Shakespeare Nation

We’re on a mission to create a nation of Shakespeare and theatre lovers around the country.

Working hand-in-hand with our partner theatres and Associate Schools, we want anybody aged 3 - 103 to have the opportunity to feel the transformative power of theatre and Shakespeare. 

We are creating opportunities for people to experience the thrill of Shakespeare in their own communities and build a life-long relationship with theatre through our nationwide toursregular cinema screenings, activity with our 246 strong Associate Schools network, our free schools broadcasts, our 518 young Shakespeare Ambassadors, our Next Generation theatre skills training for young people, and projects with our 11 long-term partner theatres.

Shakespeare belongs to everyone. We know that experiencing his plays in whatever way – sitting in the audience, working with them in a classroom or rehearsal room, by performing them in a village hall, or on the stage of any theatre - and coming to believe that the stories told are about you and your life, they can have a powerful impact. 


Thanks to a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Shakespeare Nation is our newest project to help us continue our mission. This adult participation project follows on from our nationwide 2019 tour of Romeo & Juliet and takes place over four years. 

We are working with six of our partner theatres to reach out to communities around the country who would not normally think theatre and Shakespeare are for them. Our ambition is to reach more than 3,000 adults via co-productions, workshops with RSC actors and directors, and subsidised tickets and theatre coach trips to generate new audiences and theatre lovers. We also hope that those involved in Shakespeare Nation will become ambassadors in their communities for Shakespeare and for theatre.

Our Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman said: "Not everyone thinks Shakespeare’s plays are going to be for them, but our experience has been that if you can excite someone about Shakespeare and get them speaking his words and making sense of his ideas they often feel that suddenly they can do anything.

"The plays express feelings we all have, they tell stories about the universal experiences of life – love, death, ambition, excitement, disagreement, hope, so they can make us feel connected to one another.  And his wonderful words are part of all of our history, they help us explain ourselves, maybe especially at times of change."


We love working with our partner theatres on many different projects, and thank them for making us so welcome whenever we visit. They include:

  • The Grand Theatre, Blackpool
  • The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
  • The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury 
  • Hall for Cornwall, Cornwall
  • Hull Truck, Hull
  • Intermission Theatre, London
  • Newcastle Theatre Royal 
  • Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
  • Norwich Theatre
  • Northern Stage, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • New Vic Theatre, Stoke on Trent

Shakespeare Nation Community Co-Productions

We are working with our partner theatres to make six co-productions, bringing together community groups from each area to create a performance that responds to a specific Shakespeare play. These groups involve people who would rarely meet or set foot in a theatre and have little or no experience of Shakespeare, with the hope of building a lasting relationship between the community and its theatre.

In 2019, we worked with our partner theatres in Blackpool, Norwich and Nottingham as they created their own versions of Romeo and Juliet for performance. The community groups involved — including a Young Citizens radio project in Norwich, The People's Choir in Nottingham, and an LGBTQ Church in Blackpool — saw our touring production and took part in workshops before beginning work on their own productions with directors, a designer and actors from the RSC and their local theatre.

Shakespeare Nation Audience Development

We want to grow and broaden our audience through special events that will make visitors more confident about understanding, speaking, watching and enjoying Shakespeare. This might be through hosted live screenings, workshops with RSC actors and creatives, special previews, or subsidised tickets and coach trips. We want this new audience to feel that Shakespeare is open to them and that their local theatre is somewhere they belong and where they can feel comfortable.

Shakespeare Nation Champions

We hope that many of the participants in our events will become ambassadors for theatre, encouraging others in their communities to go to see regional shows and to engage with Shakespeare. We are particularly looking at key influencers and leaders who will get extra behind-the-scenes access and advance knowledge of upcoming shows to help build local enthusiasm for theatre.