Central to the project is the 1932 Royal Shakespeare Theatre, whose auditorium will seat 1,000 people and feature a thrust stage. There will also be a combined entrance for both the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres.
The RSC's self-proclaimed intention is to create the best theatre for Shakespeare in the world, drawing inspiration from the courtyard theatres of Shakespeare's day.
RSC artistic director Michael Boyd said, "We want to move away from the 19th century proscenium — picture frame — to a theatre which celebrates interaction. Our commitment to bring an immediacy and clarity to Shakespeare means we need to bring the audience to a more engaged relationship with our actors. The best way we can achieve this is in a bold, thrust-stage, one-room auditorium — a modern take on the theatres of Shakespeare's day."
During the construction, RSC productions will be staged at The Courtyard Theatre, which opens in July with a production of Shakespeare's Henry VI trilogy, building on Boyd's 2001 Olivier Award-winning staging.
Building work is set to start in spring 2007 and will include restoration of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre's art deco features. The Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres are scheduled to reopen in 2010.