Royal Shakespeare Company Unveils Ambitious Plans

News   Royal Shakespeare Company Unveils Ambitious Plans

The RSC is submitting ambitious new plans, for the development of its Stratford on Avon home, to the Arts Council this week.

The plans include a new 1050 seat Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the flagship of the company, together with a refurbished and improved library and gallery, creation of teaching and support facilities for the new RSC Academy, a third auditorium attached to The Other Place (the RSC's alternative theatre space at Stratford) and restaurant facilities.

Visitors to the Stratford on Avon "theatre village" will be able to attend lectures, workshops and education programs as well as visiting one of three theatre spaces and eat there as well: a day's outing, immersed in theatre.

These plans, which dwarf the National's proposed expansion of the Lyttleton theatre into two temporary performance areas for six months of every year, show that the RSC, like the National, is confident of its present role and ambitious for the future.

The fact that both national companies are expanding (the National with community theatre outreach programs in East London as well as activities around its South Bank headquarters) is a welcome sign of the vitality as well as the viability of theatre at a time when some in the press have been suggesting that theatre is in crisis.

While it is true that some shows have been floundering in the commercial West End, others have been doing remarkably well (My Fair Lady continuing to sell out each night, for example, and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof's star Brendan Fraser still packing the Lyric with American tourists as well as British theatregoers) the RSC, like the National, is clearly still on a roll.

Whether or not Adrian Noble's controversial withdrawal from permanent London residency at the Barbican turns out to be a good idea, it is clear that the company's historic base at Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford on Avon, will not only be secure but radically expanded and improved.

—by Theatrenow