A Shakespearian tragedy? RSC theatres not to reopen for full productions before 2021

Photo shows: Minister of State for Digital and Culture Caroline Dinenage MP visiting Gregory Doran on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage. Photo by Kate Evans © RSC
RSc Greg Dineage

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), has a confirmed that its theatres will not reopen for full productions before 2021, but activities will continue outdoors and online.

Planned performances and other ticketed events scheduled for the autumn and winter have been postponed or cancelled. More than one million visitors visit the Stratford-upon-Avon theatres each year.

A registered charity, The RSC relies on a mix of income to fund its artistic and outreach programmes. In the last financial year (2018/19) its annual income was £86.44 million. It employs more than 1,000 people.

In a statement the RSC said: “Despite our theatres being temporarily closed, our acting company continue to work on events and activity, including our programme of outdoor Shakespeare in Stratford. We will look at what other events, and online activity we can continue to provide for our audiences in the autumn and winter.”

Its Box Office team is in the process of contacting everyone who has tickets booked for all cancelled or postponed performances to discuss their options. These include the possibility of exchanging tickets to its Winter 2021 season, donating the cost of tickets, accepting an RSC Gift Voucher or arranging a full refund.

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director and Catherine Mallyon, RSC Executive Director, said“These are the most difficult times for all theatres and arts venues, whether big or small. It is incredibly sad to see our theatres and those of our partner theatres around the country closed at this time. We continue to do everything we can to bring them back to life as soon as possible, so we can welcome back our audiences to share the experience of live theatre with them. We can only do this when it is safe and when social distancing restrictions are lifted, making it financially viable for us to do so. Alongside our colleagues across the industry, we can and want to play a crucial role in the recovery of the country.

“We have had to terminate contracts and furlough 90 per cent of employees, and we continue to explore every possibility to secure income from government schemes. We are grateful for the government support to date and for the continuing generosity of our donors and audiences, and we are asking people to consider donating to give us the best possible chance of reopening. To secure the future of the RSC for everyone we need financial support until we can start earning our own income again as our reserves will not last indefinitely.

“We’re in the process of rescheduling our 2020 Winter Season, moving it from this year to 2021, whilst hoping there may be a possibility of reopening this autumn in Stratford-upon-Avon in some form. This would ideally be with our delayed summer schedule. Sadly, moving our Summer Season means we have had to take the difficult decision to cancel our Barbican residency this autumn. We are sorry to be unable to share our work with London audiences in 2020 and look forward to returning to the Barbican with some exciting plans for our season there in 2021.

“Since we closed our doors, we have received support through messages and donations from the public, our audiences and supporters. We thank everybody for those messages of support. We are also grateful for the commitment and understanding of our staff, most of whom cannot be at work now. The hunger for the arts during the crisis is there for all to see.  Theatre and the arts give strength to people in difficult times, they lift the spirits and bring a sense of community, which is desperately needed right now. We are determined to be back with live performances, and we are looking forward to when that time comes.”