The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.051 Thursday, 5 February 2015
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: February 5, 2015 at 8:26:40 AM EST
Subject: The Other Place to Return in 2016
The Other Place to Return in 2016
5 February 2015
RSC to open new festival theatre, including research, development and rehearsal spaces, and announces a ground-breaking new collaboration with the University of Birmingham
Work begins this month to reinstate the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) iconic studio theatre, The Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon, opening in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
The project is being made possible thanks to the support of private and public funders, including very generous donations from The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Backstage Trust, a £3m Lottery grant from Arts Council England and a new collaboration with the University of Birmingham, Founding Partner of The Other Place.
Originally built in 1973, The Other Place was home to the RSC’s developmental and new work, housing many landmark productions with RSC alumni such as Judi Dench, Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren. The theatre closed in 2006 to make way for the temporary Courtyard Theatre, where the RSC performed during the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
The new Other Place will include a 200-seat flexible studio theatre, built within the external steel structure of The Courtyard Theatre, two new rehearsal rooms, and a new home for the RSC’s 30,000 piece Costume Store, giving people access for the first time via theatre tours.
Under the leadership of Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, the theatre will be a festival venue for RSC productions, with new work festivals taking place twice a year. As a creative hub, it will house rehearsals, research and development, and training for artists throughout the year. Local amateur groups will be able to use the theatre for rehearsals and performances, and the venue will provide additional performance space for the Company’s work with young people and the local community. The Other Place will also be available for commercial hires, raising valuable income to support the RSC’s artistic programme.
The RSC also announces today a new five year collaboration with the University of Birmingham and its Stratford-based Shakespeare Institute. The relationship is rooted in the vision of The Other Place as a centre for creative and academic exchange. At its heart are three practice-led research projects taking place each year, where students, academics and artists develop, critique and respond to provocations. Students will also have access to creative and teaching spaces at The Other Place, with RSC artists and practitioners providing input to undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
The collaboration will develop a laboratory for theatre artists working with scholars and students in creative experiments that stimulate connections between the arts, the academy, and society at large.
Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, said:
‘I am hugely excited about re-imagining The Other Place as a vibrant, creative space, embodying the challenging and alternative spirit of the original. It will be an exemplary home for theatre artists, and a space where students, our actors, visiting theatre makers and our audiences can really feel part of the “engine room” of the RSC.
‘The theatre will house a beautiful new studio theatre and multi-functional spaces for rehearsal, teaching, research, technical fit-out, digital capture, conferences and entertaining. We will also be able to use the space to generate income from commercial hires to support our work. We are collaborating with Ian Ritchie Architects and Tom Piper as Design Consultant, whom I recently worked with on the production of The Christmas Truce. I am a great admirer of his work and thrilled to be working with him on this project.
‘Our collaboration with the University of Birmingham is a brilliant opportunity for students to get right into the heart of the RSC, using the theatre and its resources as part of their undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Their presence, alongside our artists, will bring a real energy to the building.
‘Our award-winning Midsummer Mischief festival in summer 2014 gave a flavour of what’s to come in The Other Place. In 2016, the theatre will be back as a new resource for the 21st century for the RSC, our partners and our audiences. We are very grateful to all our funders who have made this possible – including a major Lottery grant from Arts Council England, The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Backstage Trust.’
Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, said:
‘This is a hugely exciting collaboration that builds on our existing relationship with the RSC and promises to have enormous benefits for both parties – not least the opportunity to combine our world-leading arts research with the RSC’s cutting-edge artistic practice. Our students will undoubtedly benefit from the numerous teaching and creative opportunities afforded by this innovative project, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how it progresses.’
Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England, said:
‘We’re really pleased to be able to invest in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s ambition to restore The Other Place into a thriving hub for theatre-making and learning, as well as support plans to renovate its historic costume workshops. Part of the Arts Council’s role is to invest in the equipment and facilities cultural organisations need to produce great art. This significant investment from our National Lottery-funded Capital programme will see the RSC create a dedicated space for artists, young people, students and the local community, while also improving the company’s facilities for research and production that are essential to the creation of world-class work.’
The Other Place is one of two major building projects taking place on the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon estate, which will open in time for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016. The other is the Swan Wing project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is restoring the fabric of the oldest part of the RSC’s estate and sits adjacent to the Swan Theatre. The project also includes a major new exhibition celebrating the RSC’s rich history of theatre making. More information www.rsc.org.uk/about-us/press/releases/swan-wing-restoration.aspx
Arts Council England has also awarded a £2.1m Lottery grant for the renovation of the RSC’s Costume Workshop, one of the largest in-house departments in the UK, situated opposite the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres. Planning for the redevelopment of the buildings is currently underway and work will begin in 2017, following the completion of The Other Place and the Swan Wing, and when the remaining funds have been raised.
For further information, contact
, 07966 295032 or
, 01789 412622.
For the University of Birmingham please contact Stuart Gillespie on +44 (0)121 414 9041.
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History of The Other Place
The Other Place was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s original studio theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. It began life as a tin shed rehearsal room and in 1974, following a series of experimental theatre projects such as Actors Commando and Theatregoround, it was converted into a studio space for adventurous and experimental work by contemporary writers.
The Other Place was the brainchild of Buzz Goodbody, the pioneering visionary at the helm of its artistic direction in its early days, who made it the most productive tin shed in theatre history. Inspired by the revolutionary spirit of the alternative theatre movements occurring throughout Britain, Buzz created an unconventional auditorium, which aimed to create a sense of community and intimacy between actors and audience. This was a period of great change, altering the face of British theatre forever; with the earliest signs beginning in 1960 when Peter Hall joined the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre as Artistic Director with the objective to ‘to express Shakespeare’s intentions in terms that modern audiences could understand.’
The Other Place was closed in 1989 for two years of rebuilding, and reopened its doors in 1991 with a permanent brick building. This building later closed and was adapted as a foyer to The Courtyard Theatre which housed RSC productions during the transformation of the RST and Swan theatres.
Arts Council England
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2010 and 2015, we will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk