The Royal Shakespeare Company announced yesterday that they have made the difficult decision to postpone all events in Stratford, London and across the country due to take place in their summer season, which was due to run until 3 October.
This includes all remaining performances of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy Of Errors, which were due to open this spring.
They have also postponed or cancelled performances in the autumn and winter this year, including:
- The Wars Of The Roses Part 1 and Part 2 – postponed from autumn 2020 until autumn 2021
- New family musical The Magician’s Elephant – postponed from winter 2020 until winter 2021
- The First Encounters With Shakespeare tour of Twelfth Night – postponed until 2021
- The RSC Barbican annual residency for 2020 – cancelled
- Matilda The Musical will remain closed in line with other West End theatres
- All other events cancelled, including RSC Summer School
The RSC is looking into the possibility of re-opening the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in the autumn with both new events and rescheduled performances of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy Of Errors.
Their ability to re-open will be based on government advice on social distancing and whether it is financially viable to re-commence performances to live audiences.
The RSC have not gone dark during the lockdown, however, and have been hugely busy online, reaching out to audiences to entertain and educate while theatres have been closed.
The have partnered with BBC Culture in Quarantine to bring six of the nation’s best-loved Shakespeare titles to audiences for free between now and September, and many of their productions are available to view through BritBox and on Marquee TV.
They’ve also continued to support young people with educational resources and activities for free, including a partnership with BBC Bitesize and their initiative #RSCHomeworkHelp, which has seen actors, directors and creatives respond to the young public’s questions about Shakespeare.
Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director and Catherine Mallyon, RSC Executive Director, made a statement about the RSC’s situation:
“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% 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.”