The Royal Shakespeare Company has released full details of its summer 2021 programme which includes an artists’ impression of the newly conceived Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre. This specially constructed outdoor performance space is located in the Swan Theatre Gardens, flanked by the River Avon and overlooked by the Swan Theatre.
Other highlights include:
- Performance schedule announced for The Comedy of Errors, directed by Phillip Breen
- RSC artistic director Gregory Doran and Owen Horsley present Henry VI Part One: Open Rehearsal Project culminating in a live online rehearsal room performance on 23 June
- Next Generation Act present All Mirth and No Matter, a creative response to Much Ado About Nothing directed by Sameena Hussain; online Playmaking Festival to celebrate creativity of young people and adults from across the UK; Live Schools’ Broadcast of Macbeth (2018) announced
Gregory Doran, artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, said:
“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.
‘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. We know there is an appetite from those who can’t join us in Stratford, and we want to welcome them to the RSC.
“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
As previously announced, the summer 2021 programme begins with an outdoor production of The Comedy of Errors, directed by Phillip Breen, running in the Garden Theatre from 13 July-26 September 2021. Breen’s previous RSC directorial credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Provoked Wife and The Hypocrite.
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 Erica Whyman, RSC deputy artistic director, will be broadcast on BBC Four on 25 April as part of BBC Lights Up initiative. The RSC will also stream the production to subscribers, members and patrons based outside the UK following the BBC broadcast.
Following its Stratford run, The Comedy of Errors will tour to partner theatres around the nation including the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury from 27-30 Oct. Additional dates and venues to be announced.
Henry VI Part One; Open Rehearsal Project
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 23 June at 7pm.
Running from 1-25 June, Henry VI Part One; Open Rehearsal Project will see directors Doran and Owen Horsley re-unite 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. 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 as they reflect back on the day.
The Henry VI Part One; Open Rehearsal Project will culminate in a live streamed final rehearsal room run through from Stratford-upon-Avon on 23 June, available to watch on demand until midnight on 25 June.
The three Henry VI plays were originally due to be presented in the Swan Theatre from 10 October 2020-2 January 2021 by a single company of actors, across two performances but were later postponed due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
Doran and Horsley last worked alongside each other between 2013-2015 on the critically acclaimed King and Country cycle featuring Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V.