Irish President visits the Royal Shakespeare Company

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On the morning of Friday 11 April, President Michael D Higgins and Mrs Sabina Higgins visited the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of their state visit to the UK.

On arrival they were greeted by Tim Cox, Lord-Lieutenant, who escorted them to the top of the steps of the RSC and presented them to Penny Cox (Lord-Lieutenant's wife); Keith Sach (High Sheriff of Warwickshire); Nadhim Zahawi, MP; Dave Shilton (Chairman of Warwickshire County Council); Chris Mills (Chairman of Stratford District Council); Diane Walden (Mayor) and Nigel Hugill (RSC Chairman).

Nigel Hugill then presented the President and his wife to Lady Sainsbury of Turville (RSC Deputy Chair); Gregory Doran (RSC Artistic Director); Catherine Mallyon (RSC Executive Director) and Erica Whyman (RSC Deputy Artistic Director). The President's wife Mrs Sabina Higgins was given flowers by local schoolchild Martha Wainwright, aged 6 years.

Gregory Doran led the President on a backstage tour of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre visiting the wigs and make-up department to meet Antony Sher, who is currently playing Falstaff in Henry IV Parts I and II.

Following the tour in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre the President, his wife and invited guests and local schoolchildren watched the company of Henry IV rehearsing the Tavern scene from Henry IV Part I. Members of the Company read extracts from Irish writers who have visited Stratford-upon-Avon; Oscar Wilde, Yeats and George Bernard Shaw.

The President made a speech from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage and Gregory Doran presented the President with the Complete Works of Shakespeare signed by the company of Henry IV.

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