World ? Europe ? England ? Stratford-upon-Avon

Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford

Stratford's Courtyard Theatre - the Royal Shakespeare Company's home from home. Photo courtesy RSC

Hours: Various; plays in repertoire
Cost: Various
Few places have as famous a son as Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace William Shakespeare (aka "the Bard"). Together with museums dedicated at his birthplace and his wife's house, this delightful Cotswold town is home to the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Without doubt one of the world's greatest ensembles, the RSC is in a period of change. In April 2007 its main home, the 1932, Elisabeth Scott-designed Art Deco Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (latterly the Royal Shakespeare Theatre), closed for major refurbishment which will create, within the outside confines of Scott's building, a thrust stage, very much like Shakespeare may have recognised. Following on from the company's Complete Work's festival (April 2006 - June 2007), the main focus of the company's work has transferred to the Courtyard Theatre, which has been built as a temporary space (not that you'd realise it was temporary when you're inside it) on the opposite side of the road to the riverside Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

After Sir Ian McKellen's first King Lear (which brought the Complete Works festival to a close), artistic director Michael Boyd completed his history cycle, mounting the first four plays in the cycle - Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, and Henry V - before bringing the already opened final four in the cycle (Henry VI Parts 1, 2 & 3 and Richard III), to run as a complete cycle both at the Courtyard Theatre and at London's Roundhouse Theatre.

After the excitement of David Tennant's Hamlet, the Royal Shakespeare Company is now embarking on a second ensemble of actors, together for over two years, which will not only perform Shakespeare, but also programme plays from and about Russia, as well as continue its commitment to new writing.

Founded in 1960 by Peter Hall, the Royal Shakespeare Company has built on an impressive history of performances in Shakespeare's birthplace since late Victorian times. The Royal Charter had been bestowed on the Memorial Theatre company in 1925 (a year before the original theatre was destroyed by fire), and when the new company was founded it was natural to be called the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).
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