Open Stages National Showcase

31 May 2012

RSC Open Stages announces first eight amateur companies to perform in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of World Shakespeare Festival in National Showcase

Includes a Belfast Julius Caesar, Royal Navy Much Ado About Nothing and a musical version of Henry VIII

Friday 13 July - Sunday 15 July 2012
Saturday 21 - Sunday 22 July 2012

The Royal Shakespeare Company today announced the first eight amateur productions of Shakespeare and Shakespeare-inspired plays from the Open Stages regional partner theatres, to be performed over two weekends in Stratford-upon-Avon in July as part of the World Shakespeare Festival.

The companies were selected from 263 groups participating in the RSC's Open Stages project, which celebrates amateur theatre across the UK.

Productions from the remaining regional partner theatres, Sherman Cymru Cardiff and The Sage Gateshead, will be announced soon, with the Hall for Cornwall region production being announced in the first week of July.

Baba Shakespeare
Partner theatre: Questors Theatre London. The Tower Theatre Company performs a new play, Baba Shakespeare, inspired by the real-life experiences of the actress Felicity Kendal's family. The play follows a troupe of travelling British players in 1960s India as they journey from desert palace to hill station, performing Shakespeare amid declining audiences and changing circumstances. The Tower Theatre Company is a long running community theatre group based in London.

Julius Caesar
Partner theatre: Lyric Theatre Belfast. A production of Julius Caesar set on the Shankill Road in Belfast in the early 2000s during a loyalist feud. Performed by The Rainbow Factory, an inner-city theatre group made up of young amateur performers, this production uses Shakespeare's tragedy to explore some of the themes of our recent past including the relationships between those in power and the role of violence in society.
MacBeth in Scots

Partner theatre National Theatre of Scotland. Edinburgh Theatre Arts Company performs Shakespeare's darkest tale for the first time in old Scots. Translated by the late Robin Lorimer and acclaimed by The Scotsman and the Edinburgh Evening News - 'Scots tongue adds pride and passion' and 'both accomplished and accessible'. The language fills this well known text with new passion and dark energy.

Pocket Dream
Partner Theatre: Contact, Manchester. Riverside Drama Company performs a new production of The Pocket Dream by Elly Brewer and Sandi Toksvig, inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream. With actors in dispute with the theatre management and refusing to leave The Cricketers pub, a cast is cobbled together resulting in an array of comic costumes, romantic confusion and fun.

Henry VIII the Musical
Partner theatre: New Wolsey Ipswich. Walden Musical Theatre Company performs a new musical, specially written for Open Stages, about the life and times of one of England's most famous kings and the subject of one of Shakespeare's least known plays. Performed by a 35 strong cast of young amateur performers from Saffron Walden.

The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)
As one of the Open Stages partners for the Midlands region, the RSC's local production comes from Tread the Boards Theatre Company. Written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield, this will be an irreverent inventive, riotous romp through Shakespeare's work. The company of three actors attempt the seemingly impossible - to perform all Shakespeare's plays in one evening.

Much Ado About Nothing
Partner theatre: Nuffield Theatre Southampton. This production is performed by the Royal Navy Theatre Association, made up of serving Royal Navy personnel and their friends and relatives. Their Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Lieutentant Commander Philippa Sargent, is a witty comedy about two sets of lovers drawn from a troop of Royal Marines returning from Afghanistan. This production will be performed in Portsmouth's naval dock-yards, in front of HMS Victory, before joining the Open Stages National Showcase in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The Witches of Macbeth
RSC Open Stages in partnership with the Drama Association of Wales have held a Shakespeare themed, regional competition as part of the Welsh Regional One Act Theatre Festival. The Witches of Macbeth from Phoenix Theatre Company were the winners, thus securing themselves an invite to perform at the National Showcase. A similar competition run in partnership with the All England Theatre Festival will also produce a winner to join the Showcase, which will be announced in June.

RSC Open Stages producer Ian Wainwright said of these National Showcases: 'We're delighted with the selection of exciting amateur companies and productions we have programmed from our Open Stages regional partner theatres. Both weekends will showcase fantastically diverse, original productions, giving audiences an idea of the variety of amateur groups in the UK and the breadth of their work. Above all, these events are a great celebration of the talent, commitment and passion of amateur theatre-makers across the country.'

Tickets go on sale Friday 1 June 2012 and for specific performance times, venues and to book, please call the RSC Box Office on 0844 800 1110 or visit

As well as these National Showcases, Open Stages will be producing a new production of Pericles as part of the World Shakespeare Festival. This will be a new and exciting collaboration between amateur theatre-makers and the RSC's professional creative and production teams. A cast of amateur performers will work with RSC directors, designers, stage managers and technicians to create a brand new production of Shakespeare's tragic romance.

For more information about Open Stages, please visit  and for a map of the geographical spread of productions that have taken place around the country, please go to

You can also view a trailer for Open Stages here:

For media enquiries, please contact or


Notes to Editors

  • Open Stages is a ground-breaking initiative by the RSC, bringing amateur and professional actors closer together. The project sees amateur theatre companies from across the UK performing their own Shakespeare-themed productions under the banner of RSC Open Stages, with help and guidance from 10 partner theatres, including the RSC, and from amateur theatre associations. There are over 260 amateur productions taking place / scheduled to take place across the UK as part of Open Stages, and around 7,200 individual participants, with the oldest participant at 90 years old and the youngest being six.
  • The World Shakespeare Festival (WSF) is a celebration of Shakespeare as the world's playwright, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations, and with Globe to Globe, a major international programme produced by Shakespeare's Globe. It runs from 23 April to November 2012 and forms part of London 2012 Festival, which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, bringing leading artists from all over the world together in a UK-wide festival in the summer of 2012. The World Shakespeare Festival is supported by BP, as Founding Presenting Partner, and by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor and Arts Council England.

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