Latest Press Releases




This Autumn, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will perform its 90-minute First Encounters with Shakespeare production of Twelfth Night to schools and theatres across the country. The Company will visit Birmingham, Northampton, Cumbria, Blackpool, County Durham, Middlesbrough, York, Bradford, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Suffolk and Stratford-upon-Avon from 20 September to 12 November.

The aim is to bring Shakespeare and live performance to those who have never seen his work live and to younger audiences, with a focus on areas of structural disadvantage. Using edited versions of the original language, First Encounters with Shakespeare productions are 90-minute, abridged versions of Shakespeare’s plays. Twelfth Night has been given a 21st century update with an environmentally conscious take on Shakespeare’s tale of heartbreak, hoaxes and hidden identities. Directed by Robin Belfield, the production has environmental sustainability at its core and has been co-created with young people from the Company’s Associate Schools* programme and partner theatres.

As well as looking at ways to limit waste and reduce the environmental impact of the theatre-making process, designer Georgie White has led a team of students from Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA) to design and create a set made from reclaimed and recycled materials.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, RSC Director of Learning and National Partnerships, said:

At the heart of our First Encounters tour are the regional theatres and schools we create it with. Many of us have our first encounter with Shakespeare at school, an experience that can define our attitude to live theatre and to Shakespeare for the rest of our lives.  Together we bring the excitement of live performance of Shakespeare’s work into the heart of schools and local communities.

We know that many who see First Encounters are new to Shakespeare and to theatre. Testament to the impact that partnerships between schools and theatres can make; partnerships forged in a shared vision of an arts rich education as the right of every child.’

The RSC’s Associate Schools Programme is the Company’s national partnership programme with schools and regional theatres which deliberately targets areas of structural disadvantage, including 26 areas of multiple deprivation across the country. Each year the RSC works with 500,000 children and young people to develop reading, writing and language skills as well as support the development of key life, work and social skills.  

The production opens at Nelson Mandela School in Birmingham (20-21 September) before touring to schools and theatres in Northampton, Cumbria, Blackpool, County Durham, Middlesbrough, York, Bradford, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Suffolk. The final performances take place in Stratford-upon-Avon between 10-12 November.

A story of mistaken identity, Viola finds herself washed up in a strange land separated from her twin brother. Disguising herself as a man called Cesario, Viola finds work with Duke Orsino, only to fall head over heels in love with him. But Orsino is in love with Olivia, who is grieving for her brother and refusing all offers of romance. Until, that is, she sees Cesario for the first time.

Commenting on the production, Director, Robin Belfield, said:

We want children and young people’s first encounters with live theatre and Shakespeare to be fun, engaging and meaningful. So, we asked them what was important to them, and two things came across very clearly and consistently: that the show should be a co-creation between the RSC and the young people themselves and that climate crisis should sit at its heart.

From thinking about how much paper we use to print scripts, programmes, flyers and posters; to how we reduce mileage and the size of van we use; to the design and sustainability of costumes and set, it’s been an incredible journey.  Whilst we haven’t resolved all the issues, it’s been an incredibly interesting and important process that will have broader implications and inform the way we work across the whole of the RSC in the future.’

The creative team includes: Georgie White (Designer), Simon Slater (Music), Asha Jennings-Grant (Movement) and Nicky Cox (Associate Director) 

Performance times and ticketing information will be updated in the coming weeks on our website Casting to be announced in the autumn.


For further information contact: Jo Hammond, 07739 330294,



    Nelson Mandela School: 20 - 21 September


    Silhouette Youth Theatre, Weston Favell Shopping Centre: 23 - 24 September


    Dowdales School:  27 September


    Our Ladies Of Assumption School: 28 September

    Blackpool Grand Theatre: 29 September - 1 October


St Cuthbert’s Rc Primary School: 4 October

St Mary’s Cockerton: 5 October


    Macmillan Academy: 6-7 October

  • YORK

    Fulford School: 11 October

    York Theatre Royal: 12 October


    Belle Vue Girls Academy: 14 October

    Bradford Alhambra Studio: 15 October

  • HULl

    Hull Truck: 18-19 October

    St Mary’s College: 20-21 October


    Bonnington Theatre: 31 October-1 November 

    Bluecoat Beechdale Academy: 2 November


    Springhead Primary School: 3 - 4 November


    Ormiston Sudbury Academy: 7 - 8 November


The Other Place: 10 - 12 November


About RSC Learning and our Associate Schools Programme 

RSC Learning is one of UK’s largest arts learning programmes, working with over 1,000 schools each year to broaden access to high quality arts learning and transform experiences of Shakespeare in schools. Using the same techniques our actors and directors use in rehearsal, we use a playful approach to learning that engages pupils of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.

Through our national partnership programme with schools and regional theatres, the Associate Schools Programme, we deliberately target areas of structural disadvantage, including 26 areas of multiple deprivation across the country, from Cornwall to Middlesbrough and reaching around 500,000 young people each year. Research shows that our approaches to teaching Shakespeare support the development of reading and writing skills, accelerate language acquisition and development, raise aspirations and improve student attitudes to school and learning in general. They also foster well-being, self-esteem, empathy, resilience and tolerance and promote critical-thinking, creative, analytical, communication and problem-solving skills.

The RSC is supported using public funding by Arts Council England

The work of the RSC is supported by the Culture Recovery Fund

The RSC is generously supported by RSC America

First Encounters is kindly supported by the Misses Barrie Charitable Trust

Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) 

The Royal Shakespeare Company creates world class theatre, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world, performing plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, as well as commissioning an exceptionally wide range of original work from contemporary writers. Our purpose is to ensure that Shakespeare is for everyone, and we do that by unlocking the power of his plays and of live performance, throughout the UK and across the world.  

We believe everybody’s life is enriched by culture and creativity. We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. Our transformative Learning Programmes reach over half a million young people and adults each year, and through our Creative Placemaking and Public Programme we create projects with and for communities who have not historically engaged with our work. We are a leader in creative immersive technologies and digital development. 

We have a proud record of innovation, diversity and excellence on stage and are determined to grasp the opportunity to become an even more inclusive, progressive, relevant and ambitious organisation. 

We are committed to being a teaching and learning theatre – in which we create world class theatre for, with and by audiences and theatre makers of all ages. We provide training for emerging and established theatre makers and arts professionals, for teachers and for young people. We share learning formally and informally. We embed training and research across our company, work and processes. 

We recognise the climate emergency and work hard to embed environmental sustainability into our operations, creative work and business practice, making a commitment to continually reduce our carbon footprint. 

Keep Your RSC supports our mission to create theatre at its best, unlocking Shakespeare and transforming lives. Thousands of generous audience members, trusts and foundations and partners supported Keep Your RSC since 2020, alongside a £19.4 million loan from the Culture Recovery Fund, we are thrilled to be welcoming audiences back. It will take time to recover, to reopen all our theatres, and many years to repay the loan and the support and generosity of our audiences is more important than ever. Please donate at 

Arts Council England 

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.

You might also like