THE ROYAL Shakespeare Company (RSC) has postponed all performances for the rest of the year.
The pandemic had seen the Stratford-based company initially decide to postpone productions until the end of June, but the “difficult decision” has now been taken to cancel all of the planned programme for 2020.
In a joint statement, artistic director Gregory Doran and executive director Catherine Mallyon said: “These are the most difficult times for all theatres and arts venues, whether big or small. It is incredibly sad to see our theatres and those of our partner theatres around the country closed at this time. We continue to do everything we can to bring them back to life as soon as possible, so we can welcome back our audiences to share the experience of live theatre with them. We can only do this when it is safe and when social distancing restrictions are lifted, making it financially viable for us to do so. Alongside our colleagues across the industry, we can and want to play a crucial role in the recovery of the country.
“We have had to terminate contracts and furlough 90 per cent of employees, and we continue to explore every possibility to secure income from government schemes. We are grateful for the government support to date and for the continuing generosity of our donors and audiences, and we are asking people to consider donating to give us the best possible chance of reopening. To secure the future of the RSC for everyone we need financial support until we can start earning our own income again as our reserves will not last indefinitely.
“We’re in the process of rescheduling our 2020 Winter Season, moving it from this year to 2021, whilst hoping there may be a possibility of reopening this autumn in Stratford-upon-Avon in some form. This would ideally be with our delayed summer schedule. Sadly, moving our Summer Season means we have had to take the difficult decision to cancel our Barbican residency this autumn. We are sorry to be unable to share our work with London audiences in 2020 and look forward to returning to the Barbican with some exciting plans for our season there in 2021.
“Since we closed our doors, we have received support through messages and donations from the public, our audiences and supporters. We thank everybody for those messages of support. We are also grateful for the commitment and understanding of our staff, most of whom cannot be at work now. The hunger for the arts during the crisis is there for all to see. Theatre and the arts give strength to people in difficult times, they lift the spirits and bring a sense of community, which is desperately needed right now. We are determined to be back with live performances, and we are looking forward to when that time comes.”
Ticket buyers will be contacted directly by RSC box office staff in performance date order rotation to discuss their donation (to Keep Your RSC), refund and exchange options. Customers will be contacted no later than during the week they were due to visit and are asked to not contact the box office at this time.
While physically closed to audiences and visitors, the company’s online performance, event and education activity continues including:
*Partnering with BBC Culture in Quarantine to bring six of the nation’s best-loved Shakespeare plays to audiences for free between now and September.
* Free educational activities and resources for any young person in the country including #RSCHomeworkHelp and a partnership with BBC Bitesize Online.
* Productions to view on Marquee TV, the on-demand streaming service for arts and culture and through BritBox.
Visit www.rsc.org.uk/at-home-with-shakespeare for further details.