Find out how our national project to engage new audiences in Shakespeare and theatre continued despite the Covid crisis.
Each year RSC productions visit towns and cities across the UK, sharing our work with over 30,000 people. Yet we know that many within these communities still feel that Shakespeare and theatre don't belong to them. We've partnered with six regional theatres in Blackpool, Bradford, Norwich, Canterbury, Truro and Nottingham for the Shakespeare Nation Project, working to engage those communities that find us hard to reach, helping them experience our work, Shakespeare and the transformative power of theatre.
In light of the pandemic restrictions, we have had to radically reshape the project over the past year, moving more of it online to keep supporting these community groups and our partner theatres through lockdown and beyond.
During this period, two of our partners have been engaging with Signal Fires, a nationwide project inspired by the idea of storytelling around a fire. Our groups in Blackpool and Bradford both produced videos responding to this prompt: in Blackpool, A Muse of Fire celebrated the light and beauty of Blackpool and its illuminations, as well as the Grand Theatre itself; in Bradford, Shakespeare by Candlelight saw members working individually on short Shakespeare pieces performed around a flame.
Norwich Theatre has also had a productive lockdown, with their group of local students and recent migrants to the area creating a Shakespeare soundscape called An Isle Full of Noises (listen below) and a short film built around their own contemporary sonnets. Called To be or not to be, the video sees the group reflecting on going into lockdown after just one workshop together.
We hope to move forward with the project again later in the year, recruiting new community groups and starting a new journey of theatre making.