RSC Outlines Plans for New Theatre
Thursday, 1 November 2001
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is set to create a new waterfront theatre village, redeveloping its historic home in Stratford-upon-Avon. The £100 million proposals include plans to rebuild a landmark modern Shakespeare playhouse on the riverside site of the current Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The Arts Council has already earmarked a total of £50 million for the project - a matching £50 million is being raised by the RSC.

The rebuilt flagship Royal Shakespeare Theatre will be the most significant new theatre building of the new century. Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat and theatre consultant Iain Mackintosh will play a key role in moving these proposals through to the design stage. It is anticipated that initial design ideas will be completed by the early summer of 2002. The key elements of the new theatre village include the construction of a completely new 1,050-seat Royal Shakespeare Theatre, featuring an adaptable auditorium allowing large-scale thrust and proscenium stage performance. This will be supported by improved audience facilities and by modern backstage, rehearsal and administration accommodation. Also key to the proposals is the construction of a new and highly adaptable auditorium as an extension to the existing The Other Place theatre on its current site. This space will provide the RSC's permanent new third auditorium, capable of accommodating variable forms of theatre staging and experimental work, as well as film and video recording.

Since it was built in 1932, the existing Royal Shakespeare Theatre has been regarded as fundamentally flawed; a two-room theatre (rather than the one-room space for which Shakespeare wrote) that owes more to cinema design of the period than other theatre buildings. The current proscenium stage and auditorium have been much altered in an attempt to bring the audience and actors closer together.

Continuing RSC performance in Stratford throughout the redevelopment is a crucial element of the redevelopment plans. The project is likely to be completed by 2008, but the RSC will continue performing in at least two theatres in Stratford throughout the redevelopment. It is anticipated that The Other Place theatre will be the first to be redeveloped, providing a home for Shakespeare and other main stage productions, while the new principal playhouse is under construction. With the new The Other Place auditorium seating up to 650 people and the Swan Theatre's capacity at 430 seats, a minimum of 1,080 seats would be available in Stratford during the transition.

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