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  • Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) new family-friendly visitor attraction The Play’s The Thing opens in Stratford-upon-Avon in Autumn 2016
  • Discover the secrets and stories behind the making of the Company’s world famous productions, see some of the RSC’s beautifully crafted costumes and props, learn how magical and gory stage and sound effects are made
  • Part of a major restoration of the 1879 Swan Wing, the oldest area of the RSC’s Stratford-Upon-Avon home

 The RSC will open its first ever permanent exhibition devoted to the making of Shakespeare’s plays in Autumn 2016. The new visitor attraction – The Play’s The Thing – will be in the Swan Wing, at the Company’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon.  The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

 For over 400 years, Shakespeare’s plays have inspired audiences and theatre makers. From the eternal love affair of Romeo and Juliet and Titus Andronicus’s blood, guts and gore, to Macbeth’s witches and Shylock’s pound of flesh, The Play’s The Thing explores the imaginative ways in which Shakespeare’s stories, settings and characters have been interpreted for the stage.

 This immersive exhibition highlights some of the RSC’s most iconic theatre productions and features treasures from the archive including rarely-seen props, exquisite costumes and original set designs.

 Hands-on digital interactives transport visitors both behind the scenes and on stage at the RSC. Visitors will experience what it feels like to stand on stage, try on costumes made in the RSC’s costume workshops and get creative as set designers.

 The family-friendly exhibition also reveals some of the RSC’s more gory theatrical secrets, including how a snapping carrot can replicate the noise of bone breaking, rice crispies and glue are mixed to make scabs and how soup is used on stage to represent vomit.

Many famous faces have performed at the RSC, and some of the highlights of

The Play’s The Thing include costumes worn by David Tennant, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Helen Mirren, Sir Laurence Olivier, Paul Robeson and Vivien Leigh.

 Geraldine Collinge, Director of Events and Exhibitions commented,

‘This is the first time that we have opened up our archive in this way, creating a magical experience for our visitors. Working with our exhibition architects and exhibition designers we have thought long and hard about how best to reveal our secrets to people of all ages using the latest digital technology. 

‘We know from our theatre tours that visitors are fascinated by the process behind the creation of our productions and the skills and techniques applied to create the world that people see on the stage.  The exhibition will let people into that world so that they can discover how our productions have been made over the years and how we create them now.  The public spaces will also include costumes and props and a stunning new artwork by Steven Follen all set within this beautiful Victorian building which has stood by the River Avon for nearly 135 years.’

The Play’s The Thing is the culmination of a major project to restore the oldest part of the RSC's theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon, the 1879 ‘Swan Wing’ significantly improving the buildings public spaces and exterior.

Curated items from the RSC’s Collection will be on show for the first time in the new café bar, and the ‘Rialto Bridge’ that links the public spaces to the theatre auditorium  will be transformed with a newly commissioned illustration telling the story of the RSC in Stratford.

The Swan Wing’s brickwork, lead windows, and roof 'lights' have been restored, alongside the three exterior bas reliefs by Paul Kummer, which depict Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories and Tragedies.  The original stained glass windows that line the Swan Theatre staircase and illustrate the Seven Ages of Man speech from Shakespeare's As You Like It have also been restored.

The RSC has commissioned artist Steven Follen to create a dramatic new artwork to be suspended in Swan Wing’s hallway. Taking the form of a three-dimensional face made out of two thousand metal stars, the three metre tall installation will hang from the ceiling as it greets visitors to the theatre.  

The Swan Wing public spaces open to the public on Shakespeare’s Birthday, 23 April 2016.  


The Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon 

Public Booking opens on Monday 22 February 2016.

Tickets prices for The Play’s The Thing:

Adults £8.50

Groups of 20+ adults £8

UK Schools and College Group of 10+ students £5 (Monday to Friday) plus one free teacher ticket for every 10 student

Under 5s go free

Families - up to 4 under 18s are half price with every full price paying adult

To book:


For more information contact Helen Stallard, PR on behalf of the RSC, on 0774 033 9604 or or Jane Ellis, Communications Manager at

For the Heritage Lottery Fund, please contact Katie Owen, HLF press office, on 020 7591 6036/07973 613820.

Notes for Editors:

For images you can register at

Royal Shakespeare Company - The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world.  We produce an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers. 

Everyone at the RSC - from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians - plays a part in creating the world you see on stage.  All our productions begin life at our Stratford workshops and theatres and we bring them to the widest possible audience through our touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity. So wherever you experience the RSC, you experience work made in Shakespeare’s home town. 

We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre.  We reach 530,000 children and young people annually through our education work, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online. 

Registered charity no. 212481

About the RSC Collection and Archive - Our Collection and Archive is an unparalleled record of Shakespeare in performance spanning over 130 years. The collection is an accredited museum of several thousand objects and is designated as being of national and international importance.

Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) - Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. @heritagelottery


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