THE ROYAL Shakespeare Company (RSC) is preparing to welcome back live audiences to Stratford this summer.
A year on from the Covid-forced closure of theatres, audiences will get the chance to see two of its postponed 2020 Shakespeare productions – The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors.
A filmed version of The Winter’s Tale, directed by Erica Whyman, RSC deputy artistic director, will be broadcast on BBC Four around Shakespeare’s birthday in April (transmission date to be confirmed), and then available on BBC iPlayer.
The Winter’s Tale film adaptation forms part of BBC Lights Up, a season of plays for BBC TV and radio, produced in partnership with theatres across the UK and continuing BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative.
And in the summer the RSC will restart live performances in Stratford for in-person audiences, opening with an outdoor production of The Comedy of Errors, directed by Phillip Breen.
The company will stage the production in the Garden Theatre, a specially constructed outdoor performance space located in the Swan Gardens next to the Swan Theatre.
The performance schedule and box office details for The Comedy of Errors and further programming will be announced in mid-April.
Both The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors were both due to begin performances in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre last spring.
RSC artistic director Gregory Doran said: “As we approach the anniversary of the temporary closure of theatres due to the pandemic, it is fantastic to announce future plans and look ahead to audiences returning to Stratford in the summer.
“Our doors closed as The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors were preparing to open. Both productions will now be seen by audiences one year on – The Winter’s Tale on screen into people’s homes via BBC Four and BBC iPlayer, and The Comedy of Errors opening our new Garden Theatre, where audiences can return to Stratford and see Shakespeare in the open air.
“It has been an incredibly tough year for all in the industry, including our freelance colleagues who make this industry tick. Despite having to postpone and cancel productions, we have continued to share Shakespeare online and outdoors, and support young people and teachers throughout the pandemic.
“These have and will continue to be challenging times, but we look forward with optimism. The outdoor theatre gives us the security that we can perform to good sized audiences as we emerge from the pandemic and prepare for news on the government roadmap’s ‘no earlier than’ dates.
“We’ve had extraordinary support, generosity and patience from our supporters and audiences, which has been a great source of encouragement as we have navigated the ups and downs of the year. Alongside our colleagues across the industry, we will play our part in the recovery of our towns and cities and the wellbeing of our communities, and we cannot wait to welcome audiences back.”