New Transformation book published

18 March 2011

As the first Shakespeare productions are performed on the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) stage in Stratford-upon-Avon, the full story behind the Royal Shakespeare Company's project to rebuild its Stratford-upon-Avon home is brought to life in 'Transformation' – a unique book commissioned by the RSC.

Written by former Guardian journalist, David Ward, the 144 page, full-colour book charts the journey of the world famous theatre's reconstruction, including the building of the much-loved temporary Courtyard Theatre. Ward's exclusive access to all those involved in the project, including interviews with Michael Boyd (RSC Artistic Director) and Vikki Heywood (RSC Executive Director), the architects, project team, staff and actors, makes this a unique account of one of the last major Capital projects in the UK.

Revealing how the Company's plans developed, from the controversial proposal to demolish the building through to the reopening of the new theatre in November 2010, the book also describes how the original plans floundered, how new ideas and solutions developed, how The Courtyard Theatre was conceived and built in record time as a temporary home for the Company, and finally the reaction to the RSC's new home when it opened its doors to the public.

Vikki Heywood said,
'The story of the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre has been a remarkable journey and one that the Company will never forget. Thousands of people have been involved, from those who worked directly on the project, to the many who supported our vision through the fundraising campaign. This book is our opportunity to share the highs and the lows - thanks to David, who has captured everyone's involvement and the unfolding drama so well.'

Commenting on the writing of the book, David Ward said,
'The Transformation project threw up many good stories, some of them so dramatic they could have transferred to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre's new thrust stage. I hope the book will appeal to everyone who comes to Stratford to enjoy productions in the new theatre.'

Published by the RSC, the book is available to buy for £20 from the RSC shop or online at or through RSC Mail Order on +44 (0)1789 748114.


Further information

For more information contact Jane Ellis, RSC Communications Manager, 07966 295 032 or


Anna McNeil, Communications Officer at or 01789 272 438

Notes to Editors

The opening chapter is available to view at or for a review copy contact Jane Ellis or Anna McNeil in the Press Office.

About the Transformation

For full information about the Project visit

The 1932 Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres closed in 2007, with performances continuing in the temporary Courtyard Theatre. The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres opened there doors to the public on Wednesday 24 November 2010 with 18,000 people visiting in the first week. The first full Shakespeare productions, King Lear and Romeo and Juliet, were staged in February 2011 and the first new productions, designed for the RST stage open in April with Michael Boyd's production of Macbeth and the start of the 50th Birthday Season.

The ambition

  • Transform Elisabeth Scott's 1932 RST, creating the best environment in which to perform and enjoy Shakespeare.
  • Create a new 1000+ seat thrust-stage auditorium that more closely mirrors the way in which Shakespeare's plays were intended to be performed, bringing the actors and audiences closer together.
  • Retain key heritage elements of the building while adding bold new architectural designs.
  • Create a building that is welcoming and improve the theatres' physical relationship with Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • Provide public spaces to attract a broad range of audiences and visitors, whether coming to see a show, walking along the riverside, enjoying a meal or visiting Stratford-upon-Avon for the first time.
  • Improve physical access to and within the building.

Taster Facts
The distance from the stage to the furthest seat has almost halved, falling from 27m to 15m.

New 7m deep stage basement, allowing actors, scenery and props to rise from beneath the stage during a production, and 15m flying zone created over the stage.

Four theatre bars, a Riverside Cafe and Terrace, and a Rooftop Restaurant with 150 covers and exceptional views over the Bancroft Gardens and River Avon.

15 new dressing rooms all with balconies overlooking the River Avon.

24 different types of seat, with five width variants, ranging from 450mm to 555mm.

Around a million 'man hours' expended on the project.

Activity on site peaked in April 2010, with around 300 people working on site each day.

36 metre Tower with viewing platform with a lift and 174 steps

47 ladies' toilets front-of-house, plus 7 gents' toilets, 24 urinals and 5 accessible toilets, almost double the number in the 1932 building.

Approximately 5,000 of the RST's original bricks reclaimed for RST restoration work.

168,000 new bricks and 14,000 'special bricks' were hand-thrown in the Forest of Dean to complement the original brickwork.

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