Battle plans are being drawn up as the Royal Shakespeare Company prepares for war.
The Nations At War season begins next month and is part of the World Shakespeare Festival.
Rehearsals are now under way for the new productions of King John, Richard III and A Soldier In Every Son – The Rise Of The Aztecs.
The plays will run in repertoire at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon until September 15 and the season is being led by RSC Associate Director Roxana Silbert.
Roxana, who was recently appointed Birmingham Rep’s new artistic director, says: “It’s a season which explores ambition, power, leadership and family loyalties and betrayals – themes which unite all three plays.
“They all have a dynamic political and personal landscape with a really strong emotional centre. At the heart of Richard III is his relationship with his family. A Soldier In Every Son is about the beginning of the Mexican Empire, and about family and intermarriage.”
RSC favourite Jonjo O’Neill returns to play the power-hungry Richard III and Roxana says: “I was looking for a young Richard. Jonjo is exactly the same age as the historical Richard when he died.
“Jonjo has showmanship. Richard’s character has a great sense of playfulness, but there is also a profound, damaged darkness in him.
"I believe Jonjo is a brilliant actor who can combine that sense of child-like playfulness with a very dark core, someone able to play status but who also feels comfortable engaging openly with the audience.”
The cast also includes Pippa Nixon as Lady Anne, with Paola Dionisotti and Siobhan Redmond returning to play Margaret and Elizabeth.
Swedish-born Maria Aberg directs her first Shakespeare play with a fresh and contemporary version of King John that includes a gender change for two of the characters – the Bastard and Pandulph. They will be played by women.
Maria says: “There is something quite glorious about seeing a woman play the sort of heroic warrior that you don’t otherwise see played by women in Shakespeare.
"It was partly because it served the story well and partly it was my own curiosity to see a woman play that kind of part.” Alex Waldmann makes his RSC debut as King John.
Roxana also directs a specially commissioned new play by Mexican writer Luis Mario Moncada, which includes six actors from the Compañía Nacional de Teatro de México (National Theatre of Mexico).