Royal Shakespeare Theatre reopens this autumn

01.09.2010

Reopening the doors to the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres from 24 November 2010

  • 24 November 2010 - Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres reopen with preview events and activities
  • February 2011 - First plays on new Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage are King Lear and Romeo and Juliet performed by current long ensemble
  • April 2011 - London – RSC Ensemble premieres three new plays at Hampstead Theatre
  • April 2011 – Stratford-upon-Avon – Formal reopening of Royal Shakespeare Theatre with 50th Birthday Season of Shakespeare, classics and new plays

The Royal Shakespeare Company today announces its plans to reopen the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres on time and on budget in November 2010, following a four year redevelopment as part of the £112.8 million Transformation project designed to bring actors and audiences closer together.

The Company will reopen its doors to the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres from 24 November 2010, inviting people in to rediscover and explore the building, which will have a brand new 1,000 seat thrust stage auditorium, 36 metre high Tower, new exhibition spaces, new places to eat and drink, including Rooftop Restaurant and Riverside Café and terrace, restored 1930s features and improved public areas including the new Weston Square. Visitors will be able to take part in a series of preview events and activities which will help test the spaces, while throughout the opening period Matilda, A Musical plays at The Courtyard Theatre.

In February 2011, the current RSC ensemble will perform the first productions on the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage when they return from London's Roundhouse to revive King Lear and Romeo and Juliet, directed by RSC Associate Directors, David Farr and Rupert Goold. The company will also perform Artistic Director Michael Boyd's production of Antony and Cleopatra in the Swan Theatre and both Young People's Shakespeare productions of Hamlet and The Comedy of Errors, before going back to London to premiere three new plays at Hampstead Theatre which run from April to June 2011.

The RSC will celebrate its 50th birthday and formally reopen the theatres with new companies and a new season from April 2011. Further details will be announced in November 2010.


RST Opening Activities:

The reopening will unfold over a four month period, and visitors will be able to enjoy the building from 9am to 7pm most days. The new Rooftop Restaurant with beautiful views of the River Avon, Stratford and the Warwickshire countryside will also be open during the evening, offering in-house catering for the first time.

People can book to go on theatre tours or take the lift to the viewing platform at the top of the new Tower from where you can see key Shakespeare landmarks: where he was born, where he went to school, where he lived and where he is buried. On the way down, visitors can view contemporary art exhibitions housed in the Tower walls. George Chakravarthi is the first artist to be commissioned and his installation Neither Here Nor There explores the tragedies in Shakespeare's text through hand-painted photographs, layered with drawing, text and multiple images.

The opening programme of events is directed and devised by RSC Chief Associate Director, Gregory Doran, and Director of Events and Exhibitions, Geraldine Collinge, and includes tours, exhibitions and activities designed to encourage people to explore the transformed building and participate in our work. Full details are listed in the appendices and in the reopening leaflet. They include:

Ghosts in the Walls – an auditory and sensory tour which evokes people's memories of the old theatre and celebrates this new chapter in the Company's life.

My RSC Gallery – tiny boxes of art hidden around the building waiting to be discovered when the theatres reopen. These are the culmination of a nationwide public competition, created by artist Luke Jerram, who asked people to submit miniature artworks inspired by Shakespeare, the RSC and the theatre.

Transformations – an exhibition which explores how the architects, Bennetts Associates, theatre designers, Charcoalblue, and construction managers, Mace, approached some of the major aspects of the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres, incorporating the best of the existing 1932 Elisabeth Scott Art Deco building with bold new architectural features.

'Why?' by Squidsoup – a digital sculpture in the new exhibition space, the PACCAR Room, which creates a web of words from the comments, questions and thoughts of RSC audiences on the relevance of Shakespeare today, sent by text message to a dedicated number.

Love is my Sin – distinguished RSC alumnus Peter Brook directs his own adaptations of Shakespeare's sonnets, performed by Natasha Parry and Michael Pennington, alongside music by Frank Krawcyk in the Swan Theatre.

Local amateur groups will be trying out the RSC stages with specially created pieces. The Bear Pit, Stratford's amateur arts umbrella organisation hosts Open House, a special variety evening on 12 December, curated by RSC Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran, which celebrates local creativity through songs, plays and dance. Over 200 singers from Stratford-upon-Avon and Huddersfield Choral Societies perform Handel's Messiah on 8 January to mark their joint 175th anniversaries, and Stratford Operatic Society presents Return to the Forbidden Planet on 9 January.

