Shakespeare company to resume shows for audiences in outdoor theatre

FILE PHOTO: A general view is seen from the tower at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon
A general view is seen from the tower at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain, March 22, 2019.
REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company will resume performances for live audiences in a specially constructed outdoor theatre in the summer, beginning with a production of “The Comedy of Errors”, it said on Friday.

The RSC, based in playwright William Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon, plans to stage shows in the Garden Theatre, located in the gardens outside its Swan Theatre, which overlooks the river Avon.

“The Comedy of Errors” was originally scheduled to begin performances last April, but the company, like theatres across the country, had to bring down the curtain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director Phillip Breen will now re-work the production for the new open-air venue.

“These have and will continue to be challenging times, but we look forward with optimism,” RSC artistic director Gregory Doran said in a statement.

“The outdoor theatre gives us the security that we can perform to good sized audiences as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Another RSC production, “The Winter’s Tale”, originally set to open in March 2020, will now be broadcast as a filmed version around Shakespeare’s birthday in April, the RSC said.

Various theatres, including in London’s West End, have begun announcing their summer re-opening plans with cautious social distancing measures, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month shared his roadmap out of lockdown for England.

It aims for entertainment venues to be able to re-open their doors from May 17.

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, the man behind musicals such as “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Evita”, has said rehearsals for his latest production “Cinderella” had begun in early March, aiming for a summer opening.

He said his musical “Joseph” will also start showing at the London Palladium in July.