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Royal Shakespeare Company to re-open for season of socially distanced and live-streamed shows

The events will be live-streamed with in-situ audiences over some nights

The RST in Stratford-upon-Avon
(© RSC, photo by David Tett)

The Royal Shakespeare Company has unveiled six weekends' worth of shows running with either live-streamed or in-theatre audiences.

The season will open on 5 December with a live-streamed event celebrating the launch of the brand new The Boy in the Dress musical cast album. Find out more about the album event here.

On 12 December, the venue will present an epic five-hour event dubbed Troy Story, directed by Gregory Doran. Featuring actors from the RSC, special guests and the story of a certain wooden horse, John Dryden and Alexander Pope's translations of the Greek classics will be mounted for spectators to watch virtually and catch up on again later.

The five parts are "The Rage of Achilles", "The Death of Hector" (spoilers), "The Wooden Horse", "Cyclops and Sirens" and "The Hero Returns". Each part will last around an hour.

On 19 and 20 December the venue will, for the first time since March, welcome around 200 spectators back for socially distanced Festive Tales evenings curated by deputy artistic director Erica Whyman (the production will also be live-streamed). The event will feature poetry from Maya Angelou alongside extracts from former festive RSC shows at the theatre including Phil Porter's The Christmas Truce and David Edgar's A Christmas Carol.

There will be BSL interpreted performances of Festive Tales on Saturday 19 December at 7pm. This will be followed by a chilled and captioned performance of Festive Tales on Sunday 20 December at 4.30pm.

In January, famed author Michael Morpurgo will read from his new book, Tales from Shakespeare, alongside a programme of in-person and online events for schools and families. There will also be a programme of performances from the RSC's Next Generation ACT company.

There'll also be a musical concert inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in January. More details about this will be revealed in December but, from what we've heard, it has some rather intriguing co-producers on board and will be the first look at a rather large-scale project that audiences may see on stage at some point soon.

Initially the full season was expected to feature in-situ audiences, but these plans have been altered by the most recent lockdown.

Doran said today: "Despite the latest lockdown announcements, we remain fully committed to producing our Winter programme of events and to sharing the joy of live performance with our audiences, whether that's back in-person or online. We are keeping the situation under close review in line with government and public health guidance and look forward to welcoming visitors as soon as it is safe to do so.

"As the global pandemic continues to prevent us being with one another in ways we could never have imagined, we need stories now, more than ever before. They help us to make sense of the world around us and to bring us together as a community, to celebrate, commiserate, reflect and rebuild."

The RSC will work with schools to provide productions on-demand, while on 25 November the RSC will stream live drama practice sessions with teachers across the UK.

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