Coriolanus Closes RST Before Three-year RebuildDate: 6 March 2007
Gregory Doran’s new Royal Shakespeare Company staging of Coriolanus opens to the press tonight (6 March 2007, previews from 22 February) in Stratford-upon-Avon, the final production in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre before the closure of the Grade II-listed 1932 building (marking its 75th anniversary in 2007) for a three-year, £100 million transformation (See News, 20 Nov 2006).
In September 2004, the RSC officially scrapped controversial plans put in place by former RSC artistic director Adrian Noble to demolish its Grade II-listed Royal Shakespeare Theatre (See News, 22 Sep 2004). Instead, a new 1,030-capacity auditorium will be created within the existing 1932 riverside building, which currently seats 1,400. Once redesigned, the distance from the furthest seat to the stage will be reduced from the current 27 metres to 15 metres.
According to RSC artistic director Michael Boyd, the RST’s new, more intimate thrust-stage auditorium will “marry truth and epic” (See News, 14 Jun 2006). The revitalised building will include expansion of both front of house (more disabled access, bar, restaurants, toilet and exhibition space) and backstage facilities (improved dressing rooms, technical and support areas).
William Houston (pictured) takes the title role in Coriolanus, which also stars Janet Suzman as Volumnius and, returning to the RSC after a 31-year absence, Timothy West as Menenius. The epic drama, which is also the penultimate in-house production in the RSC’s year-long Complete Works Festival, continues until 31 March 2007.
Performances began last summer in the temporary, 1000-seat Courtyard Theatre, a prototype version of the new RST, which will be Stratford’s main house auditorium during the construction period, hosting Boyd’s own two-and-a-half year Histories project.
With the closure of the RST, the RSC will perform its upcoming Christmas shows at a non-traditional performance space, Stratford-upon-Avon’s Civic Hall in Rother Street. Noughts and Crosses - adapted and directed from Malorie Blackman’s novel by former RSC associate director (and now Olivier Award-winning Royal Court artistic director) Dominic Cooke - and Little Angel Theatre’s production of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox will play there in rep from 28 November 2007 to 2 February 2008.
Noughts and Crosses, reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, is a modern-day tale of star-crossed lovers set in a surreal world where you are either a ‘nought’ with white skin or a ‘cross’ with dark skin. Violence ensues when the two try to mix. It has a press night on 6 December 2007, and runs in rep from 28 November 2007 to 2 February 2008.
London-based puppet company Little Angel Theatre, who recently collaborated with the RSC to create the puppet adaptation of Shakespeare’s poem Venus and Adonis, presents Fantastic Mr Fox. The show has a press night on 20 December 2007, and runs in rep from 19 December 2007 to 5 January 2008.
Meanwhile, Nancy Meckler’s acclaimed production of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, which played at the RST in 2005/6, will embark on a UK tour this autumn. The comedy, revived with a new company, will open at The Lowry in Salford on 19 October 2007, and will tour to Bradford, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Cardiff, Bath and Norwich, where it concludes on 8 December 2007. Casting details have yet to be confirmed.
- by Terri Paddock & Caroline Ansdell