The Royal Shakespeare Company will focus its programming in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Stratford-upon-Avon over the coming year, with the Swan Theatre and The Other Place remaining closed until 2022. The Company’s extensive education, digital and streaming activity will continue throughout the autumn and winter to allow people to experience the RSC in their homes and schools. This Winter, small-scale socially distanced performances will take place in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and be streamed into homesThe Company will also stage free outdoor activity, and plans to reopen its West End hit, Matilda The Musical as soon as it is financially viable. 

The announcement comes as formal consultation begins with the RSC’s permanent workforce, and the Company recognised trade unions and staff representatives. The consultation process is a result of the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and covers a range of proposals from redundancies to changes in terms and conditions of employment.  Although the final number of redundancies will not be known until the end of the formal consultation process,158 people are currently in roles at risk. Through redeployment into existing and newly created roles, together with voluntary redundancy, the RSC hopes to reduce the number of people leaving the Company due to compulsory redundancy to below 90, at most a 17% reduction in the workforce. The consultation is expected to conclude in early December.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST)

With the end of the Company’s free, outdoor Summer performances, the RSC will stage a programme of live performances in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in December and January. The events will see the return of socially distanced, reduced capacity audiences to the RST for the first time since March, with events being streamed to enable people further afield to take part. Full details will be announced at the beginning of November.

Planning also continues for the full re-opening of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Spring 2021 with full-scale productions of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors, when it is hoped that social distancing restrictions will be eased. 

The production of The Magician’s Elephant, due to open in November 2021, is planned to go ahead as announced in the RST. Tickets are currently on sale. The new family musical, based on Kate DiCamillo’s novel, is directed by Sarah Tipple with music and lyrics by Nancy Harris and Marc Teitler.

The ongoing closure of the Swan Theatre means that The Wars of the Roses Parts 1 & 2, which had already been rescheduled from this autumn until autumn 2021, will now be delayed, hopefully to open in 2022. The staging of the three parts of Shakespeare’s Henry VI will be performed as a landmark event alongside Richard III journeying headlong through one of the most turbulent times of English history.

RSC Education

Throughout the pandemic, RSC Education has continued to support young people and teachers around the country through its education work. Initiatives such as #homeworkhelp saw RSC alumni including David Tennant, Noma Dumezweni and Adjoa Andoh answer questions from young people around the world in support of their Shakespeare studies. 

As young people and teachers continue to adapt to the new ways of teaching and learning, RSC Education are developing new approaches to support both in school and home learning. Activity includes online performances delivered by RSC actors to early years children and families at home and in schools, courses to support young people’s literacy, leadership training for young people and online courses that explore important questions about identity and representation, all through Shakespeare’s plays. The Company are also continuing its collaborations with Regional Theatres, community groups and schools across England. 

The RSC’s 2016 production of Hamlet, with Paapa Essiedu in the title role, will be streamed free of charge into schools across the UK in the week of 16 November, with supporting digital content. This is part of the RSC free Schools’ broadcasts series.

Talking about the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the future of the RSC, Gregory Doran, Artistic Director said:

“We want to welcome our audiences back, to re-open again and to help our regional and wider economy rebuild itself, bringing people back into our towns and cities. Our financial position and uncertainty around future restrictions means that our immediate focus will be on our largest theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon – the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.  We’re planning for a Winter programme of events which will see a small number of socially distanced audiences back in our buildings, an exciting prospect with audiences also joining us online from their homes.

“We look ahead with optimism to 2021 when we plan for our postponed productions of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors to finally make it to the stage, and for our glorious Matilda The Musical to re-open at the Cambridge Theatre alongside other shows to reignite the vital West End economy.  We want our brilliant workforce, permanent and freelance, to be back doing what they do best, making live theatre.

“Throughout the pandemic we have supported young people and teachers around the country through RSC Education.  It’s critical work that responds directly to support teachers and young people need now, and this will continue through newly developed ways of working that support learning at home and in school.

“We continue to face the challenges of the ongoing pandemic and today was a difficult day as we began formal consultation about potential redundancies with our fantastic staff.  We will continue to respond creatively to the ongoing crisis and look forward to the moment when we can reopen our doors with full-scale productions to celebrate all that is brilliant about live theatre.”

Catherine Mallyon, RSC Executive Director added,

“We remain positive that live theatre will be back in our communities, doing what it does best – entertaining audiences and bringing joy to so many people.

“These are incredibly difficult times for everyone, and for the theatre community they are especially tough.  Our live performance sector is experiencing one of the highest levels of loss of work anywhere: the personal impact of this is often devastating; the loss of skilled and talented people permanently from our sector is a very real worry for the future; and the impact on the nation’s economy immense.  We are today taking tough decisions to cut costs and make sure we can reopen with confidence.  We remain completely committed to a vibrant future for live theatre and to ensuring that right across the country Shakespeare and theatre can be relevant to and enjoyed by all the communities we serve.

“The extraordinary support we continue to see from the Company, our Members, Patrons, sponsors and supporters, alongside the Stratford-upon-Avon community is a wonderful thing.  It demonstrates the importance placed on theatre in people’s lives, and we thank everybody for their messages, donations, patience and commitment to seeing us reopen again”. 

The RSC’s Ticketing Team will be in touch directly with ticket holders for The Wars of the Roses.