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Issued: 2.00pm 17 September 2018


The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) issued its latest annual review for 2017/18 at its AGM in Stratford-upon-Avon today:

Reflecting on the year Gregory Doran, Artistic Director and Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director, said:

“We’re proud to have inspired so many people this year.  Shakespeare’s plays continue to be powerfully resonant for audiences and theatre artists and our work in classrooms all over the country, which has grown once again, demonstrates every day that engaging with Shakespeare’s words can transform lives.  Our very wide range of new work reminds us that Shakespeare’s ambitious and diverse spirit is alive and well in the theatre voices of today.

“We produced 27 productions and co-productions, including five new plays, performed for 92 weeks in London, delivered 17 weeks of UK touring and shared Live from Stratford-upon-Avon broadcasts in 28 countries.  Worldwide we sold 1.6 million tickets.

“We give young people an inspirational first experience of Shakespeare, and this year we reached over 500,000 young people across the country, through our 12 partner theatres and 257 Associate Schools across the country.  It was brilliant to be joined by 17,000 students at our first Live Lesson, streamed straight from the rehearsal room of Romeo and Juliet: three hundred schools took part that day creating a fabulous nationwide classroom.

“The RSC has always trained generations of the best theatre-makers and the launch of RSC Next Generation develops this even further. We recognise that people from low-income backgrounds remain under-represented across our industry and Next Generation starts to address this, both backstage and on stage.

“We thank our many funders and supporters, our theatre and education partners across the country, our creative teams, and every one of our colleagues, for making everything we achieve possible.”


During 2017/18, the RSC has:

On stage

  • Produced 27 productions and co-productions, including five new plays, which played in Stratford-upon-Avon, London, and on tour across the UK and around the world
  • Staged two Mischief Festivals of new work welcoming over 5,000 ticket buyers to our vibrant The Other Place theatre.
  • Performed for 92 weeks in London including year-round in the West End with Matilda The Musical
  • Enjoyed 17 weeks on tour around the UK, including The Hypocrite with Hull Truck Theatre as part of Hull UK City Of Culture, and the acclaimed production of Hamlet which included a four-week run at Hackney Empire.
  • Launched the UK & Ireland tour of Matilda The Musical at Leicester’s Curve, alongside a major national education programme.
  • Broadcast five Shakespeare productions across the globe to 28 countries through Live from Stratford-upon-Avon cinema screenings.122,000 people enjoyed the broadcasts, including in 250 cinemas in cities across China for the first time.
  • Concluded the North America, Australia and New Zealand tours of Matilda The Musical which visited 56 cities. Seoul will see first non-English language production of Matilda produced with Myung Sung Park & Seensee Company.Almost 8 million people have now seen the production worldwide in over 6000 performances so far.
  • Continued our cultural exchange with China through a production of King Lear at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Beijing using our actor and audience-friendly new translations. Our ambition is to create a new edition of Chinese translations of Shakespeare's works in time to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare's First Folio in 2023.
  • Welcomed Chinese playwrights and classical translators to Stratford-upon-Avon who are creating the Company’s next English version of a Chinese classical drama which will be staged in 2021. Our China exchange programme continues to develop our understanding about the power of words to transcend cultural boundaries


    “I sincerely hope the cultural communities of our two countries will seize the new opportunities and achieve new success. And I look forward to continued contribution of the RSC to China-UK cultural exchanges in the ‘Golden Era’” Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming




  • Sold 1.6 million tickets worldwide


  • Enjoyed audience approval with 97% rating productions as ‘excellent, very good, or good’.
  • Welcomed over 51,000 audience members who had their first theatre experience at the RSC
  • Shared year-round offer in Stratford, with 21,000 visitors taking a theatre tour and 31,000 visiting the top of our theatre tower to enjoy the views of Shakespeare’s home town.

  • Attracted new and younger audiences with 35% of audience members new to the RSC and 38% of audiences aged 16-44

  • Reached 500,000 young people through RSC Education and its work with 12 partner theatres and 257 Associate Schools around the country, the majority of which are in areas with a high take-up of free school meals.


    ‘The language that Shakespeare uses starts to replace other things in your mind. When you understand it, it opens up a whole new world for you’ Amber, aged 10


  • Heard 94% of teachers say that working with the RSC and their regional theatre partner helped young people ‘find their voice’ – improving pupils’ language skills and confidence
  • Broadcast Julius Caesar and Twelfth Night for FREE to schools, enjoyed by 22,000 students
  • Created a nationwide classroom broadcasting the first Live Lesson with 17,000 young people from 300 schools tuning in
  • Launched RSC Next Generation, a unique talent development programme which includes the first ever RSC young company of actors continuing our commitment to training generations of the very best theatre-makers
  • Staged the RSC’s first Chilled performance increasing the extensive range of options for audiences with disabilities which included 40 audio-described performances and accompanying touch tours, 23 captioned performances 7 British Sign Language performances and 3 relaxed performances



  • The charity’s income from core operations was £66.8m
  • Self-generated income was 77%, including Box Office revenue of £34.7m and trading income of £6.6m
  • Annual fundraising income was £4m and the Company launched the Stitch In Time fundraising campaign to raise £3million towards the restoration and redevelopment of the RSC’s renowned Costume Workshop
  • Arts Council England investment remained static at £15.4m but will reduce by 3% from 2018/19
  • As expected due to the completion of overseas tours, income from Matilda The Musical declined.This had an overall impact on the net surplus of £0.5million, reduced by £3.5 million from the previous year.This was also impacted by other operational investments such as organisational resilience, GDPR and security projects



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Notes to editors:

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


Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.


With thanks to our supporters

Live From Stratford-upon-Avon is generously supported by SIDNEY E. FRANK FOUNDATION

The work of the RSC Literary Department is generously supported by THE DRUE HEINZ TRUST

The Hypocrite is a recipient of an EDGERTON FOUNDATION NEW PLAYS AWARD



The restoration and redevelopment of the Costume Workshop is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, with additional support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, Lydia and Manfred Gorvy, The Foyle Foundation, The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation and other generous supporters.

COATS Official Thread Supplier to the RSC 

Edwardian Group is the preferred hotel partner for Matilda The Musical in London

Schools' Broadcasts and Live Lessons are generously supported by Virgin Media as part of its commitment to make good things happen through digital


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Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international TV and broadband company. Liberty Global connects over 22 million customers through operations in 12 countries across Europe subscribing to more than 46 million TV, broadband internet and telephony services. It also serves over 6 million mobile subscribers and offers WiFi service through 10 million access points across its footprint.

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