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Posts Tagged ‘Swan Theatre’

In the true spirit of collaboration without which theatre would not exist, on the subject of Thomas Hardy’s poetry (with a smattering of prose) the passion and intellect of Oliver Ford-Davies, the scholarship of Bruce Alexander, the vocal dexterity and enthusiasm of Marty Cruikshank, the heavenly tones of The Pentateuchs – the singers from ‘Written on the Heart’, have been harnessed to present, for one night only, ‘Thomas Hardy, Poems Said and Sung’.

It will take place on Sunday 19th February in the Swan Theatre at 7pm, last approx 80 mins and tickets are on sale from the RSC box office.

Time for a few drinks and a bite afterwards, and what’s more it’s in aid of The Shakespeare Hospice, and Andrew Nicklin as MD has managed to bring together a twelve piece ensemble, including the harpist from Covent Garden Opera, to accompany the singers.

So book your tickets now…..http://www.rsc.org.uk/buy-tickets/select.aspx?performanceNumber=15590

 

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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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 Cardenio: a challenge‏ for you

Last Saturday, I attended a very interesting “conversation” between, the Friends’ own, Greg Doran and Tiffany Stern and chaired by Paul Edmondson at the Shakespeare Centre about “Cardenio”. Fortunately, it was recorded, so you can listen to the first half at http://bloggingshakespeare.com/listen-to-cardenio-in-conversation.  During that conversation, Greg admitted he had used two lines from Hamlet that none of the critics had spotted, so my challenge is: can anyone out there find it? Get checking!

News on Geoffrey

Fans of Geoffrey Streatfeild are in for a double treat next week as he’s appearing in TWO Afternoon Plays on Radio 4 at 2.15pm. The first, “Success Story” on Monday 20th, is about an actor on the brink of stardom when his past catches up with him. In the second, “Playing for his Life”, Geoff is a German tennis player who offends Hitler. Make sure you tune in!

 Happenings at Hampstead Theatre‏

Not content with putting on 3 new works and preparing for a season in New York, the old RSC company are also performing 4 plays in the Michael Frayn Space, in their spare time, and with a little help from some friends such as David Fielder, Martin Turner and Marjorie Yates. Sadly, for most of us, the plays (Mojo, The Bullet, The Price (Miller) and Ahaseverus) are only available for an invited audience but, I have seen one play, in my capacity as an usher, and I’m pleased to say that the production values and performances are to the RSC’s normal high standards. Shame that more people can’t enjoy them!

by Geraldine Caulfield

BUT – Happily you can see Dunsinane at the Swan Theatre, Stratford upon Avon now until July 2nd. First performed at Hampstead last year – I went to see it last night and thought it was very good – well written, thought provoking, great casting and music and funny which was unexpected. I highly recommend it.

by Jane Cromack

And just to add..

 

Some thoughts on DUNSINANE…..The opening night was marvellous. There was a great script from David Greig, super direction by Roxana Silbert and what a cast and set. Well done in particular Siobhan Redmond and Jonny Phillips. Congratulations to the National Theatre of Scotland

 

Enjoyed a chat with Tony-Boyd-Williams after the show about the merits of the play and how true it was of events happening today. I slept well but woke up, at 6.am, thinking about Dunsinane. I picked up the wonderful programme which includes the script and re-examined it. This is clearly a play that should be seen by all modern politicians and make them think hard about certain situations they place our commanding officers when involved in a country other than their own. If only one or two took note of this perhaps they would not be so prepared to make questionable and hasty decisions. It was clear to me that Jonny Phillips, as Siward, had given considerable thought regarding the role and he captured the part very adeptly and showing  the strengths and failings of even the most competent of COs when receiving instructions from weaker, greedier and ambitious superiors.

 

The horror and ethics of fighting a war that is not your own concern, in an alien country, is as topical today as it was then. Scotland? Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya? Where next?

 

There was humour, which was superb and typical of people placed in impossible situations, and the dialogue between Malcolm (portrayed rather well by Brian Ferguson) on the Throne ,at the Great Hall, in Dunsinane very early in the play was both humorous and thought provoking. Indeed this is a play that you will think about for many days after.  If you have not booked to see this production, you should.

 

by David Stevens

 

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We went to the Opening Performance on the 14th April, 2011 and loved every moment of the production. Such inspirational casting- Lucy Briggs-Owen and Oliver Rix. I was really impressed by Christopher Godwin as Don Camillo. The music was wonderful and what a beautiful ending with music and dance. Well done Greg Doran. Our thanks to you for re-imagining the “lost play”, a fantastic achievement. This was a really memorable evening and a superb way to celebrate the re-opening of the lovely Swan Theatre.

……..And so we went to see Cardenio again on the Saturday evening, having so enjoyed the wonderful and informative talk by Greg Doran in the morning to Friends. It was even better the second time and sitting in a different part of the theatre appreciated even more the performance of Pippa Nixon as Dorotea. Superb.

People go the theatre for different reasons, hopefully to enjoy the performance. Certainly we did with Cardenio. Fully recommend it. We will go again!

by David Stevens, RSC Friends

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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.

http://www.rsc.org.uk/about-us/press/james-gale.aspx

Jane Cromack

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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

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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

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