Young people will play a key role in the reopening period. School children from Stratford and some of the RSC's local Learning and Performance Network schools will work with the Company during the opening week to help other children to navigate round the building.

Over 300 young writers from the Black Country, inspired by the ghosts and spirits in Shakespeare, are collaborating with the RSC's artistic team to create ten new plays. Writing on Your Feet will be directed by RSC directors and performed on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage on 7 and 9 December by young actors from three acting colleges. Leading hip-hop artists and UK lyricists, including the cutting-edge wordsmith Polarbear are also working with RSC Voice Director, Cicely Berry, and the RSC's education team on Sound and Fury a site-specific performance around the building, culminating on the Swan Theatre stage on 8 December.

Throughout the winter, a series of one-off events, family activities, workshops for teachers and schools groups, alternative comedy, music, poetry, and one-man Shakespeare shows, including artists as diverse as Roger Rees, Barrie Rutter, Camille O'Sullivan and our poet in residence, Malika Booker, will start to bring the building back to life ready for the first full productions on the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatre stages in February 2011.


Full Productions in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre:

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre auditorium, with its new thrust stage, wrapping the audience around three sides, will open with its first full Shakespeare productions in February 2011, performing familiar productions to help fully test the auditorium and backstage facilities. The current long ensemble of actors revives RSC Associate Director, David Farr's King Lear, and RSC Associate Director, Rupert Goold's Romeo and Juliet, along with the Young People's Shakespeare The Comedy of Errors, produced in association with Told by an Idiot and directed by Paul Hunter.


Full productions in The Swan Theatre:

The ensemble will also reopen the Swan Theatre with a revival of the acclaimed Young People's Shakespeare version of Hamlet directed by Tarell Alvin McCraney and will re-visit Michael Boyd's production of Antony and Cleopatra on a bare stage in a bold and simple remix, which throws fresh light on this great, complex tragedy.

They will be joined by a new production of The Tempest, a puppet version created by Little Angel Theatre, directed by their Artistic Director, Peter Glanville, and performance workshops of Shakespeare's poem The Rape of Lucrece, an RSC Studio production, directed by Elizabeth Freestone and including sung text by Camille O'Sullivan and music by Feargal Murray.

***

Michael Boyd said: “Thousands of people have played their part in transforming the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and thousands more will join us for our opening programme, see the new spaces for themselves, and share the thrill of reopening with the Royal Shakespeare Company Ensemble.

“The experience of other major capital arts projects has led us to choose known and loved repertoire to open a new and untried theatre, but there are experiments too and new commissions in this programme, and a range of work from Peter Brook and Roger Rees to Tim Minchin and Camille O'Sullivan that reflects our invitation to new audiences as well as our welcome back to old friends.

“Our new home isn't just about brilliant brick work, inviting public spaces, and nearly trebling the number of ladies loos, though it has those. It's a miraculous marriage of the epic and the intimate, a shared space which celebrates the three dimensions that Hollywood aspires to and live performance has for free, and which enables the direct engagement between actor and audience demanded by Shakespeare's plays.”

RSC Executive Director Vikki Heywood said: “We are very proud to have delivered this new playhouse for Shakespeare on time and on budget and enormously grateful to everyone who has supported us, from the Arts Council and Advantage West Midlands to the more than 13,000 people from 55 countries who've contributed to our fundraising campaign.

“We hold our AGM on 10th September and in this year's Annual Report we take the opportunity to look back over a decade as we reach completion of the Transformation journey. During the last ten years, we have given over 11,609 performances, selling 6.3 million tickets.

“It is clear that the arts face a challenging time over the coming years, along with other publicly funded activities, but, like so many arts organisations, we work hard at a mixed economy, using public investment to leverage other sources of funding and to maintain affordable ticket prices. We can be sure our reopened theatres will play an important part in revitalising the local economy.

