Posts Tagged ‘Stratford upon Avon’

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.

Read Full Post »

I was not able to return to Stratford until 1963,but I kept in touch with the RSC by reading reviews and articles in THE STAGE plus THEATRE WORLD. Two years after my initial thrill of coming to Stratford and the RST for the first time, the thrill was experienced once more when I twice made the theatrical pilgrimage from  Cardiff. But what to see when funds dictate that this sixth former could only manage two visits ?

I HAD planned to see the first part of the now celebrated WARS OF THE ROSES cycle which was simply entitled HENRY VI, but the illness of Peter Hall meant that the production was postponed  and a performance of JULIUS CAESAR was substituted for the performance I had booked for. This CAESAR (perhaps because it was the first professional production I had seen of the play ) is still a vivid memory. Director John Blatchley gave a fast moving and almost at times cinematic interpretation, whilst eclectic costumes suggested a modern political thriller. In a programme note, John Blatchley challenged the audience to rethink that this is a play about noble  Romans by posing the question -“How many actions in the play are noble ? ” If we go back to the text, the answer is very little. This production  was therefore a milestone in my theatrical journey of discovering new interpretations of a play and also helped me to look at the play afresh, especially as it reflected world politics in 1963.

The sparse but effective set was (along with the costumes ) designed by John Bury, then an Associate Designer and the music (most martial and quite stirring )was by someone who became a well known name in the RSC and Stratford  generally -Guy Woolfenden. 

The second production I saw that season was THE TEMPEST, directed by Clifford Williams in collaboration with PETER BROOK. It reminded the audience that Shakespeare used practically all his themes in this “last play” and it was also very funny  (brilliant clowning in the Caliban/Trinculo/Stephano scenes ) and most magical with splendid sets and costumes by the then other Associate designer, Abd’Elkader Farrah. It was quite a coincidence that at the Builders’ night on the 26th November last, I met up with his son and daughter. We had a very enjoyable time recalling this production and their father’s special contribution. Very much a case of the early days of the RSC being recalled in our transformed building.

Other memories of 1963 include long term ensemble actors plus the new programmes which the company introduced that year. Such memories must await the next blog and in case you may be wondering, I have not forgotten those word of advice from former ensemble member Russell Hunter. They WILL also be included very soon!

Tony Boyd-Williams

Read Full Post »


Which places do you love?

Who would you write a sonnet about?

The RSC want to know – we’re working with the arts organisation, Curious, to gather up Stratford’s love stories.

Shakespeare’s sonnets, each fourteen lines long, are some of the most famous love poems ever written.

Your stories, alongside Shakespeare’s sonnets, will become the inspiration for a unique floating theatrical performance, created by Curious, to take place on the River Avon.

In addition, fourteen local people (and their loves) will be selected to have their portraits taken by arts photographer Hugo Glendinning, and these images will make up the 14 Lines of Love exhibition in the Swan Gallery at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Both events will take place in August.


1. Choose your place or person.
The place must be local to Stratford-Upon-Avon (within Stratford or Warwick District Council boundaries)  – it could be the sunny spot in your back garden, a favourite bench in the park or a coffee shop in town. If you’re chosen, the photograph will be of you in that place.
Or you could choose a person who is special to you.

2. Write a paragraph or two describing:
who that person or place is; what are the special things about that place or person; and why you would like a portrait of that place or person to be part of the exhibition.
You could even try writing in sonnet form if you like!

3. Send your paragraph to Nicky Cox, Events Co-ordinator, RSC, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Southern Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6BB.

Email: nicky.cox@rsc.org.uk

Read Full Post »

Something that is certainly different and should be special for you.

Put the date in your diary!!! – Sunday 27th March, Swan Theatre, 4pm (doors open from 3pm).

The RSC ensemble will be producing a gala to celebrate their extraordinary time together. All proceeds of which will go to support the needs of ensemble member, James Gale, who was diagnosed with cancer last year.

Every single member of the ensemble will take part in the gala in some capacity – and plans for the show include music, poetry, comedy, readings, dance and an Auction of Promises.

Acts include Jonjo O’Neill performing Mr Bo Jangles, Sophie Russell reprising her tap-dancing nun routine from The Comedy of Errors and the entire company of 44 actors singing on stage. The audience may also come across actors in the toilets, lifts and outside the theatre.

It should be a great afternoon out, full of entertainment and an auction of promises.

Tickets are only £10 and can be brought via the Box Office 0844 800 1110. More details about the event can be found on the RSC website.


Jane Cromack

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

On Tuesday 30th November, my mum and I joined a group of 700 RSC supporters and patrons for a special preview event at the new Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Everything about the Theatre invites you in, asks you to explore, welcomes you.  We were happy to wander through the building enjoying the ambience and the decor.  We loved the shop, the bars, the Fountain Courtyard with its beautiful spiral staircase and we had a great time looking at the art installations, pictures and memories from the RST archives.

The Reading Room next to the Swan Bar housed a poet’s work-in-progress.  Visitors were asked to add their memories of the RST to post-it notes and sheets of paper and it was lovely to read so many memories from many, many years ago.  In the corner of the Reading Room is the ‘Insult Chair’, a brilliant invention that shouts out a Shakespearian insult when you sit in it – we got: ‘your bum is the most part of you!’, not much you can say to that…

Upstairs in the Swan Room, an exhibition called ‘Transformations’ brought us the story of the building project through words, pictures, miniature models of the theatre, seat design and even upholstery choices.  It’s clear, when you look around this exhibition, just how much research and hard work went into turning a dream into reality, an incredible achievement.

