Posts Tagged ‘Courtyard Theatre’

Tuesday 24 August 2010, 1.15pm -4.30pm
The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

For those of you with some time on Tuesday –
The RSC are looking for volunteers to be audience members as they film selected scenes for a trailer of the production of

Morte d’Arthur: The legend of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table.

A limited number of FREE tickets are available for this special event – don’t miss your opportunity to take part and get a glimpse of how they create film footage of our productions.


The filming will take place in the auditorium of The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, from 1.15 to 4.30pm on Tuesday 24 August.

Anyone aged 18 or over can take part and tickets are free, but you must book your place through the RSC Box Office.

Call 0844 800 1110 now to secure your place

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As you may have seen in the media there was a site visit to the RST building on Sunday, mainly for staff and invited guests. I have been sent a couple of posts from two of our Courtyard Theatre Tour guides who went on the visit, both seemed impressed with what they saw and with what they can now imagine will be in place by the end of the year. If you went perhaps you could add your comments and impressions for the rest of us who were not able to go this time.

 From one –

“I went on the 10.15 site visit today which was fascinating!  There is still alot of work to do inside the building and the Swan is in a very dishevelled state which I wasn’t expecting but Michael Boyd and Vicky Heywood are very optimistic that the work will be finished on time.  They both spoke to the gathered visitors and were obviously delighted with the progress so far.

 One can picture the finished thrust stage and horse-show shaped seating area as we stood on the stage and were able to look around and up – very high; much, much higher than the Courtyard and down at the huge space beneath the stage.  This obviously means there will be ample scope for large pieces of scenery, props etc.

 The walk-way area around the auditoriums will be a great bonus I think and already you can imagine walking around, sitting having a cuppa with friends etc so overall I left feeling very confident and excited about the reopening in the Autumn.”

 And from another –

“The transformed theatre is looking great already, I’m even more excited about it now.  Today was really well organised and interesting and there was a useful handout.  Facts that stick in my mind include: – they have increased number of ladies toilets from 19 to 47 (yay!).

Four areas of improvement in The Swan Theatre: – they will be refurbishing the seats  – same seats but more padding (hurrah!), new carpets, new air-conditioning and it is being re-wired. The public areas seem plentiful and very spacious. All the dressing rooms will have a balcony overlooking the Avon. And from what I could tell from standing on the stage, it seems they have retained the intimate feel of the Courtyard.”

It really is all very exciting!!

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(Lithograph by William Verdult)

Whilst we eagerly await the return of the Ensemble and the opening performances of KING LEAR, readers may like to recall the very first production they saw of this play. Mine was way back in 1968 and it was the first time Trevor Nunn directed it for the RSC. Lear was played by Eric Porter who had been a member of the company since it began in 1960  when his roles had included Leontes and Malvolio. Inbetween engagements at Stratford and the Company’s then London home at the Aldwych Theatre, Porter had achieved further fame as a result of his splendid interpretation of Soames in the BBC adaptation of THE FORSYTE SAGA.

Anticipation was high and expectations were fulfilled. It is also fascinating to consider other casting -Michael Williams playing the Fool for the first time, Alan Howard as Edgar, Norman Rodway as Edmund, David Waller as Kent, Sebastian Shaw as Gloucester, Diane Fletcher, Sheila Allen and Susan Fleetwood as the Daughters. Two future theatrical knights were also in the company, Sir Patrick Stewart as Cornwall and (in his first season at Stratford ) Sir Ben Kingsley as Oswald.

I saw the production very early in the run and at a packed matinee. The audience response at the end remains vivid in the memory, as does  that sense of theatrical excitement prior to the entry of  Lear. Now over forty years later, there will surely be similar excitement at The Courtyard on Thursday 18th February. For those of you who may not previously have seen KING LEAR in the theatre, hurry along because you have a powerful theatrical  experience  in store.

by Tony Boyd-Williams

And Your Favourite King ?

The RSC’s latest King Lear, Greg Hicks, steps on stage this week for the first previews of the new production. Seeing a new production at the Courtyard in the early days, when the air of tension among the company is palpable and everything you see is a surprise, is one of the best things about living in Stratford. And yet a year from today, the production will be one entry in a long list of Lears throughout the years.

Which brings us to the question, who is your best Lear? I think I’ve probably seen about 10 productions over the years, some great, some not so memorable – although to be fair, I have a deep-rooted problem with the play that has nothing to do with the King. The minute Edgar appears I find myself wondering if I’m going to be able to stand Poor Tom being a-cold and if the answer is no, I’m heading for the door. Really, what was Shakespeare thinking?

But I digress. Back to the best Lears. My personal favourites were Timothy West for the English Touring Theatre Company (the only one that has made me cry) and Robert Stephens at the Barbican. The Lawrence Olivier film, with John Hurt as the Fool, was also something pretty special. And there are a few I really wish I’d seen – Richard Briers, Ian Holm and Michael Gambon. My Lear-obsessed friend Ron has seen almost 30 versions and the best as far as he is concerned was Lee Beagley for the Kaboodle company in Liverpool in 1992, with Tom Courtney at the Royal Exchange in Manchester getting a very honourable mention.

We’re running a very unscientific poll over the next few weeks for your best Lear, so all nominations welcome!

by Liz Fisher

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Yesterday evening, I revisited Arabian Nights. Not only did I want to once again catch this marvellous evening in the theatre before the end of the run on Saturday but I thought it would be interesting and fun to enjoy it from the Gallery. How right I was!

I chose seat A64, the end of a row and looking right down onto the stage. This enabled me to see the fantastic movement and dance from another viewpoint and also to once again really appreciate how very special the Courtyard is and what treats will be in store once the RST reopens.

From this part of the theatre one can certainly see every reaction on the faces of the ensemble and also be even more aware of the musicians plus special effects from on high, a true sharing of the special journey which is theatre.

Around me were a large party of young people from Birmingham. They are studying Theatre and this was their first visit to The Courtyard. From their concentration throughout and their cheering at the end, I suspect they will be back as soon as is possible. Such enthusiasm doubles one’s enjoyment of a visit to the RSC.

Tony Boyd-Williams

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