround this subject? The Redcrosse project manages to negotiate these difficulties with immense imaginative energy and honesty: no sour notes, no attempt to overcompensate by desperately overapologetic rhetoric, simply a recovery of deep roots and generous vision. As much as it takes its cue from Spenser, it's a contemporary working out of some of the great and inexhaustible legacy of Blake, a unique contribution to what is often a pretty sterile discussion of who we are in these islands.' Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, UK
On the evening of Saturday the 17th of November the RSC will be performing Redcrosse at Coventry Cathedral – the new poetic liturgy for England and St George which Ewan Fernie (Shakespeare Institute) wrote with the major poets Jo Shapcott, Michael Symmons Roberts and Andrew Motion, and the theologian Andrew Shanks, as part of a multi-grant-winning Religion and Society project.
Inspired by Edmund Spenser's neglected epic The Faerie Queene, Redcrosse got considerable national press last year, in The Guardian, on radio and television, and even in The Daily Star, when it was performed in Windsor Castle and Manchester Cathedral. Its RSC production in the modernist masterpiece of Coventry Cathedral, featuring the original music of Grammy-winning Tim Garland as performed by Acoustic Triangle and the Royal Holloway Choir, will be its most dramatic and exciting instantiation to date. Don’t miss it. For further details and tickets, please visit the website.
We are delighted to be publishing the accompanying book, Redcrosse: Remaking Religious Poetry for Today's World (edited by Ewan Fernie) in early November. The book explores the creation of this uniquely collaborative work and includes contributions from leading writers – including John Milbank, Salley Vickers and Sarah Apetrei, together with authors of Redcrosse itself – as they reflect on the creation of the liturgy and its central inspiration, Edmund Spenser’s epic Renaissance poem, The Faerie Queene.
Including the full text of Redcrosse, the volume triumphantly shows that a new poetic work really can address some of the most pressing concerns of our time. You can read more about the book here.
Check back on our blog in November when we will be featuring a digital preview of the book, an interview with Ewan Fernie and running a competition to giveaway one copy to a lucky reader.