Posts Tagged ‘Royal Shakespeare Company’

We recently sent out an email and newsletter with the below forthcoming events detailed, these are all on sale now. You can either book online at http://www.rsc.org.uk, call the Box Office on 0844 800 1110 or book in person at the theatre.  Events are open to all RSC Friends and RSC Supporters.

Walking Shakespeare’s London Theatreland – Book Online
Saturday 10 November 2012, 10am
Meet at Southwark Cathedral London

Julian Bowsher’s recently published Shakespeare’s London Theatreland is a mine of attractively presented information on the archaeology, history and drama of the Elizabethan theatre. Julian will meet us at Southwark Cathedral (coffee and a quick look at Ned Shakespeare’s memorial) at 10am and then walk us about 1.5 miles taking in the main sites to Shakespeare’s Globe; it’s roughly Walk 1 in his book. At the Globe we shall have lunch, a tour of the theatre and spend time in the exhibition. There will be a lot of walking and standing in this event. Comfortable shoes, and umbrellas just in case, please.

Tickets £20 Friends / £23 Guests, without food or transport. Booking closes on 5 November at 10am.

We can arrange transport from Stratford, if Friends require it, in the region of £20 return. Email Coreen at housesteads1@btinternet.com for details. If you book a ticket for this event, please email Coreen with your contact details, or phone 01789 268775. This information is vital to ensure the smooth running of the event.

Afternoon Tea – Book Online
Thursday 6 December, 5pm
Ruinart Circle Bar, Royal Shakespeare Theatre

We enjoyed pre-Christmas tea with the The Heart of Robin Hood Company last year and thought we would like to arrange a similar event this year after a matinee performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor. We will be inviting members of that company to join us between their two performances – you may wish to take the opportunity to see the show too.

Tickets £10 Friends / £11 guests, to include coffee/ tea, sandwiches, cake and mince pies. Booking closes on 28 November.


Sylvestra Le Touzel – Mistress Page – Book Online
Saturday 12 January 2013, 11am
Holy Trinity Parish Centre 

We are delighted that one the ‘Merry Wives’ has agreed to be our guest. Silvestra le Touzel has been a familiar face on television and at an early age in Dr Who, going on to perform in many programmes and most recently in Parade’s End. Her stage career too has been impressive, fond memories of seeing her in Simon Callow’s adaptation for the RSC of Les Enfants du Paradis. Please join us!

Tickets £5 Friends / £6 Guests / £2.50 under 18s. Booking closes on 10 January.

Tour of the Garrick Club – Book Online
Tuesday 12 February 2013, 10am
Garrick Club, 15 Garrick Street, London WC2E 9AY

We will tour the Garrick Club, which houses the most significant collection of British theatrical works of art, with over 1,000 paintings, drawings and pieces of sculpture on display. Pictures of every British actor of note, from Garrick to Gielgud, can be found hanging on the Club walls. The tour ends with a visit to the club’s Theatrical Library, with its rich collection of theatrical books, plays, prints and manuscripts, and includes coffee and biscuits. Women are allowed in the club for this tour!  There will be time in the afternoon to attend a matinee of your choice.

Tickets £20 Friends / £23 Guests, without food or transport. Booking closes on 7 February 2013.

If you book a ticket for this event, please email Coreen athousesteads1@btinternet.com with your contact details, or phone 01789 268775. This information is vital to ensure the smooth running of the event. We can arrange transport from Stratford, if friends require it, approximately £20 return.

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by David Stevens


March 22: – Standing ovation first night preview, even better performance when I took Ingrid on the 27th March and sure to be better and better. Beg, steal or borrow a ticket. Great Richard and brilliant cast and direction.

 Jonjo shines as Richard III at RSC’s Swan | Stratford Observer


Richard III RSC Swan Theatre Stratford JONJO O’Neill, with a little help from his friends, ensures The World Shakespeare Festival gets off to a gripping start

April 9: – You will be absolutely blown away by Pippa Nixon in King John– as the reviewer writes the role of a lifetime.

