The Royal Shakespeare Company’s President, HRH The Prince of Wales, joined RSC Board Members, Governors and Honorary Governors at the Company’s Annual General Meeting, which covered the financial year 2019 – 2020. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic this year’s AGM took place on Friday 6 November as a closed meeting with only formal business taking place.
Joining the RSC’s Chair, Nigel Hugill, Artistic Director, Gregory Doran and Executive Director, Catherine Mallyon, HRH The Prince of Wales spoke about his passion for theatre and live performance and offered his ongoing support to the RSC and wider theatre industry as they continue to face the ongoing impact of the crisis.
HRH The Prince of Wales said: “It’s only when you haven’t got access to arts and cultural activities that you realise how much you miss them and also that you realise just how much of an impact that must be having on all of those wonderful people who are part of the great theatrical community, whose whole lives and livelihoods revolve around being able to express their talent and their art.
I wanted to say, more than anything else, how much admiration I have for the amazing resilience and professionalism of the Company as it deals with the most challenging period possible in its history and I want to congratulate everybody involved, from every corner of the RSC, for managing to continue to produce performance of some kind in such difficult circumstances.
I wish the company every success and the swiftest possible return to some sort of normality as the nation recovers from this extraordinarily difficult period, when the Royal Shakespeare Company’s inspiration will be needed more than ever”.
HRH The Prince of Wales also spoke of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘invaluable contribution to the nation’s cultural life’ and his admiration for the RSC’s ongoing efforts to support young people and teachers around the country during the crisis through initiatives such as the Shakespeare Learning Zone website and the Homework Help appeal which saw over 100,000 young people receive advice on performing and studying Shakespeare in home and in the classroom from RSC Actors and alumni.
RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, spoke of the work achieved by the Company and the many different productions that were playing, and projects that were being worked on when theatres were closed in March at the end of the financial year, plus the ongoing challenges the Company continues to face. He also praised the work of the RSC team, its freelance community and many supporters.
Commenting on the year 2019/2020, Artistic Director Gregory Doran said: “At the point at which our theatres were forced to close in March, we were in Newcastle Theatre Royal with Measure for Measure, As You Like It, and The Taming of the Shrew on our UK tour.
In Stratford, the get-out of The Boy in the Dress was underway, and a West End transfer was planned. The company in the Swan Theatre were in the last week of The Whip and King John, with the third play in that repertoire A Museum in Baghdad due to have a London run at The Kiln Theatre. In The Other Place, Projekt Europa was in the final stages of rehearsals. At the Cambridge Theatre, Matilda The Musical was to move into its tenth year in the West End, while at the Ambassadors Theatre Kunene and the King was entering its last fortnight of performances.
With memorable successes for the Company in 2019/2020, it is particularly important to acknowledge the exceptional work of so many people, and the ongoing support of our funders and donors that has been so clearly demonstrated and welcomed since the pandemic began.
We want to welcome our audiences back, to re-open again and to help our regional and wider economy rebuild itself, bringing people back into our towns and cities and we want our brilliant workforce, permanent and freelance, to be back doing what they do best, making live theatre.
We will continue to respond creatively to the ongoing crisis and look forward with optimism to 2021 when our postponed productions of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors finally make it to the stage, and for Matilda The Musical to re-open at the Cambridge Theatre alongside other shows to reignite the vital West End economy.”
During the AGM Gregory Doran also spoke of the company’s extensive performance, event and education activity which continues to take place online whilst the RSC remains closed to in person audiences. Initiatives discussed included the Share Your Shakespeare digital project inviting audiences to play their part in keeping the work of Shakespeare alive under lockdown, launched in collaboration with the Folger Library in the US, Shakespeare Snapshots, the RSC’s programme of outdoor Shakespeare in Stratford, which proved incredibly popular with audiences throughout August and September and the broadcast of six RSC titles as part of the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine programme which were viewed by 1 million people during the summer of 2020.
Gregory Doran also spoke of the company’s intention to welcome back visitors as soon as it was safe to do so this Winter with small-scale socially distanced performances in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The performances will also be streamed into homes to enable audience from further afield to join with details soon to be announced.
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