“Our new home in Stratford-upon-Avon stands at the gateway to one of the country's most thriving regions and we want to be an integral part of the life of Stratford and the West Midlands as well as a destination for visitors from all parts of the UK and the world. Our seven-day a week operation offers something for everyone, whether it's a cup of coffee and a trip up the Tower or a full Shakespeare production in our new auditorium, which promises to bring people much closer to the action than ever before. I look forward to welcoming people through our doors during our preview period.”


50th Birthday Season – April 2011

The RSC will celebrate its 50th birthday with a new ensemble of actors performing a new season of work from April 2011. Details of 'RSC at 50' will be announced in November.


RSC returns to Hampstead – April 2011

Following the opening of the RST, the ensemble leaves Stratford-upon-Avon for the last time to premiere new work at Hampstead Theatre in April 2011, before taking the repertoire to New York in July 2011, where they will be presented by Lincoln Center Festival and Park Avenue Armory, in association with The Ohio State University.

At Hampstead, they will perform three previously announced new productions, Little Eagles, written by Rona Munro and directed by RSC Associate Director, Roxana Silbert, Silence, a devised piece by Filter and David Farr and directed by RSC Associate, David Farr, and American Trade by Tarell Alvin McCraney, directed by Jamie Lloyd.

These three RSC commissioned plays will be presented as part of A Season of World Premieres at Hampstead Theatre next spring, alongside three new Hampstead Theatre productions downstairs in the Michael Frayn Space. RSC Associate Director, Roxana Silbert, as season director for the RSC productions, said: “It's a privilege to be invited to return to Hampstead Theatre and be part of its future under the new Directorship of Edward Hall, and it's tremendously exciting to welcome the long ensemble to Hampstead, fresh from opening the newly transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. They bring their intimate experience of Shakespeare into dialogue with living playwrights to premiere three new plays which have been made for them and with them." Edward Hall, Hampstead Theatre's Artistic Director, said: “I am delighted to be creating A Season of World Premieres with the RSC and to be working so closely with Roxana Silbert on what will be a very exciting programme of new work at Hampstead Theatre. Six pieces of major new work over a ten week period…cause for celebration indeed.”

Further details on the Hampstead Season to be announced later in the autumn.

The RSC's Annual Report for 2009/10 will be presented at the Annual General Meeting, to be held at The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, on 10 September 2010 at 4.00pm.


Contacts:

For further information on the Transformation, please contact:
emailto:liz.thompson@rsc.org.uk or 01789 412667 or jane.ellis@rsc.org.uk or 01789 412668

For further information about the RSC at Hampstead, please contact: philippa.harland@rsc.org.uk or 020 7845 0512

Follow the RSC Press Office at Twitter.com/RSCPress


Images:

Images from all current RSC productions can be downloaded free of charge by registering on EPO (Electronic Press Office) www.epo-online.com


Reopening Media Day:

Media will be invited to attend a Media Day in November 2010 to see the RST building before public preview events and activities begin. Details of the 50th Birthday Season will also be announced then. For further information or to register interest in the Media Day, please contact Dean Asker at dean.asker@rsc.org.uk


Acknowledgements:

  • The RSC is thrilled to be reopening our theatres in our 7th year of a partnership with Accenture, our Global High Performance Business Partner. Through a combination of financial support and consultancy services, Accenture helps the RSC achieve higher performance as a business.
  • The RSC's Literary Department is generously supported by the Drue Heinz Trust.
  • The RSC Ensemble is generously supported by the Kovner Foundation and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation.
  • The £112.8 million transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre has been generously supported by the Arts Council England, Advantage West Midlands and many private individuals and foundations.
  • The Weston Square is named in recognition of the generous support of The Garfield Weston Foundation.
  • The PACCAR Room is named in recognition of the generous support of The PACCAR Foundation.
  • The RSC thanks Mace for their support of Ghosts in the Walls. Rob Ewen, Group Director at Mace, said: “After working with the Royal Shakespeare Company for more than three years on the redevelopment of the theatres, we are very excited to continue our relationship in this way. At the heart of the transformation project is creating a brand new thrust stage auditorium and fantastic new public areas, whilst preserving and improving key elements of the original Art Deco 1932 theatre. Ghosts in the Walls will give everyone the chance to find out more about the RSC - past, present and future. We're delighted that we too have been able to play our part in the history of the RSC.”
  • Little Eagles is a new RSC Commission developed in association with Davidson College, North Carolina.