King John Reviews at Swan Theatre – Stratford-Upon-Avon – Whatsonstage.com


Luckily for a reviewer, there are nights in the theatre that completely reaffirm your love for the magic of live performance. Tonight is one of those nights. Maria Aberg’s production of King John is nothing short of a triumph. It is a vital and vibrant reworking of a neglected play that transfor…

April 23: – And today the Company welcomed the Iraqi Theatre Company who will be performing Romeo And Juliet in Bagdad at the Swan from 26 April to May5. This version of the play is in Arabic with English surtitles. Directed by Monadhil Daood. Sounds really exciting – music, poetry and ritual. Met them today- what a lovely group of people

May 1st: – Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad. Last night was wonderful both the performance at The Swan and the superb party at the Duck. An outstanding achievement from the Iraqi Theatre Company, It was pure joy. Rhythm, feeling and proof that, via Shakespeare, we are all Brothers. To Monadihil Daood and his team of actors and musicians all I can say is shukran (thank you).

May 4: – Having attended the understudy performance of The Comedy of Errors, it just confirms what a strong Ensemble of Actors and technical management team the Royal Shakespeare Company have available. Jonathan Slinger giving us an “Accrington” accent, the joy of Amer Hlehel playing Angelo, Sandy Grierson excelling with an English accent and his twin Sargon Yelda so strong in his part. It was clear that they along with the magnificent lady members deserved the applause from the audience. However ANKUR BAHL playing both Dromios stole the show- not easy when one considers how brilliant Felix Hayes and Bruce Mackinnon are in the usual show. Privilege to have been there and Ankur is one to watch out for. Bravo. Recommend to everyone to try and get to an understudy performance.

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Written to be Heard
Holy Trinity Church
Thursday 1 March
Tickets £8 (under 16s free)
Running time 90mins 

RSC Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran, Canon Treasurer Mark Oakley from St Paul’s Cathedral, the Revd Martin Gorick and Senior RSC Voice Coach Alison Bomber take part in a discussion exploring the power of language and the importance of the words you choose.  Continuing the debates contained within the RSC production, Written on the Heart, the panel will talk about the enduring legacy of the King James Bible and discuss whether,  in trying to make  the Bible easily understandable, has something poetically profound been ‘lost in translation’?

With Readings by RSC actors including Stephen Boxer

‘One of the main points for discussion, for me, is around the impact of language on its audience, and therefore the precision of the choices we make when selecting our words.  From the wrangling within the new RSC play Written on the Heart over the translation of the Bible into English, to the ongoing changes to a developing liturgy over time, there seems to have been a balancing act between clarity of comprehension and expressivity/poetry.’ – Senior RSC Voice Coach Alison Bomber

Mark Oakley is Canon Treasurer of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. He was the Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe, an archdeaconry in the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe of the Church of England, from 2005 to 2008. As a Residentiary Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral he carries particular responsibility for the Arts policy, fabric and collections in one of the most famous churches in the world.

Book online or call the RSC Box Office on 0844 800 1110.

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A feast of Shakespeare’s  HISTORIES during this special holiday week not only enabled me to really appreciate the by now growing strengths of the RSC ensemble, but also the dramatic benefits of the open stage as opposed to waiting for the action to happen once a curtain had risen. The direction of the plays by Peter Hall, John Barton and Clifford Williams (with assistance from Frank Evans) ensured that even before the house lights went down, characters entered and by their very actions and movement prepared us for what was to follow (e.g. in RICHARD II, Bushy, Green and Bagot seemed to conspire in one corner whilst seeming to deliberately disregard John of Gaunt who remained alone at another part of the stage). At the moment the first lines of any of the plays was spoken, the house lights dimmed and we were plunged into a world of politics and warfare, with Shakespeare’s words allowing the story to unfold.

Such dramatic beginnings were most effective and the device continued when the intervals were reached. Certain characters e.g. the gardeners in RICHARD II, the drawers in HENRY 1V -PART I were left on stage as the house lights came up and proceed to move props or items of furniture in readiness for the following scene. This was my first introduction to members of an acting company performing tasks which had hitherto been performed behind  the curtain by unseen stage staff.

Another innovation for me was the use of live musicians in costume  -most effective and exciting especially in the case of drums and trumpets accompanying marching armies. Of course, fifty years on we are used at the RSC to experiencing live music, but in the sixties I was reminded of Prospero’s Line -“Tis new to thee”. 

However, one aspect of the RSC I had not yet experienced was new work. This was to be remedied the following year when I saw Ian Holm (Prince Hal and Richard III during that memorable 1964 season ) in a world premiere of a play specially commissioned by Peter Hall. The play? Harold Pinter’s THE HOMECOMING and the next blog will share some special memories of  fantastic evening in a theatre with a production that became not only a landmark for the RSC but for British Theatre.

