We've opened our newly refurbished Swan Theatre with the world stage premiere of Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet.

The opening night for Hamnet took place on Wednesday (12 April). As well as the world stage premiere of the play, based on Maggie O'Farrell's bestselling novel, the evening marked the official reopening of the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. 

The story, set in Stratford-upon-Avon, pulls back a curtain on the imagined family life of the greatest writer in the English language, William Shakespeare, his wife Agnes and their children and is a love letter to passion, birth, grief and the magic of nature. 

Cast in Elizabethan dress standing on wooden stage with an auditorium full of people
The cast of Hamnet on opening night in the Swan Theatre
Photo by Joe Bailey © RSC Browse and license our images

The Swan Theatre closed for the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and this is the first time it has reopened.

A programme of refurbishment began in January 2022. Changes include new infrastructure for lighting, sound and video, repairs to the woodwork and brickwork, new wider seats with armrests in all positions replacing the previous bench seating, improved access including more designated wheelchair spaces and an enhanced hearing loop.

Three women standing on the Swan Theatre stage
Hamnet Director Erica Whyman, Writer Maggie O'Farrell and Adaptor Lolita Chakrabarti
Photo by Joe Bailey © RSC Browse and license our images

Hamnet in the Swan Theatre is now sold out, but tickets are still available for its run in the Garrick Theatre, London from 30 September 2023 to 6 January 2024.

And if you missed out on Hamnet,  there are many more opportunities to visit the Swan Theatre this year, including two world premieres:

  • The Empress - new production of Tanika Gupta's play, drawing on British Asian history in the reign of Queen Victoria premiered in the Swan Theatre in 2013
  • Falkland Sound - world premiere by Brad Birch telling the story of a rural community after the invasion of the Falkland Islands
  • The Merchant of Venice 1936 - gripping new production from Watford Palace Theatre with Tracy-Ann Oberman as Shylock
  • Cowbois - part gun-slinging Western, part love-story for our times; a playful and exuberant celebration of queer love, freedom and self-expression by Charlie Josephine
Published 14 April 2023
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