The Other Place reopens
‘THE OTHER PLACE’ REOPENS MARCH 2016
A new festival theatre including:
- brand new performance space (The Studio Theatre)
- a new home for the RSC’s extensive costume store
- two new rehearsal rooms
- a café bar
- a new theatre tour – From Page to Stage
Work is nearing completion on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) iconic studio theatre, The Other Place, in Stratford-upon-Avon. The doors will open to the public on Monday 21 March with the new theatre tour, From Page to Stage, starting on Thursday 24 March.
Originally built in 1973, The Other Place was home to the RSC’s developmental and new work, housing many landmark productions with RSC alumni such as Judi Dench, Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren, and research and development of major productions such as Les Miserables and Matilda, The Musical. The theatre closed in 2006 to make way for the temporary Courtyard Theatre, where the RSC performed during the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres.
After a 12 month building project the new Other Place will include a 200-seat flexible studio theatre, built within the external steel structure of The Courtyard Theatre, two new rehearsal rooms, and a new home for the RSC’s 40,000 piece Costume Store, giving people access to the Store for the first time via a new theatre tour. There will also be a café bar that will be open throughout the year.
Under the leadership of Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, the studio theatre will be a festival venue for RSC productions, with the first new work festival taking place in the summer (details to be announced in April). As a creative hub, it will offer the opportunity for engagement in learning, research and development, and house rehearsals and training for artists throughout the year. Local amateur groups will be able to use the theatre for rehearsals and performances, and the venue will provide additional performance space for the Company’s work with young people and the local community. The Other Place will also be available for commercial hires, raising valuable income to support the RSC’s artistic programme.
The project is being made possible thanks to a new collaboration with the University of Birmingham, Founding Partner of The Other Place, alongside the support of private and public funders, including very generous donations from The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Backstage Trust, a £3m Lottery grant from Arts Council England.
Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, said:
‘The RSC has a long history of daring theatre making on this site, from the work of Michel St Denis, to Buzz Goodbody and Matilda The Musical. In the past 12 months we have breathed new life into the steel structure of The Courtyard Theatre. What once housed a 1000 seat auditorium is now a brilliant new home for our Studio Theatre, two exceptional rehearsal spaces, and the most wonderful new home for our Costume Store, which includes over 40,000 costumes items created for our productions over the past decades.
‘I am hugely excited about this vibrant, creative space, which embodies the challenging and alternative spirit of the original Other Place. I can already feel the atmosphere around the place and I know that it will be an inspiring place to rehearse, explore and rehearse new ideas, to perform and to experience new writing and other forms of theatre. Everybody working and visiting the building can feel part of the ‘engine room’ of the RSC.
‘We are very grateful to all our funders who have made this possible – including a Lottery grant from Arts Council England, The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, The Backstage Trust and of course our Founding Partners of The Other Place, the University of Birmingham.’
The enormous support for the project has been acknowledged through the naming of the rehearsal rooms and other areas of The Other Place including The Gatsby Charitable Foundation Rehearsal Room and The Backstage Trust Rehearsal Room. The new café bar, Susie’s, is named after the RSC’s Deputy Chair, Susie Sainsbury, to thank her for her generosity and championship towards The Other Place project.
Talking about The Other Place, Cicely Berry, RSC Advisory Director, said,
‘Having been at the opening of the original building, I felt inwardly moved by the memories it brought back when recently visiting the new Other Place.
‘In the early 70s Buzz Goodbody, who was a close friend, was working with Terry Hands as his Assistant Director. At some point during rehearsal Terry thought it would be a good idea if the actors could have costumes to rehearse in: he sent Buzz up to the old tin shed down the road which housed our used costumes, and asked her to find costumes for the actors. The old tin shed was stationed in the space which we now occupy. She went in and selected some costumes, but while doing so she became aware of the space itself, and she began to realise that it would make a perfect space in which to do new/experimental work. Her vision grew, as did her excitement – and she decided to tell Trevor Nunn about it. He investigated the idea, he was taken with it - and The Other Place was born.’
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Notes to Editors
The Other Place has been made possible thanks to the support of private and public funders, including very generous donations from ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND, THE GATSBY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION, BACKSTAGE TRUST, J PAUL GETTY JR CHARITABLE TRUST and a new creative partnership with the University of Birmingham, Founding Partner of The Other Place.
Ian Ritchie Architects Ltd
Tom Piper, RSC Design Consultant
Harper Tackley Consultants, Project Management
JBSP, Contract Administrator
Gardiner & Theobald, Cost Consultant
David Bonnett Associates, Access Consultant
Charcoalblue, Auditorium Planner
Stage Electrics, Lighting, Sound and AV Consultants
Greenwood Planning, Planning Advisor
Goddard Consulting CDMC
WSP, Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, Structural Engineers and Fire Safety Engineers
Gillieron Scott, Acoustic Design
EQ2 Light, Architectural Lighting Consultant
History of The Other Place
The Other Place was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s original studio theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. It began life as a tin shed rehearsal room and in 1974, following a series of experimental theatre projects such as Actors Commando and Theatregoround, it was converted into a studio space for adventurous and experimental work by contemporary writers.
The Other Place was the brainchild of Buzz Goodbody, the pioneering visionary at the helm of its artistic direction in its early days, who made it the most productive tin shed in theatre history. Inspired by the revolutionary spirit of the alternative theatre movements occurring throughout Britain, Buzz created an unconventional auditorium, which aimed to create a sense of community and intimacy between actors and audience. This was a period of great change, altering the face of British theatre forever; with the earliest signs beginning in 1960 when Peter Hall joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre as Artistic Director with the objective to ‘to express Shakespeare’s intentions in terms that modern audiences could understand.’
The Other Place was closed in 1989 for two years of rebuilding, and reopened its doors in 1991 with a permanent brick building. This building later closed and was adapted as a foyer to The Courtyard Theatre which housed RSC productions during the transformation of the RST and Swan theatres.