The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is a British theatre company. It is located primarily at Stratford-upon-Avon, with bases also in London, and Newcastle and is one of the two most prominent publicly-subsidised funded theatre companies in the United Kingdom, alongside London’s Royal National Theatre. The RSC has been operating under it’s current name since 1961 following the formation of the modern Royal Shakespeare Company in 1960 by Peter Hall.
The RSC website states
The aim of the RSC is to keep modern audiences in touch with Shakespeare as our contemporary.
That means that as well as the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, our repertoire includes classic plays by international dramatists and work by living writers.
The RSC’s history dates back to 1875 when Charles Edward Flower, a Stratford brewer, launched an international campaign to build a theatre in the town of Shakespeare’s birth and donated a two-acre site to the cause.
In 1879 the newly completed Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon staged its first production, Much Ado About Nothing.
The theatre received a Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1925, which gave it a certain status. However this was short-lived because on the afternoon of 6 March 1926, when a new season was about to commence rehearsals, a fire broke out. By the following morning the theatre was a blackened shell. The company transferred its Shakespeare festivals to a converted local cinema, but fund-raising began for the rebuilding of the theatre, with generous donations arriving from philanthropists in America.
In January 1928, following an open competition, Elisabeth Scott was appointed architect for the new theatre. Her modernist plans for an art deco structure came under fire from many directions, but the new building was opened triumphantly on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23 April 1932. Scott’s building, with some minor adjustments to the stage, remained in constant use until 2007 when it was finally closed for a major refit of the interior.
The 1986 season in Stratford saw the opening of another theatre, The Swan. The Swan is built inside part of the shell of the Memorial Theatre that survived the 1926 fire. Based on the design of the playhouses of Elizabethan England, The Swan is a unique, modern theatre space.
Michael Boyd was announced as the new Artistic Director for the RSC in July 2002. He replaced Adrian Noble from March 2003 and signaled a new chapter in the company’s history.
Michael became an Associate Director in 1996 and has directed numerous productions for the RSC. His productions of Henry VI, parts I, II, III and Richard IIII earned him an Olivier Award for Best Director in 2000/2001.
The official RSC website can be found at http://www.rsc.org.uk