See the results of a year-long programme of refurbishment works at our Swan Theatre.

Opened in 1986, the Swan Theatre occupies the same Stratford-upon-Avon site as the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. We regularly stage the work of Shakespeare's contemporaries in the Swan Theatre, as well as new work by today's writers. 

The Swan closed during the pandemic and has since been undergoing a year-long programme of refurbishment works. Changes include new infrastructure for lighting, sound and video and repairs to the woodwork and brickwork. The previous bench seating has been changed to new, wider individual seats with armrests in all positions to improve audience comfort. Audiences were given the opportunity to "Name a Seat" in the Swan, and by doing so play a vital role in these important renovations.

Other improvements include:

  • More wheelchair spaces and a new induction loop for those with hearing impairments, continuing our commitment to making our work accessible to as many people as possible.
  • Work to reduce our environmental impact and improve the sustainability of the Swan Theatre by including new technical systems that are futureproof and energy efficient.
  • Structural work to enable the Ashcroft rehearsal room situated above the theatre to be used again.

The Swan Theatre will reopen in April 2023 with Hamnet.

Thank you to everyone who has named a seat in the Swan Theatre, you have played a vital role in its future, guaranteeing life-changing theatre for generations to come.

Find out how to Name a Seat

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The Swan Theatre shares its front of house space with the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, with audiences enjoying the same foyer, Box Office, bars and restaurant.


Name a Seat 

If you would like to find out more or have any questions please email or call 01789 403470. 

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The History of the Swan Theatre

The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre was the brainchild of a local brewer, Charles Edward Flower. He donated a two-acre site by the River Avon and in 1875 launched an international campaign to build a theatre in the town of Shakespeare’s birth.

The theatre, a Victorian-Gothic building seating just over 700 people, opened in 1879 with a performance of Much Ado About Nothing. Plays were performed during the weeks of the festival designed to celebrate Shakespeare, which took place each spring. For the rest of the year, the building provided a venue for local events, in addition to a museum and library to study Shakespeare. The Memorial Theatre was awarded a Royal Charter in 1925 to recognise almost 50 years of excellence.

In 1926, the theatre burned down, with only the library and art gallery being saved. After a period in ruins, the burnt-out shell of the old theatre was then converted into a conference centre with a flat roof. It was only in 1986 that the Swan Theatre, designed by architect Michael Reardon, opened within the original red-brick gothic façade, with a performance of Two Noble Kinsmen.

Since opening in 1986, the Swan Theatre has played host to a programme encompassing the work of Shakespeare's contemporaries, as well as plays by later writers, such as Restoration playwrights, and new work by today's writers.

The Swan Theatre temporarily closed again in 2007 as part of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Transformation project, reopening on 24 February 2011. The recently complete refurbishment began in 2022 after a period of closure during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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