THE RSC’s bid to retain and convert the existing Courtyard Theatre structure to create a new-style The Other Place has been successful.
Stratford District Council has agreed to the application submitted in July for the transformation of the building, affectionately known as the ‘Rusty Shed’, into the RSC’s third theatre in the town, as well as providing rehearsal rooms and storage space.
The proposals for the cast iron building – which served as the RSC’s main home during the transformation of the RST – included:
* A 200 to 300 seat studio theatre with a larger, more flexible auditorium than the old Other Place (which was 170 seats) for use by the RSC, other theatre companies and amateur groups, while also providing opportunities for occasional commercial hire and educational use;
* Two new rehearsal rooms which would allow the company to bring back actors from their current edge of town centre location;
* The relocation of the extensive costume store, opening up a rich resource of over 30,000 RSC costumes to the public for the first time through tours;
* Retention of the many positive elements of the fully-accessible current theatre, including the lift, bar and toilet facilities.
Commenting on the decision, Nigel Hugill, RSC Chairman, said: “On behalf of the entire RSC, I would like to thank Stratford District Council and, most especially, the many people in the town and beyond who gave up their time to take part in the consultation process and to express support for our proposals. Four out of five responses in favour is really unequivocal and we are most grateful.
“The decision affords us the opportunity to plan a sustainable future for a new The Other Place, offering real benefits to us, our audiences and to the town of Stratford.
“But it is only an important first step. I would like to reiterate that the Board will not sanction go ahead to the project until we have viable arrangements in place that are in no way reliant on Stratford rate payers.
“To that end, we have already made good progress in securing funding to meet the capital costs of conversion and are working hard to create an operating model with a mix of uses. Yesterday’s green light means that we can now commence those discussions in earnest.”
The Courtyard opened in August 2006. Initially only planned as a temporary structure, planning permission was in place until the end of this year. It has staged a number of events this year, including productions as part of the World Shakespeare Festival.