RST opens its doors 24 November
- 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.”