The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has released full details of its summer 2021 programme – with performances to take place at a new outdoor theatre space in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The new outdoor theatre is called the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre.
A specially constructed outdoor performance space, it is located in the Swan Theatre Gardens next to the River Avon and overlooked by the Swan Theatre.
The first production at the new outdoor theatre will be the The Comedy of Errors, with the first performance on July 13 and the production continuing until September.
The RSC’s artistic director Gregory Doran said the new theatre was part of the theatre’s response to a world that has been changed by Covid.
He said: “As nations all over the world emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the UK theatre industry prepares to welcome in-person audiences, the RSC is reopening by sharing our work in new, creative and surprising ways.
“We want to respond to our changing world and the needs of our audiences with performances and experiences outdoors and online – opening up our rehearsal rooms for the first time.
“By creating an outdoor theatre space for The Comedy of Errors we hope audiences will feel safe to return to the theatre with confidence.
“Our buildings will gradually come back to life during the summer through our café and restaurant, and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre will be ready for indoor performances in the autumn.”
He added: “The last year has taught us many things and we know that we can reach new audiences around the world through our work online.
“We want to build on this by inviting the public to join our rehearsal process for the first time and working in collaboration with the BBC to adapt The Winter’s Tale specifically for the screen.
“Throughout the pandemic we have continued to support and work alongside the thousands of young people and adults in the RSC community.
“Arts and culture are vital to help people to reconnect after lockdown, and our work continues across the UK with our partner theatres to support the recovery of our towns and cities.
“As our thoughts turn to new beginnings, we cannot wait to work again with our freelance colleagues and to welcome audiences back to the place where, for so many, their love of live theatre first began.”
The Comedy of Errors
The summer 2021 programme begins with an outdoor production of The Comedy of Errors, directed by Phillip Breen running in the Garden Theatre from Tuesday, July 13, until Sunday, September 26.
The Comedy of Errors and The Winter’s Tale were both due to begin performances in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in spring 2020 and were preparing to open when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.
The previously announced screen adaptation of The Winter’s Tale, directed by RSC deputy artistic director Erica Whyman, will be broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday, April 25, at 7pm as part of the BBC Lights Up season.
Lights Up is a season of plays for BBC TV and radio, produced in partnership with theatres across the UK and part of the BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative.
A BSL signed version of the production will be broadcast on Thursday, April 29, at 1.10am. Both versions will subsequently be available on iPlayer.
Following its Stratford run, The Comedy of Errors will tour to partner theatres around the country.
For the first time in the RSC’s history, Gregory Doran will invite audiences inside the full rehearsal process for three weeks this summer, culminating in a complete rehearsal room performance of Henry VI Part One broadcast online on Wednesday, June 23, at 7pm.
Running from June 1 to 25, the Henry VI Part One open rehearsal project will see directors Gregory Doran and Owen Horsley reunite to reinvent the Henry VI plays afresh.
The daily schedule of activity begins with a company warm-up, led by members of the acting company and creative team, in which participants develop skills such as voice technique and stage fighting.
From noon, online audiences are invited to join a live rehearsal session as the actors and directors put the show on its feet.
This will be followed by the opportunity to join members of the company for a post-rehearsal ‘green room chat’.
The Henry VI Part One; Open Rehearsal Project will culminate in a live streamed final rehearsal room run-through from Stratford-upon-Avon on Wednesday, June 23, available to watch on demand until midnight on Friday, June 25.
The three Henry VI plays were originally due to be presented in the Swan Theatre in October by a single company of actors across two performances, but were later postponed due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
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