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FIRST LOOK: The RSC's new outdoor Garden Theatre revealed

THE Herald today reveals the first look at the RSC’s plans for its outdoor theatre in the Swan gardens this summer.

The company is releasing full details of its latest programme alongside this artist’s impression of what is to be known as the Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre.

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. The theatre is named after long-time supporters Lydia and Manfred Gorvy, who first visited the RSC in 1961.

Artistic director Gregory Doran said: “As nations all over the world emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the UK theatre industry prepares to welcome in-person audiences, the RSC is reopening by sharing our work in new, creative and surprising ways.

“We want to respond to our changing world and the needs of our audiences with performances and experiences outdoors and online.

“By creating an outdoor theatre space for The Comedy of Errors we hope audiences will feel safe to return to the theatre with confidence. Our buildings will gradually come back to life during the summer through our café and restaurant, and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre will be ready for indoor performances in the autumn.

Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre (46383906)
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre (46383906)

“The last year has taught us many things and we know that we can reach new audiences around the world through our work online. We want to build on this by inviting the public to join our rehearsal process for the first time and working in collaboration with the BBC to adapt The Winter’s Tale specifically for the screen.

“Throughout the pandemic we have continued to support and work alongside the thousands of young people and adults in the RSC community.

“Arts and culture are vital to help people to reconnect after lockdown, and our work continues across the UK with our partner theatres to support the recovery of our towns and cities. Many of those young people will join us at our Playmaking Festival, on our Garden Theatre stage and in their classrooms for the live schools’ broadcast of Macbeth.

“As our thoughts turn to new beginnings, we cannot wait to work again with our freelance colleagues and to welcome audiences back to the place where, for so many, their love of live theatre first began.”

As the Herald has reported, the summer programme begins with The Comedy of Errors, directed by Phillip Breen, running from Tuesday 13th July to Sunday 26th September.

Breen’s previous directorial credits for the RSC include The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Provoked Wife and The Hypocrite. The production is designed by Max Jones.

The Comedy of Errors and The Winter’s Tale were both due to begin performances in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre last spring and were preparing to open when the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

The screen adaptation of The Winter’s Tale, directed by deputy artistic director Erica Whyman, will be broadcast on BBC Four this Sunday at 7pm.

RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran (43513844)
RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran (43513844)

After its Stratford run, The Comedy of Errors will tour to partner theatres around the UK, including the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, in October, with additional dates and venues to be announced.

For the first time in the RSC’s history, Gregory Doran will invite audiences inside the rehearsal process for four weeks this summer, culminating in a complete rehearsal room performance of Henry VI Part One, broadcast online on 23rd June at 7pm.

Running from 1st to 25th June, Henry VI Part One: Open Rehearsal Project will see directors Doran and Owen Horsley reunite to reinvent the Henry VI plays.

The three plays were originally due to be presented in the Swan from last winter but were postponed because of the pandemic.

Don’t miss next week’s Herald for more news about the RSC summer programme.

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