Tony Boyd-Williams

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Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 August

Join Tanika Gupta for a weekend of explosive play readings by lady dramatists and a provocative on stage discussion with guests including Harriet Walter, April De Angelis, Adjoa Andoh, Rosin McBrinn and Ola Animashawun.

Only 23% of Shakespeare’s characters are female and they occupy 17% of stage time. We still see a similar ratio on our stages across the theatre industry.

Did Shakespeare set an unbreakable template? Have female dramatists managed to redress the balance?

Find out more – http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/events/rsc50/tanika-gupta.aspx

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The summer of 1964 saw me back in Stratford and this time for a whole week! I had just finished my schooldays and my ‘A’ level results were on the horizon (in fact, they were due in a few days). Meantime, I was determined to enjoy an absolute feast of theatre and I was not disappointed. On the day I arrived (Saturday), I had tickets for the matinee of RICHARD II and the evening performance of HENRY IV -PART I. As usual, I made my way down to the theatre as soon as possible and purchased programmes. A quick glance at the cast for each play showed that I would soon be seeing some now familiar faces from previous productions -David Warner, Roy Dotrice, Ian Holm, Janet Suzman, Eric Porter, Jeffery Dench, John Normington and Jeffery Dench. The programmes were more detailed than two years previously and they provided much food for thought over lunch – no pun intended!

 I still have the programmes for this historic season and readers may be interested in the following quote from an article about the then RSC: “The Royal Shakespeare Company believe that the Elizabethan theatre and especially Shakespeare offers a dramatic richness unequalled in any other epoch or language …the aim of the Royal Shakespeare Company is to express this richness so that it is immediate to modern audiences, an experience that reverberates with the thoughts and feelings of today “.

 Some retrospective thoughts about the productions I enjoyed that week will follow in future blogs but I cannot resist referring to the weather on that first day of my week in Stratford. It may have been early August but as I made my way from the theatre in search of lunch, the heavens opened and there followed a downpour worthy of the winter months. Ah, but didn’t someone write something about “..the rain it raineth every day “?!! Actually, it WAS typical of some of the days we have experienced during the past week because when we came out of the matinee, the sun was shining brightly and it was becoming quite hot.

I should also at this stage like to relate how I first discovered the Stratford -upon-Avon Poetry Festival. Between performances, I came across this magnificent Tudor Building not far from the theatre and Holy Trinity Church. Correct, my first encounter with Hall’s Croft. The following evening there would be a programme of poems and readings under the title of THE MAN TRAP. It was arranged by Patrick Garland and would be performed by Fenella Fielding and Max Adrian. Now I had nothing booked for the following evening but enquiries within revealed that the tickets had long been sold but ..now this WAS interesting ..if I would care to purchase a ticket and sit in the lounge, the performance would be heard there even if the actors were not seen and coffee would be served in the interval. As you may guess, I purchased a ticket and had a rather special surprise the following evening.

 What was it ? To be continued …

by Tony Boyd-Williams

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Little did I think that when I came to the RST for the first time in June 1961 to see RICHARD III with  Christopher Plummer in the title role, I would be sitting in a new auditorium with my wife fifty years’ later on the occasion of the official opening of a new and transformed theatre, and that the ceremony would be performed by Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by His Royal Highness, Prince Phillip.

What a happy and glorious occasion indeed! The entire event was splendidly organized -thanks to all concerned and (without being in any way flippant ) it was fascinating in retrospect to think that as in the film SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, it is suggested that Queen Elizabeth I MIGHT have been present at the first performance of ROMEO AND JULIET, so our own Queen DID see Sam Troughton and Mariah Gale in the “Balcony Scene “.

They both performed splendidly and the whole essence of ensemble stood out as they were loudly cheered by their colleagues.

The special plaque unveiled by Her Majesty will be positioned at the base of the Theatre Tower as a reminder of this special day. As the Royal car departed along Waterside to loud cheering, it  was clear that our splendid new building is Royal indeed.

Tony Boyd-Williams

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How splendid to be able to look back and say “I was there”. What a marvellous atmosphere in our new main house auditorium before, during and after the very first full length production on the new stage of one of William Shakespeare’s plays. The KING LEAR company did us proud indeed as they took to the stage with the panache and assurance suggesting they had been performing on it for many months.

At the end of this historic performance, much cheering and a large section of the audience on their feet. Bravo indeed !

