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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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Well how very exciting that all was – hope you were able to work the red button on the Beeb and enjoyed the show. A fantastic evening for the RSC indeed – Congratulations to all those involved: –

‘RSC’s stage version of children’s novel takes record seven prizes at UK theatre’s most prestigious awards ceremony

The Royal Shakespeare Company show, based on Roald Dahl‘s 1988 children’s novel, had been nominated in 10 categories and was easily the biggest winner on the night.

Matilda’s success meant the RSC beat its own record for the number of Oliviers won by one show, previously held by Nicholas Nickleby, which won six in 1980.’

For details see http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2012/apr/15/matilda-the-musical-dominates-oliviers?newsfeed=true

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Following yesterdays announcement that Greg has been appointed the new Artistic Director – what great news for one and all –

Many congratulations from RSC Friends!

Gregory Doran named as RSC chief

Gregory Doran
Gregory Doran is to take over from Michael Boyd as artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Doran, who joined the company 25 years ago – as an actor – is currently chief associate director at the RSC.
Boyd said he was “pleased to be leaving the Company in such good hands”. “He is a first rate director, and nobody knows and loves the company more than him.”
Doran hailed his “long-term commitment … to the astonishing plays of our ‘Star of Poets’, William Shakespeare”.
Doran – who won an Olivier award for outstanding achievement for the RSC’s season of Jacobean plays in 2002 – will take over from Boyd in September.
“I am delighted to be appointed as artistic director of this great company,” said Doran.
“Michael Boyd and Vikki Heywood have done an exceptional job in the last decade, rebuilding the theatre and reasserting the principles of ensemble and collaboration, which I hope to continue and extend.”
“My first task is to assemble an exciting new artistic team, with whom I shall start planning the Company’s future from 2014.”
‘True commitment’
RSC Chairman Nigel Hugill paid tribute to Doran’s “deep understanding of Shakespeare and a true commitment to theatre-making”.
Critically acclaimed productions for the RSC include Patrick Stewart and Harriet Walter in Anthony and Cleopatra in 2006, and Love’s Labour’s Lost, starring David Tennant, in 2008.
Doran was also instrumental in bringing his 2000 production of Macbeth – starring his partner Anthony Sher in the title role – to Channel 4, while his 2008 production of Hamlet, starring David Tennant, was broadcast on the BBC.
His predecessor Boyd is credited with reviving the fortunes of the RSC which was debt-written and demoralised when he took over in 2002.
Success stories include his year-long Complete Works festival in Stratford-upon-Avon, and the award-winning musical Matilda, which transferred to London’s West End last year.
He also oversaw the £112m renovation project to the Stratford-upon-Avon theatres and the RSC’s 50th birthday.

 

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Written to be Heard
Holy Trinity Church
Thursday 1 March
7.30pm
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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It was a delight, on Saturday, to watch and listen to the script/in/hand reading of The Hang of the Gaol in the wonderful Ashcroft Room. This superb play about corruption in a British prison so brilliantly written by Howard Barker was first performed by the RSC in 1978.

It never stops to amaze us how these readings can create such an enthralling atmosphere. This play, red/hot and not at risk of losing its topicality any time soon was no exception. Forbes Masson led the audience through hatred and sympathy with just the tiniest tilts of his voice but major kudos too to Stephanie Street and Rebecca Johnson and who could not love Matthew Wilson as Turk and Ricky Champ and Neal Barry, the two “Screws”. And wow to Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Sam Alexander and Oliver Ryan fabulous performances. Yes, it was great to listen to both of them, who together with Joseph Arkley and naturally Forbes were recent Ensemble actors here.

We were also impressed with John Stahl as the Home Secretary and keep asking ourselves who this was meant to be. Who was HS at the time? It was a really good idea to have this on at the same time as Marat Sade which we recommend. Thank you RSC

by David and Ingrid (Stevens)

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Being so pleased with the stage and auditorium evolved from the Swan and Courtyard Theatres which has resulted in our new brilliant thrust style stage and one room space at the RST, we were a bit unsure of how we would re-act to our first proscenium arch theatre event for quite some time.

Armed with the knowledge that David Tennant was such a good Hamlet at The Courtyard we went on an away day to London. The Wyndham’s in the middle of Theatre-land is beautifully maintained and has a charming atmosphere. But, the first thing that struck us was the uncomfortable seats. They were certainly not as comfortable, roomy or with as much leg room as the RST- we had top class seats mind you and really those who have problems with some of the narrower seats at the RST should just visit another theatre like we did and then appreciate the RST version.

We did, however, enjoy the production albeit there is no doubt about it, in our minds, that it would have been better if it had been carried out by an RSC Ensemble. There is non-stop action and the fun factor was nearly as good as at Stratford. It’s hard to miss the sexual aspects of the play and Tennant and Tate do a fine job leaving no-one in any doubt regarding the double meanings. David Tennant was excellent and clearly enjoyed carrying out slapstick. However, he alone appeared to be in tune with the audience – probably as a result of his tenure with the RSC. Catherine Tate was quite good in parts, very funny but not always our ideal for the part of Beatrice.

The Director used 1980s Gibraltar for the setting. It was typical of the British military presence, on the Rock, where partying was the norm. With this in mind it helped in the trickery regarding Benedick and Beatrice. Perhaps the remaining class differences in British society are most evident within the military and the superb Navy uniforms were used to great effect. The Director, Josie Rourke made a change to the original players by giving Leonato a wife instead of a brother. Very well staged was the pre wedding party where Margaret (wearing Hero’s wig) has a vivid and noisy sex scene with Borachio which left little to the imagination.

One great strength of the production was that the non stop action was helped by the stage which kept revolving. There was a wonderful scene where decorators were working and it was not clear why. Suddenly it was obvious as later Tennant was covered in paint and Tate was hoisted up on a pulley. We still could not help thinking that Shakespeare is by far better if one uses the one room auditorium and a thrust stage.  Yes it was worth going to watch and very enjoyable but we left so glad that the RST and Swan Theatres are walking distances away from our house.

David and Ingrid Stevens

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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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