On Aug. 27, the Royal Shakespeare Company, or the RSC, announced that its theaters will not be reopening before 2021. This decision has come due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Royal Shakespeare Company is most known for its continual focus on the works of William Shakespeare, the majority of its productions penned by him. Another well-known attribute known about the RSC is its casts. Some of the world’s greatest actors have graced the stage of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. In fact, Dame Judi Dench has performed there over 20 times. Other actors to take that iconic stage include Jude Law, the late Alan Rickman, Helen Mirren, Tilda Swinton, Christopher Eccleston, Hayley Atwell, David Tennant, Michael Sheen and others. The list goes on and on.
In a statement on their official website, Catherine Mallyon, the executive director, said, “Despite our wish to re-open our theatres by the end of the year, it is now clear that the ongoing pandemic and the continued need for social distancing mean that we will not be able to stage full RSC productions … before 2021.” However, the RSC plans to still hold some of their outdoor events, such as Shakespeare in Stratford. In November, the government will be reevaluating the current situation of coronavirus and social distancing measures. The theatre has hopes that some good news will come out of this review.
In addition to the announcement about its indefinite closure, the company also announced that it would, unfortunately, begin employee consultations in October. Their reasoning for this decision is to help safeguard the future of the Company. In another statement, Mallyon said, “We also confirmed that, as there will be no work available from Nov. 1, we will be unable to pay casual worker colleagues and those employed on variable hour contracts.”
The RSC closed its door on Mar. 17 and has not reopened since. The entire autumn/winter season has either been postponed or cancelled altogether. Programs that have been postponed include: “The Winter’s Tale,” “The Comedy of Errors,” “The Wars of the Roses,” “The Magician’s Elephant and “The Twelfth Night.” Most of these programs have been postponed to next winter. Programs that have been cancelled include: “The Barbican annual residency” and “Matilda the Musical.” The RSC, unfortunately, also had to cancel their Summer School program.
Back in June, the RSC, much like theaters across the world, suffered a heavy economic blow. According to the deputy artistic director, Erica Whyman, “We lost 75 percent of our income.” As a result, the RSC was forced to furlough 90 percent of its staff. In addition, it was forced to end over a hundred contracts.
The theatre itself is also facing economic issues as it has not brought in a steady income in months. The RSC is asking for donations to help keep the company alive and to aid them in returning as soon as it is safe to do so.