RSC axes Swan season and furloughs staff

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RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran

ALL performances at the Royal Shakespeare Company have been cancelled until at least the end of June, the company has announced.

And the Swan Theatre – the RSC’s second venue at its Waterside base in Stratford – is to remain closed until at least the autumn.

An entire season of work in the Swan, under the umbrella title Projekt Europa, has been axed, including a new production of Peer Gynt, while a main-house production of Shakespeare’s little-performed play Pericles has been postponed. In London, Matilda the Musical – which began life in Stratford in 2010 – remains in shutdown until the end of May at least.

In a joint statement, artistic director Gregory Doran and executive director Catherine Mallyon said: “This is a situation without parallel for all, and the health of the public and our staff continues to be our number one priority. It is incredibly sad to see our stages empty, productions cancelled and our buildings closed. In particular the remarkable Projekt Europa, involving so many creative artists from across Europe, is a huge loss. We have considered this very carefully, but it is sadly unavoidable.”

The company has also revealed it is putting the majority of its staff on furlough under the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.

The statement added: “As a registered charity we rely on a mix of income to fund our activity, from the productions on stage to the important work we do with over 500,000 young people, and our partner schools and theatres around the country. We ask that anyone able to do so considers donating the value of their tickets – in full or in part – to help support the company to continue this work.”

Audiences can enjoy past productions from the RSC on a 30-day free trial with Marquee TV, an on-demand streaming service for arts and culture. This Saturday, as reported in this week’s Herald – out today (Thursday) – Marquee will be showing the 2017 production of Twelfth Night, starring Adrian Edmondson.

The RSC is also teaming up with the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine initiative to broadcast six previous shows between now and September.