Booking information:

0844 800 1110 or www.rsc.org.uk

15 September - RSC Full Members online
17 September - RSC Full Members by phone and in person
29 September - RSC Associate Members online
1 October – RSC Associate Members by phone and in person
11 October – Public Booking opens


The journey of the RSC Acting Ensemble 2009 – 2011:

January 2009 - London (Clapham) – formation of the ensemble and start of rehearsals.

April 2009 - Stratford-upon-Avon – performed a repertoire of three Shakespeare productions, The Winter's Tale, As You Like It, Julius Caesar and two new Russian and Ukrainian plays, The Drunks and The Grain Store, as part of 'Revolutions', a three week celebration of theatre from Russia and the former Soviet Union.

October 2009 - Newcastle upon Tyne - performed a four play repertoire at the Theatre Royal and premiered Ben Power's new play A Tender Thing and a revival of Roy Williams' Days of Significance at Northern Stage alongside collaborations with Live Theatre.

February 2010 - Stratford-upon-Avon – added to the repertoire with the Young People's Shakespeare productions, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra and Morte d'Arthur, continued performing the full repertoire throughout summer 2010. Members of the ensemble also performed in Oxygen UK/Russia, by Ivan Vyrypaev, directed by RSC Associate Director, Deborah Shaw, as part of LIFT 2010 in London.

October 2010 – Newcastle upon Tyne – performing a four play repertoire at the Theatre Royal, a full events programme at Northern Stage and a continuation of collaboration with Live.

November 2010 - London (Roundhouse) – transferring and reprising all eight Shakespeare productions in the 'Roundyard' space for an eight week season from 30 November 2010 to 5 February 2011.

February 2011 - Stratford-upon-Avon – the first company to perform on the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre and reopened Swan Theatre stages with revivals of five Shakespeare productions from 23 February to 2 April 2011.

April 2011 - London (Hampstead Theatre) – performing three new RSC commissions in a Season of World Premieres – Little Eagles, Silence and American Trade.

July 2011 - New York, USA (presented by Lincoln Center Festival and Park Avenue Armory, in association with The Ohio State University) – transferring five Shakespeare productions for a six week repertoire at the Armory from 6 July to 14 August 2011.


Opening productions at a glance:


ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE

King Lear
By William Shakespeare
Directed by RSC Associate Director, David Farr
Previews from 24 February 2011

Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare
Directed by RSC Associate Director, Rupert Goold
Previews from 3 March 2011

DOUBLE PRESS DAY Thursday 10 March 2011: King Lear 1.00pm Romeo and Juliet 7pm

The Comedy of Errors (RSC Young People's Shakespeare production)
By William Shakespeare (in association with Told by an Idiot)
Edited by Gary Owen
Directed by Paul Hunter
Two performances on Saturday 26 March, 10.30am and Saturday 2 April, 10.30am
(There is no official press performance)


SWAN THEATRE

Hamlet (RSC Young People's Shakespeare production)
By William Shakespeare
Co edited by Tarell Alvin McCraney and Bijan Sheibani
Directed by Tarell Alvin McCraney, RSC/Warwick International Playwright in Residence
Ten performances on 24, 25, 26 February, 15, 16, 17 21, 24, 25 March 2011
(There is no official press performance)

Antony and Cleopatra
By William Shakespeare
Directed by RSC Artistic Director, Michael Boyd
Previews from 3 March 2011
(There is no official press performance)

The Tempest (in association with Little Angel Theatre)
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Peter Glanville
Previews from 11 March 2011
Press performance: Tuesday 15 March, 1.30pm (note start time)


HAMPSTEAD THEATRE

Little Eagles
By Rona Munro
A new RSC Commission
Directed by Roxana Silbert, RSC Associate Director
Previews from 16 April 2011
Press Night: Thursday 21 April, 7pm

Silence
By David Farr and Filter
RSC in association with Filter
Created by Filter and David Farr
Directed by David Farr, RSC Associate Director
Previews from 12 May 2011
Press Night: Wednesday 18 May, 7pm

American Trade
By Tarell Alvin McCraney
A new RSC Commission
Directed by Jamie Lloyd
Previews from 2 June 2011
Press Night: Wednesday 8 June, 7pm

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