Posts Tagged ‘RSC’

23rd February to 2nd April were marvellous weeks in RSC History. The productions of KING LEAR and ROMEO AND JULIET on our new main stage deservedly received great acclaim as did the brilliant restaging by Michael and his company of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA in the Swan. The final performance of that production was indeed a night to be proud of and to remember.

However, there were more treats in store. The YPS productions of HAMLET and THE COMEDY OF ERRORS were successfully revived, with much praise from the older members of the audiences in addition to that from the youngsters present. Both productions confirmed the riches and strengths of our 2009-2011 ensemble and underlined what splendid results are obtained when  a company stays together for such a period of time.

Secondly, this hugely talented company allowed us to see them in an entirely different light when they gave us THE RSC ENSEMBLE REVEALED. And then as if to crown it all, we had two further sensational staging’s – THE TEMPEST (a welcome return of Little Angel Theatre in association with the RSC ) and the first RSC Studio production -THE RAPE OF LUCRECE. Now this makes a total of eight events in our theatres in just over five weeks!! Certainly, a fitting start to the momentous year of our 50th Birthday Celebrations.

However, all this was just the beginning. As I write this, the ensemble are back in London for a season of new work prior to their visit to New York and the first members of our new acting ensemble are settling down with us and the previews of Macbeth and Cardenio are well under way. These early performances are proving most enjoyable, exciting and a first  rate start to the new productions which are marking our 50th Birthday Season. We are being treated to yet more outstanding acting/technical talent as well as fantastic direction from Michael and Greg.

If any readers have not yet booked for these productions, then I advise a visit to our hard working Box Office colleagues as quickly as possible. And the arrival of additional acting ensemble members for The Merchant of Venice and The City Madam companies indicates further treats are in store!

To all who have been with the RSC before, welcome back! To all who are with us for the first time, welcome indeed! We hope you all enjoy this very special time in Stratford and do please be assured of our support and best wishes.

Tony Boyd-Williams

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Something that sounds really interesting coming up over the next couple of weeks on Radio 4 – 

Over the past 10 months the RSC have been working with Radio 4’s James Naughtie and his Producer, Beaty Rubens to create a three part documentary about the Company being 50.

As part of the series James explores how the Company first came into being in 1961;  the creation of the Ensemble system;  some landmark productions and the opening production, Macbeth, in the RST.  The RSC have worked with James and Beaty to give exclusive breadth of access to the key people from the last half century including the voices of all five of the artistic directors –  Peter Hall, Trevor Nunn, Terry Hands, Adrian Noble and Michael Boyd;  as well as Peter Brook, Cicely Berry, Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart and David Tennant; plus the wider team of artists, technicians and specialists who support the actors on stage.   The transmission dates are below:

The Ensemble:            Tuesday 5th April 11.30 am

The First Ten Years:   Tuesday 12th April 11.30 am

The  New Theatre       Tuesday 19th April 11.30 am

Happy Listening   http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0101p01

by Jane Cromack

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Tim Minchin – Wow!

Just back from ‘An audience with Tim Minchin’ at the Courtyard Theatre. I can not decide who is more brilliant him or the RSC for giving him the opportunity to develop his artistic integrity and join the Matilda team.

Although I had noticed him, I had no real knowledge of his work but as was obvious from the audience he has become an obsession for many! I drove home four teenage girls who were slightly swooning over Tim but also demanding to go and see Matilda again after listening to the story of how the songs and the show developed.

 What is satisfactory is to know that because of the successful collaboration between in Tim’s words ‘the greatest theatre company in the world’ and the team put together for Matilda this particular ‘comic’ will have the confidence and backing to go on to create other artistic work for the theatre instead of becoming just another panel show guest. And he has no doubt introduced some newcomers to the joy of live theatre. Also what a fantastic and rare venue the Courtyard was for this type of evening……

Jane Cromack

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The above is indeed true of former RSC actor Pete Postlethwaite who has just died at the age of 64. I first saw him on stage in 1979 at the Buxton Festival when he played Sergeant Kite (a rich character performance) in the Bristol Old Vic’s production of THE RECRUITING OFFICER which was directed by Adrian Noble. Four years later, Adrian made his debut at the RSC with his direction of KING LEAR when the title role was taken by Michael Gambon, Antony Sher played the Fool and Pete Posthethwaite was a bluff and sadistic Cornwall.

In the same season he was a loyal and vengeful Macduff, with a return to comedy  showing superb clowning as Grumio in Barry Kyle’s Production of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. I next saw him in the 1986 season as a notable Bottom when his fellow mechanicals included David Haig and Sean Bean.

Another splendid performance in a Shakespearian role has been captured for all time with his superb Friar Laurence (both pastoral and moving) in Baz Lurhmann’s film ROMEO AND JULIET. In this special year when we celebrate 50 years since the granting of the Royal Charter to our company, we remember players like Pete Postlethwaite whose performances are  both  vivid memories and worthy to be recalled as we think of the theatrical ghosts of Stratford past. For him and other former RSC members who have strutted their hours upon the stage, the following words seem most fitting at this time :

“Fear no more the heat o’the sun,

Nor the furious winter’s rages;

Thou thy wordly task hast done,

Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages “.

by Tony Boyd-Williams

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I could not but help think of these words this morning as I walked through crisp snow along the path that now leads from Holy Trinity Church to the Theatres. Although the recent heavy fall of snow has been inconvenient for colleagues trying to get into work at the RSC or patrons trying to get to either performances of MATILDA or Theatre Tours, the severe weather certainly does reflect the winters that William Shakespeare must have known when visiting or staying with family at Wilmcote.

What further splendid images he conjures up at the end of LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST!

“And milk comes frozen home in pail”

“When birds sit brooding in the snow”

Mind you, he also talks of “When blood is nipped and ways be foul”, as a reminder that a cold winter can certainly have an uncomfortable side. I hope I do not appear as an incurable romantic, but when I gazed at the Christmas card scene between Church and Theatres, I could not but help  thinking of other splendid words used by Shakespeare to describe this special time of the year:

” Some say that ever gainst that season comes

 Wherein our saviour’s birth is celebrated.

 The bird of dawning singeth all night long… 

The nights are wholesome ..so hallowed

 And so gracious is the time “.

I hope all who read this (wherever you spend Christmas ) have a truly merry one and a very happy New Year. As we all prepare to join in the RSC’s 50th birthday celebrations, we know we have so much to look forward to, and to reflect on this my next blog will have a Janus like approach. To be continued…

Season’s greetings to all!

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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In an earlier blog, I indicated that I would write something about the production of Hamlet at the National Theatre. Here goes!

There are six RSC alumni involved including director Nicholas Hyntner and Fight Arranger Kate Waters (who has arranged the fights in our current ensemble’s King Lear ).On stage, you may see Rory Kinnear (Hamlet),Clare Higgins (Gertrude),David Calder (Polonius) and James Laurenson (Ghost and Player King).

There will be a live screening at the Picturehouse in Stratford-upon-Avon on Thursday  9th December. The performance commences at 6.45pm.

Such screenings are usually nationwide, so if you do not live in Stratford there should be a showing at a Picturehouse near you.

Definitely a case of “We’ll hear (and watch!) a play tonight  (or on Thursday!)”

 Tony Boyd -Williams

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