Old production photographs have been enlarged to hang on walls and an installation called ‘Ghosts in the Walls’ projected a wonderful selection of black and white images from the RST archives onto the walls in the main theatre building, brought to life with quotes from the plays.

‘My RSC Gallery’ is a fascinating installation created by the public, schools, RSC staff and actors.  All around the theatre are 50 small boxes built into the walls.  Lift the lid and a miniature picture, image or collage is underneath.  Of the ones I found, my favourite: ‘Gleanings from the front row of the stalls’ by Valerie Thompson was a fascinating collection of false nails, feathers, documents, buttons and other small objects that had ended up in the stalls.  The narrative told us from which play and year each piece had been collected.

The focus of the evening was a specially produced ‘Masque for the New Theatre’. Traditionally put on in court in Shakespeare’s time, a masque was a way of celebrating a new theatre opening.  Director Gregory Doran had developed a brilliant and very funny one-off performance featuring Richard McCabe, Antony Sher, Simon Trinder, Rebecca Johnson, Alexandra Gilbreath and Claire Benedict that showcased the incredible, new main theatre stage.  We experienced thunder, lightening, fire, snow and rain and discovered the beauty of the thrust stage and seating that allows you to see from anywhere in the theatre.

Sitting in the audience on Tuesday evening, all the passion, enthusiasm and sheer hard work that went into bringing this project to fruition was clear to see.  The building is a triumph, the theatre superb.  Everything has been carefully and cleverly conceived – it’s no longer just a theatre, it’s Shakespeare’s home and legacy.  If he only knew, I’m sure he would be delighted and oh so proud!

Jane Nead

Read Full Post »

No, not my words but those of an old acquaintance who I happened to meet in our marvellous new theatre on Wednesday – the first day the RST opened to the public. I was absolutely delighted to hear these words because they indeed sum up the truly fantastic experience the RSC is able to offer .

This was my second visit on the historic day. I had arrived shortly after 9.30am to collect my new swipe card (in time for my first theatre tours on Friday) and that done I just enjoyed mingling, listening to the buzz of general excitement and admiring the commitment and enthusiasm of all RSC colleagues on duty.

 Needless to say, I made a purchase from our marvellous new shop (which deserves a special blog of its own) and was then joined by my wife for coffee in the Riverside Cafe . The coffee was superb and (following a truly splendid dinner in the Rooftop Restaurant last Friday) confirmed that the RST provides catering par excellence. Glenda (my wife) thoroughly enjoyed going around the building and whilst appreciating everything that is new, was very pleased to be able to enter the Swan Reading Room once more. A visit up the Tower is on the list for a future date (but I DID have a sneak preview during training) and I KNOW Glenda will want to come on a Theatre Tour !

My own word for summing up the day and our new RST? “WOW !!!! ” Tony Boyd-Williams

Read Full Post »

So November 24th is nearly upon us when the RST re-opens. No doubt many of you have already been in the building one way or another. I did attend the licensing event and evacuated three times from the very back row of the Swan Upper gallery!! It was wonderful to be back in the Swan and we all felt a real sense of anticipation and excitement about the re-opening.

This week I became a lady who lunches and went with three friends to the Rooftop Restaurant for a taster try out session. It felt like being in two reality shows at the same time with downstairs the 60 minute makeover fast pace of hammering, painting, wiring etc. etc.  And upstairs the Gordon Ramsey Best Restaurant show – with feedback forms analysing the food, service, what would you pay for this course, are the chairs comfy – was that a hair in my soup!

I can report that the chairs are very comfortable, the house white wine excellent, the beef main fantastic and I just regret that I did not have room to test out the deserts. (Needless to say there was no hair in the soup!)

So we await next week, I understand the press go in early in the week so watch out for their response and then it will be our turn!!!

Jane Cromack

Read Full Post »

For those of you who like to spot new talent and some more familar faces, there is a Fringe Festival of mainstream and alternative Arts, Music, Theatre, Dance and Visual Arts in Stratford next week from June 7th to 13th at venues throughout the town. Details can be found at www.stratfordfringe.co.uk For those of you who like to catch up with the alumni  you can catch Keith Osborn on Sat 12th at 2 pm at McKechnie’s cafe signing and discussing his book on his Histories blog (a free event) and David Bradley with the Forward Theatre Project at the Embassy Club on Monday June 7th at 8 pm (£5.50)

Looks like events are being added all the time so keep an eye out for last minute additions and please let us know if you think there is something of interest we should know about.

Read Full Post »

The fundraising campaign to Transform our Theatres steps up in its final year. There is £5.5m left to raise to reach the RSC’s Campaign goal of £112.8m

Having received three significant gifts totaling £3.6m as well as further funds through our ongoing successful Public Appeal, the RSC has raised a total of £107.3m.

With one year to go before the Campaign will close,  the fundraising and appeal must push on to help raise the final £5.5m. With the help of some RSC Alumni the RSC Development Team have created a trailer We’re Coming Home to highlight the urgency and invite people to play their part in reaching our final goal.

If you would like to make a donation towards the Appeal please visit the RSC website

Find out more about the Transformation at www.rsc.org.uk/transformation

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »