The Swan Wing, which contains the Swan Theatre, is the only remaining part of the original 1879 Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, which burnt down in 1926. It originally housed a library, reading room and picture gallery, and it currently includes the façade and entrance, hallway, bar area, staircase, Ferguson exhibition room and the bridge that links it to the Swan Theatre auditorium.
Work for the refurbishment project begins in January 2015 when scaffolding will be erected around the front of the Swan Theatre. The restored Grade II listed Swan Wing and a new exhibition will open in 2016, to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Performances will continue in the Swan Theatre throughout the project, including productions of Volpone, The Jew of Malta and Love's Sacrifice.
The Swan Wing project is paid for through a £2.8 million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with generous support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation and many other supporters.
In a press statement, Geraldine Collinge, RSC director of events and exhibitions, commented, "The Swan Wing project will allow us to conserve and restore elements of this beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon landmark, which has been a feature of the town since the 1870s. Many of the original elements have been hidden over time and we want to bring these back for the local community and visitors to enjoy.
"We know that people of all ages relish the chance to discover how we make our productions. Our new exhibition will allow them to do this through the history of the RSC and will showcase our fantastic Archive and Collection. It will be of interest to everybody and will include activities for children and families as well as providing resources for students and schools. It will be a fun and exciting way to find out how theatre has been made in Shakespeare’s home town over the centuries." For further details on the RSC, visit www.rsc.org.uk.