8th May 2021
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The RSC Launches Garden Theatre Live Performance Area

The RSC Launches Garden Theatre Live Performance Area
By Michelle Sciarrotta

The Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon has built a special outdoor performance area, the Garden Theatre, in the venues’ Swan Gardens, and is due to open in the summer of 2021.

The Garden Theatre

When theatres closed in March 2020, the RSC was preparing to open The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors, with plans for launching the open-air production dates to be confirmed. This is due to the UK’s roadmap to reopening still remaining uncertain, although a prospective date has been set by government as the 17th May (at the earliest) for the arts and entertainment. Full casting and creative team details, alongside further details about the Garden Theatre, will be announced by the RSC in April.

In a recent press release, the RSC explained:

“Phillip Breen will reconceive The Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare’s earliest and arguably funniest plays, for outdoor performances to open the newly created Garden Theatre. Phillip’s previous RSC directorial credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Provoked Wife and The Hypocrite. The production is designed by Max Jones.”

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, said:

“As we approach the anniversary of the temporary closure of theatres due to the pandemic, it is fantastic to announce future plans and look ahead to audiences returning to Stratford in the summer.

Our doors closed as The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors were preparing to open. Both productions will now be seen by audiences one year on – The Winter’s Tale on screen into people’s homes via BBC Four and BBC iPlayer, and The Comedy of Errors opening our new Garden Theatre, where audiences can return to Stratford and see Shakespeare in the open air.

RSC The Comedy of Errors

It has been an incredibly tough year for all in the industry, including our freelance colleagues who make this industry tick. Despite having to postpone and cancel productions, we have continued to share Shakespeare online and outdoors, and support young people and teachers throughout the pandemic.

These have and will continue to be challenging times, but we look forward with optimism. The outdoor theatre gives us the security that we can perform to good sized audiences as we emerge from the pandemic and prepare for news on the government roadmap’s ‘no earlier than’ dates.

We’ve had extraordinary support, generosity and patience from our supporters and audiences, which has been a great source of encouragement as we have navigated the ups and downs of the year. Alongside our colleagues across the industry, we will play our part in the recovery of our towns and cities and the wellbeing of our communities, and we cannot wait to welcome audiences back.”

The RSC’s lockdown initiatives

While the plans come together for live performances, the RSC has been consistent in providing a wealth of content and activities for homeschooling throughout the year’s lockdown period, as Doran mentioned.

You can check out the RSC’s Learning Zone for 14 Shakespeare plays here.

The latest collaboration with the BBC has been committed to bringing the works of Shakespeare into homes across the UK, with Culture In Quarantine:

“BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative is an essential arts and culture service across BBC platforms that will keep the arts alive in people’s homes, focused most intensely across BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, BBC Two, BBC Four, BBC Sounds, BBC iPlayer and www.bbc.co.uk/bbcarts. We are doing this in close consultation and collaboration with organisations like Arts Council England and other national funding and producing bodies.”

This arts and culture service includes:

  • Guides and access to shuttered exhibitions, performances or permanent collections in museums, galleries and performance spaces;
  • Ways to experience books with privileged access to authors including a collaboration with the Big Book Weekend amongst other initiatives.
  • Jewels from the archive as well as brand new content ensuring that brand new theatre and dance performances will join with modern classics to create a repertory theatre of broadcast.
  • Participatory offers including masterclasses and ways to enable audiences to create at home through Get Creative
  • Topical arts through Front Row, Front Row Late, Free Thinking and more
  • A fund with Arts Council England to support around 25 artists to create new work
  • A place for arts organisations to share innovations from quarantine and for audiences to discover new things through bbc.co.uk/arts


The RSC Website

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Also by Michelle Sciarrotta:

Accessibility At The Smith Center Series: Part One

James “Fitz” FitzSimmons Interview: The Boys In The Band On Netflix

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