The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced that it is now cancelling all performances and events until 30 June and closing its Swan Theatre until the autumn.
After shutting its theatre spaces and halting performances in March, the RSC has decided it has to halt plans for shows at its smaller space in Stratford-upon-Avon, including the Projekt Europa season exploring, celebrating and interrogating Britain’s relationship to Europe, due to start in May.
This includes Barbara Frey’s adaptation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, Blindness and Seeing based on José Saramago’s novels and Maria Åberg’s stage version of Europeana by Czech writer Patrik Ouředník as well as Decameron 2020 performed by the RSC’s Next Generation Act young company.
In the bigger Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Pericles directed by Blanche McIntyre has been postponed instead of opening in August.
However, if public health advice allows, the RSC hopes to go ahead with later openings in July for two productions: The Winter’s Tale, directed by Erica Whyman with Joseph Kloska as Leontes, originally due to run from 28 March; and The Comedy of Errors, directed by Phillip Breen with Miles Jupp as Antipholus of Syracuse, which was previously scheduled for 25 April onwards.
In line with the Society of London Theatre’s announcement on extending shut down in the West End, Matilda The Musical will remain closed until at least 31 May 2020.
The theatres’ box office team will contact ticket holders over the coming weeks to discuss donation, credit or refund options. They will get in touch on a rolling weekly basis and have asked people not to contact the box office directly due to the volume of activity during this time.
In a joint statement today, RSC artistic director Gregory Doran and executive director Catherine Mallyon, said: “This is a situation without parallel for all, and the health of the public and our staff continues to be our number one priority. It is incredibly sad to see our stages empty, productions cancelled, and our buildings closed.
“In particular the remarkable Projekt Europa, involving so many creative artists from across Europe, is a huge loss. We have considered this very carefully, but it is sadly unavoidable.
“Our mission is to transform lives through amazing experiences of Shakespeare and great theatre. For us to deliver our mission and to give us the best chance of re-opening as soon as we can, we have to make difficult decisions to ensure the survival of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
“In the face of the considerable challenges posed by COVID-19, we have also made the hard decision to furlough the majority of roles at the RSC under the UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We are working hard to ensure that staff feel fully supported through this process and thank them for their resilience and understanding as we continue to adapt to the rapidly changing situation.
“We are exploring every possibility to secure income from other government schemes, our donors and audiences and we ask you all to join us in doing whatever you can to secure the future of the RSC for everyone.
“As a registered charity we rely on a mix of income to fund our activity, from the productions on stage to the important work we do with over 500,000 young people, and our partner schools and theatres around the country. We ask that anyone able to do so, considers donating the value of their tickets – in full or in part – to help support the company to continue this work.”
The RSC continues to make past productions available to stream at home through a partnership with Marquee TV, the arts and culture on-demand streaming service, including a free 30-day trial.
As part of the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine initiative to maintain public access to art and culture, six of the RSC’s best-loved Shakespeare productions will be broadcast between now and September.