A timeline of key dates from our history - from building the first theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon to today.
The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opened on our site next to the River Avon in 1879, after local brewer, Charles Flower donated the land and launched a campaign to build a theatre in the town of Shakespeare's birth.
After the original theatre was destroyed by fire, the New Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opened its doors on an adjacent site in 1932, designed by Elisabeth Scott.
The Royal Shakespeare Company was founded in 1961 by Peter Hall, based in Stratford-upon-Avon and the theatre was renamed the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
2023 The Swan Theatre reopens following the pandemic and a refurbishment, with Hamnet
2022 The world premiere of My Neighbour Totoro at the Babican
2021 We reopen after our temporary closure for the pandemic and build the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre in the Swan Gardens.
2020 The pandemic closes our theatres so we keep Shakespeare’s work alive online. Our Homework Help sees 100,000+ young people receive advice from RSC actors and alumni.
2019 The world premiere of new musical The Boy in the Dress.
2018 Matilda The Musical's UK and Ireland tour begins.
2017 A season of Rome plays staged in Stratford and the Barbican, and we perform the first of our translated Chinese classics, Snow in Midsummer.
2016 Four hundred years after Shakespeare died, we open a new The Other Place with a studio theatre, rehearsal rooms and Costume Store, and put the first live digital avatar on stage with The Tempest.
2015 Matilda The Musical came to Australia, opening at the Lyric Theatre, Sydney in August.
2014 We marked the 100th anniversary of the First World War, commissioning a new play The Christmas Truce, and celebrated major roles for women in our Roaring Girls season.
2013 We begin our Live from Stratford-upon-Avon broadcasts to cinemas and schools across the world starting with Richard II on 13 November.
2012 Gregory Doran becomes Artistic Director and Catherine Mallyon becomes Executive Director. Gregory pledges to stage all 36 plays in the First Folio, making every play an event.
2012 World Shakespeare Festival - part of the London Olympics. We invited UK and international artists and producers to explore Shakespeare as the world's playwright, reaching more than 1.8 million people with 69 productions, 263 amateur shows, 28 digital commissions and films, and much more.
2011 Residency at Park Avenue Armory for Lincoln Center Festival - five Shakespeare productions were performed by a single RSC company of actors in a specially constructed thrust-stage auditorium. For the first time theatregoers in the US were able to experience our theatre just as they would have seen it in Stratford-upon-Avon.
2011 We celebrate our 50th Birthday Season
2011 The Queen officially opens the transformed Royal Shakespeare Theatre
2010 Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres reopen for preview events and activities
2008 Michael Boyd's cycle of Shakespeare's eight History plays transfers to the Roundhouse in London
2007-8 The Histories - a project to stage all of Shakespeare's history plays using the same company of 34 actors playing all 264 roles, in the temporary Courtyard Theatre, culminating in the Glorious Moment when audiences could see all eight plays over one long weekend.
2007 Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre are closed for construction work to begin
2006-7 Complete Works Festival - the first time that all 37 plays, the sonnets and the long poems have been performed in one place. We produced 23 productions ourselves, with more than 30 visiting companies, 17 from overseas, including Yukio Ninagawa's Japanese Titus Andronicus, Macbeth in Polish and Twelfth Night in Russian.
2006 The Courtyard Theatre opens as a temporary 1,000-seat theatre
2003 Michael Boyd appointed as Artistic Director
2001 Feasibility Study recommends the demolition of the 1932 RST. We leave the Barbican
1996 We begin working on plans for redeveloping our Stratford site
1991 Purpose-built new The Other Place opens
1991 Adrian Noble becomes Artistic Director
1986 Swan Theatre created from shell of the 1879 theatre
1986 Terry Hands becomes Artistic Director
1982 London operations move to the Barbican, leased from the City of London
1974 The Other Place created from a former store/rehearsal room in Stratford
1968 Trevor Nunn becomes Artistic Director
1963 First Arts Council subsidy
1961 Chartered name of the corporation and the Stratford theatre become the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
1958 Peter Hall becomes Artistic Director. Aldwych Theatre leased in London and Stratford/London operations begin
1948 Anthony Quayle becomes Artistic Director
1932 New Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opens, designed by Elisabeth Scott
1926 Auditorium and stage destroyed by fire. Chairman Sir Archibald Flower raises rebuilding funds, mostly in the USA
1925 Royal Charter granted on 50th anniversary of incorporation
1913 First tour to the USA
1879 Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opens
1875 Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Ltd. Incorporated is created