Restaurant fortnight planned to support businesses

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A new restaurant fortnight is being launched in Stratford next month to support food businesses amid concerns that they may suffer during the period the RSC main theatre is dark.

This year, in preparation for the RSC’s hotly anticipated show ‘The Boy in the Dress’ the main theatre will be out of action until 8th November.

It is an unusually long break between shows and Stratforward have been trying to prepare businesses for a potentially difficult period.

The organisation believes that Stratford may lose as many as 7,000 visitors per week during this time, but wants to give food orientated businesses a helping hand with its Stratford Feasts event.

The event will not involve the closure of any roads, but local restaurants are being encouraged to host events and launch special offers, which Stratforward will then heavily promote.

It will take place between 4th-20th October, while a Spring Feasts event is planned from 6th-22nd March.

Joe Baconnet, director of Stratforward BID, said: “The theatre will go dark for a long time, it’s not been that long for quite a few years. We have been talking to businesses about this throughout the year, trying to prepare them for any impact. It’s likely that the food businesses will be most affected, but I would expect it may take a few weeks to see if there has been much of an impact.

“The theatre has gone dark in the past and perhaps businesses have not looked at their takings and put two and two together before, but we decided to organise Stratford Feasts as a way of supporting businesses, particularly food businesses over what could potentially be a more difficult time. Of course with the uncertainty over Brexit, businesses may also have other worries on their mind.”

Catherine Mallyon, Royal Shakespeare Company executive director, said: “We have a busy few months ahead, with the Royal Shakespeare Theatre playing host to our Live at the RSC Comedy Festival – presented in partnership with Underbelly – featuring 22 of the country’s best comedians, between 12 – 21 September.

“In the Swan Theatre, after we say goodbye to The Provoked Wife and Venice Preserved this Saturday (7 Sept), King John will open on Friday 19 September, followed, from 11 October, by A Museum in Baghdad. The Rooftop Restaurant, the Riverside and Swan cafes, our exhibition The Play’s The Thing, together with Susie’s Café Bar at The Other Place will remain open throughout. And our popular theatre tours, along with a range of family events and activities, will also be on offer.

“Once the Comedy Festival is over, we will be preparing for the world premiere of our new musical, The Boy in the Dress, based on David Walliams’ book.

“This exciting new production, adapted by Mark Ravenhill, and with music and lyrics by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers, previews from 8 November 2019.  A musical like The Boy in the Dress is a major undertaking for the Company, and requires a longer preparation period than normal owing to the scale of the production.  We keep our dark periods as short as we possibly can. Not only do we hope to have busy buildings all the time, but we also recognise that visitors and full houses are important for other businesses in the town.

“Our forthcoming season promises to offer something for all, and, as always, we look forward to welcoming everyone to our theatres.”

Food businesses are currently being encouraged to submit their ideas for events and special offers during Stratford Feasts to Stratforward.