Olwen and Paul's story

Olwen Haslam and Paul Bywaters

It was much easier to decide to leave a legacy in our will to the RSC than it has been to explain our reasons for doing so. But it's a privilege to have been asked, partly because it has made us reflect on the reasons for our decision and partly because what we are writing might encourage you to think about supporting the RSC in the same way.

There's so much we could say about why we would like the work of the RSC to continue long after we have stopped buying tickets. But there are two central motivations: the first, performance itself and the second, the ground-breaking work the RSC does with schools.

What do we mean by performance? The pleasure an evening at Stratford can bring; standards which are always excellent; coherence of production; opportunities to discuss plays with actors and directors; new work supported by the theatre and the interest in drama from around the world; courage; vision; sheer hard work (for example, in the campaign to raise enough money for the Transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre which has given the company and theatre-goers such a fine home); all this and more, of course!  It's often impossible to sleep after an evening in Stratford-upon-Avon because there's so much going on in our heads.

And then there's the RSC's work in Education. This matters to us because we are both educationalists and grandparents and believe in the power of theatre to transform lives. We've had the chance to see at close quarters the work the company does with schools. We've been deeply moved by the commitment of the RSC to the children and teachers with whom it works.  We've seen the extraordinary performances of children of all ages and backgrounds who've been given the chance to develop an idea and see it translated on one of the most significant stages in the UK. And we've seen how much teachers, parents and the children themselves are affected by the creative energy which has been released.

So it's not difficult to want this work to continue. Isn't this what a legacy means? It's a chance to say thank you, in however small a way, for something which has been important in our lives. It's a belief in the future, an expression of hope.

Please consider leaving a legacy in your will to the RSC. It is not as hard as you might think.

Olwen Haslam and Professor Paul Bywaters

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Teaching Shakespeare