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New RSC garden stage takes shape – but not everyone is happy

THE Royal Shakespeare Company’s new Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre started to take shape this week as work began on the seating.

The specially-built performance space occupies the stretch of gardens immediately behind the Swan Theatre, flanked by the River Avon, and will initially host a postponed production of Shakespeare’s play The Comedy of Errors, which runs from 13th July and is directed by Phillip Breen. The theatre is named after long-time supporters Lydia and Manfred Gorvy, who first visited the RSC in 1961.

The RSC’s outdoor theatre is now taking shape. Photo: Mark Williamson R29/6/21/0238. (48508153)
The RSC’s outdoor theatre is now taking shape. Photo: Mark Williamson R29/6/21/0238. (48508153)

The RSC has been criticised on the letter pages of the Herald recently, with questions asked about why the company has not been more proactive in opening up its indoor spaces, such as its shop and restaurant, RST and Swan theatres.

This week RSC artistic director Gregory Doran and executive director Catherine Mallyon robustly defend their operational strategy during the pandemic – see this week's Herald, page 16.

Meanwhile as photos of the construction of the new theatre were shared on social media, opinions differed on how welcome it was.

In praise of the new temporary addition, Kathy Hampden said on ‘Stratford now and then’ Facebook group: “People are always finding something to moan about and criticise. I think it’s a super idea and I’m excited to attend the first performance. I think it’s great. The RSC owns the land and two generous patrons are funding the project. There’s plenty of other green space to enjoy in the locale.”

Jo Mattinsley said that she had met many of the RSC actors while volunteering in the Covid test centre on Waterside and people should be pleased for them “as they are so excited” about the new stage.

However, Sue York thought the RSC “should open the main house with social distancing rather than putting an ugly structure on a green space”

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