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Shakespeare's Birthday Fireworks

Join us on Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday on 23 April for a magnificent free firework display.

Taking inspiration from Ben Jonson’s description of William Shakespeare as our ‘Star of Poets’,  we will launch our Shakespeare birthday festivities with a free fireworks display from the top of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Emergency Exit Arts, one of the country’s leading pyrotechnic creatives, brings you a stunning display inspired by Shakespeare’s greatest themes – love, treachery, joy, conflict and life’s triumph over death. The display will conclude with an astonishing depiction of Shakespeare’s face, lit up in flames.

Alive with music and sound, Stratford-upon-Avon will be spectacularly illuminated from our Waterside home.

Arrive at the Bancroft Gardens from 10.30pm.
The display will start at approximately 10.40pm.

There are still tickets available for Henry IV Part I on 23 April – why not go along to the show beforehand?

Find out more about the Fireworks

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As this is a very special year in RSC History, I thought I would write a series of blogs with my thoughts and reactions linking 1961 to 2011.To be honest, I have to declare an interest because as some of you know, this year marks 50 years of my first coming to Stratford and seeing an RSC production.

Inevitably, at the age of 15 it was a school visit, on a beautiful June day and the play was RICHARD III. Surprising as it may seem, I did not really know much about the RSC then, nor did I appreciate that it was a special year as the Royal Charter had  been granted. I was just excited at the prospect of seeing the play at the theatre in William Shakespeare’s home town and being one of a generation brought up on seeing Laurence Oliver’s portrayal on film of the hunchback king, to be able to see a live performance of this exciting history play.

I still recall the thrill of turning from Sheep Street into Waterside and seeing the RST for the first time. THIS was the mecca of all theatrical pilgrims and 50 years on, I experience that thrill every time  I see our transformed home. The 1932 foyer seemed absolutely amazing in size compared to that of the New Theatre, Cardiff, which was then the theatre I was used to visiting.  Today the Scott Bar reminds me of the awe and wonder I felt seeing the Art Deco for the first time and THAT special box office. If someone had told me then that 50 years on, I should have the privilege of standing there as a theatre guide with colleagues and being able to share this special space with visitors from all over the world !

I was also intrigued to be able to purchase from the then small shop copies of the SHAKESPEARE MEMORIAL THEATRE POSTCARD SERIES which presented all the world -famous players who had acted at  Stratford since 1948. I have since found out that there were 34 cards in the series and I was indeed spoiled for choice but plumped for Laurence Olivier as Macbeth and Anthony Quayle as Falstaff. What else? A programme of course. The latter cost one shilling and was really just an official cast list within the now celebrated red cover with the new company logo by Lilia De Nobili (remember that swan ?).

Even so, I was soon to see the play and  make my way to the Balcony entrance. Like so many theatregoers, I am delighted that the old Balcony door is still to be seen because it became the portal leading to so much theatrical pleasures and magic. As for the performance itself ?  Yes, I know “the play’s the thing ” and the performance that so enthralled me 50 years ago will be the subject of the next blog

Tony Boyd-Williams.

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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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