The Royal Shakespeare Company will return to London’s Roundhouse, the scene of its triumphant staging of The Histories in 2008, for a 10-week season from December 2010.
The run at the North London venue will once again see a thrust stage auditorium specially constructed to house the RSC’s shows. While the exact productions that London audiences will see has not yet been revealed, RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd has confirmed that at least eight of the current ensemble’s productions will transfer for the Roundhouse season. These could include the 2009 productions of As You Like It, The Winter’s Tale and Julius Caesar along with new Russian pieces The Drunks and The Grain Store, and 2010’s productions of King Lear, Romeo And Juliet, Antony And Cleopatra and Morte D’Arthur.
In addition to staging the RSC shows, the Roundhouse will also work with the theatre company on outreach programmes including a poetry slam, a digital media project and creating a youth theatre company to tour a Shakespearean piece.
The announcement was made at a press briefing earlier today where Boyd and Executive Director Vikki Heywood confirmed that the Roundhouse season, and the upcoming run of Twelfth Night at the ATG-owned Duke of York’s theatre, does not signal an end to the company’s previous agreement with Delfont Mackintosh, which has seen the RSC stage a number of productions in its theatres. The agreement still has time to run and could well be ongoing.
The RSC’s work will also be seen in London in 2012, as part of the World Shakespeare Festival. Though the project is still in development, it is hoped that it will both encourage international collaborations and challenge the gulf between professional and amateur theatre.
Though the company’s presence in London has been strong in recent years, theatregoers hoping for the return of a permanent RSC London home still have longer to wait. The project will be held until the redevelopment of the RSC’s Stratford theatres is completed and funds are available. This could, however, be earlier than expected as the rebuilding of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is on time, with the theatre set to open to the public at the end of next year and the first productions due to take to its stages in February 2011.
A new musical production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, featuring songs by musical comic Tim Minchin, will also be part of the RSC’s repertoire during 2010.
Today’s announcements by the RSC come at the end of a strong year for the Stratford-upon-Avon-based company. Its annual report reveals that it sold over 530,000 tickets and played to 85% capacity in Stratford, London and on tour, with 5% of the audience made up of first time theatre visitors.
Speaking about the year’s results during a time of recession, Boyd said: “The one thing that has, if anything, got stronger in hard times is the appetite of audiences for good theatre. The sociable act of gathering in the same space to share an imaginative journey, through real time, with performers and other audience members is proving more attractive than ever.”