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The Royal Shakespeare Company has today (2 June) issued a further statement about its position during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to the continuing lockdown, and in line with government advice that social distancing will need to remain in place for quite some time, the Company has taken the decision to postpone all remaining planned performances of The Winter's Tale, The Comedy Of Errors, and all other ticketed events scheduled to take place during the summer season, which was due to end on 3 October 2020.
Planned performances in the autumn & winter programme have also either been postponed or cancelled.
The Company is currently exploring ways in which it can reopen the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) in Stratford-upon-Avon in the autumn with new events and rescheduled performances of The Winter's Tale and The Comedy Of Errors.
Both productions were due to open in the RST this spring, and further details will be announced over the coming months. The ability to stage the productions in the autumn is dependent on government advice on social distancing and whether it is financially viable for the Company to open its theatres and perform to audiences.
Whilst physically closed to audiences and visitors, the Company’s extensive online performance, event & education activity continues. This includes partnering with BBC Culture In Quarantine to bring six of the nation's best-loved Shakespeare titles to audiences for free between now and September.
The Company is also providing educational activities and resources for any young person in the country, including #RSCHomeworkHelp and a partnership with BBC Bitesize Online.
RSC productions are also available to view on Marquee TV, the on-demand streaming service for arts & culture, and through BritBox.
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% 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.”
Ticket buyers will be contacted directly by RSC Box Office staff in performance date order rotation to discuss their donation (to Keep Your RSC), refund and exchange options. Customers will be contacted no later than during the week they were due to visit and are asked not to contact the Box Office at this time.
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