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RSC unveils summer season including outdoor show and live-streamed Henry VI

The theatre is back in action – finally!

Visualisation of the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre, 2021
© RSC, design by Andy Williams

The RSC has unveiled plans for a summer season featuring outdoor shows and streamed pieces, set to arrive from June 2021.

The plans will see audiences return to watch live shows at the Stratford-upon-Avon venue for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The venue will stage an outdoor production of The Comedy of Errors, directed by Phillip Breen and taking place in the specially constructed Garden Theatre adjacent to the Swan (you can see an artist's impression above).

Running from 13 July to 26 September, the show is designed by Max Jones with lighting by Tina MacHugh, music by Paddy Cunneen, sound by Dyfan Jones, movement by Charlotte Broom and fights by Renny Krupinski. The production is sponsored by Darwin Escapes. Casting is to be confirmed.

The Comedy of Errors will then tour the UK, visiting venues including The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury from Wednesday 27 – Saturday 30 October 2021. Additional dates and venues to be announced.

In a bold departure for the venue, artistic director Gregory Doran will invite members of the public into the rehearsal room to remotely watch and speak with company members involved in a brand-new production of Henry VI Part One.

Spread over three weeks, the experience will culminate in a live-streamed online broadcast of the piece from the rehearsal room, co-directed by Doran and Owen Horsley. The show was originally meant to be seen last winter but was postponed by the pandemic.

As previously reported, the theatre's revival of The Winter's Tale will be broadcast this weekend – the first time in its 60-year history that an RSC show has had its world premiere on television.

The venue will also provide a variety of youth-orientated projects, as well as free family activities taking place on the Bancroft Terrace at the RSC.

The theatre's Riverside Cafe and Rooftop Restaurant will reopen across the summer, with the Riverside Cafe having already resumed its takeaway service.

Doran said: "As nations all over the world emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the UK theatre industry prepares to welcome in-person audiences, the RSC is re-opening by sharing our work in new, creative and surprising ways. We want to respond to our changing world and the needs of our audiences with performances and experiences outdoors and online – opening up our rehearsal rooms for the first time.

"By creating an outdoor theatre space for The Comedy of Errors we hope audiences will feel safe to return to the theatre with confidence. Our buildings will gradually come back to life during the summer through our café and restaurant, and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre will be ready for indoor performances in the autumn."

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