The entire company (including all backstage members) had been working flat out with technical rehearsals earlier in the week and the evening was also a triumph for our Lighting, Sound and Automation Departments. Those of us who greatly enjoyed the special event on 15th December last  (LIGHTS SOUND ACTION) know that Vince Herbert, Jeremy Dunn and Adam Harvey – together with their colleagues, had been awaiting their opportunity to show what marvellous technical effects audiences can now expect. A  great deal of planning and expertise had been involved and to  all concerned, a bravo is due for you as well.

I now await a similarly enjoyable experience with the restaging of ROMEO AND JULIET, as well as the special effects for the new productions in our 50th Birthday celebrations. 

It is certainly going to be quite a year!

Tony Boyd-Williams

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As previously indicated, my wife and I took our eldest granddaughter to a recent matinee of MATILDA. It was her first visit to The Courtyard and she thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. The two “grown up children”  also had a marvellous time, but I think this is the secret of this wonderful show .In fact, it seems that adults are returning again and again and again. Now that IS significant!

Watching the show for the second time, it was fascinating to experience the interpretation of another talented Matilda (Adrianna Bertola) and to see the production quite literally from another angle. Last time it was from the rear of the stalls, and this time it was from the side of the circle. This meant I was nearer to marvel at the fantastic movement/choreography and also the ingenious way director Matthew Warchus has used the entire auditorium for special production moments and I’m NOT going to reveal these for those who might not yet have seen the show.

If you haven’t then I strongly advise you to make haste to book your tickets before it is a case of RETURNS ONLY for all future performances in Stratford. I say “in Stratford “, because after reading some of the marvellous press notices  it seems clear that this wonderful show will soon be joining Les Miserables as another RSC musical that will be taking the West End by storm. 

Miss Trunchbull has the now celebrated references to “winners and losers “. Here, we certainly have a winner and quite possibly the first (as suggested recently by Michael Boyd ) instance of a West End musical beginning life on a thrust stage. To all concerned – Bravo indeed!

Tony Boyd-Williams

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First Part (3)

The press night for the RSC’s  new production of Antony and Cleopatra may have been postponed, but the performance I very much enjoyed yesterday evening (20th April) confirmed what the public dress rehearsal suggested. Michael Boyd is giving us something very special with this fantastic production. The use of The Courtyard takes the audience at a swift pace through the multiple locations, whilst the modern dress outlines the clash of cultures and the sharp political edges of the story. Indeed, I do not recall  a production where the politics, exciting and at times downright dirty, are staged so effectively and with such an up to date resonance.

Darrell D’Silva may still be playing Antony with an arm in a sling but this in no way detracts from the power and panache of his performance. When Julius Caesar returns to the repertoire in July, it will be fascinating to watch the theatrical journey of this Antony.

In the same way, Kathryn Hunter gives us something very special as Cleopatra. I do not recall so much humour in her scenes or so much of a portrayal which underlined the loyalty of her court.

Above all, this Antony and Cleopatra make us fully realize their hurt and loneliness at significant moments in the play, and at the same time their unquestionable love for one another whatever the political and domestic consequences. 

Darrell and Kathryn are supported by some very strong performances from the remainder of the ensemble, a reminder that as with King Lear and Romeo and Juliet, the whole company is a tremendous edifice in which there is not one loose stone.

The set, music, lighting and costumes all play a significant part in a production “quite unparalled”.

Meanwhile we have the public understudy performance (plus that of King Lear next month). What a theatrical banquet we are being treated to in 2010!

And Part ( 2)

Those of us who were privileged to attend the Public Dress Rehearsal on Monday 12th April are not likely to forget the occasion. Michael Boyd’s witty and sensitive words of welcome beforehand reminded us not only of the commitment of Darell D’Silva in returning so soon following his injury and operation, but also of the additional commitment of Geoffrey Freshwater in preparing to understudy if need be for the dress and early previews.

In fact, commitment by the whole company was the order of the evening. Darell coped superbly with his arm in a sling, supported not only by Kathryn (Hunter) but the entire ensemble. I felt it was a fascinating, absorbing and most exciting evening.

Some friends of ours had never been to a Dress Rehearsal before, but were so impressed with what they saw that they determined to buy tickets asap for a later performance. 

Thanks also to the Box Office and others concerned at the RSC for the telephone calls and e-mails to let us know about the change to Monday’s performance -so much appreciated.

Tony Boyd-Williams, Stratford

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