After virus closures, Shakespeare returns... outside

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, June 22, 2024

After virus closures, Shakespeare returns... outside
Actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company rehearse scenes from the William Shakespeare play The Comedy of Errors in the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre, a specially constructed outdoor performance space located in the Swan Theatre Gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon, central England on July 12, 2021. Darren Staples / AFP.

by Sylvain Peuchmaurd

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON (AFP).- Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company has returned to the stage after an enforced 18-month absence due to the coronavirus pandemic -- at a specially built open-air theatre in the bard's home town.

The first performance of "The Comedy of Errors" took place on Tuesday night, in front of a 250-strong crowd -- half the capacity until pandemic restrictions are eased in England next week.

"This feels like the real spirit of Shakespeare. You've just got the words, the space and the audience," actor Greg Haiste told AFP before the show.

"And you've got that wonderful shared experience which we've been missing so much over the last year and a half."

The purpose-built Garden Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, central England, is next to the RSC's main indoor auditorium on the banks of the river Avon.

It sits on 900 tonnes of rock and 30 tonnes of steel have been used for the seating.

It lies just a stone's throw from where the celebrated 16th-century playwright was born and his final resting place at the Holy Trinity Church.

The RSC, whose alumni include some of Britain's most famous actors, from Laurence Olivier to Judi Dench, had been set to perform "The Comedy of Errors" when coronavirus struck.

That forced the company to postpone the farce, as entertainment venues had to shut their doors and stay-at-home restrictions were imposed from March 2020.

"A lot of us started this project in January 2020, and we got right through to almost ready to do it, and we had to pause, and we started again," said Haiste.

No umbrellas

The Garden Theatre has forced the RSC to adapt: lighting -- trickier outside -- has had to be redesigned, and actors have to use microphones to be heard without indoor acoustics.

"That's going to be interesting to stay connected with the audience without them directly receiving our voices," said actress Hedydd Dylan.

"Hopefully we'll get used to it and so will they."

Dylan is one of the cast members already accustomed to performing in the open as part of productions at London's Globe Theatre -- a reconstruction of Shakespeare's Elizabethan-era playhouse on the banks of the Thames.

She said she was "used to acting with pigeons landing on the stage sometimes".

"It's a little bit distracting but the audience love it. Everything that goes wrong, that's their favourite game," she added.

Good weather is never guaranteed in Britain, even in the summer months, and the audience is being warned that they may get wet.

But while raincoats are encouraged, umbrellas are forbidden.

Exposure to the elements, though, is being billed as all part of the experience, giving theatre-goers a taste of how plays used to be performed in Shakespeare's day.

As well as disruptive pigeons, actors and the audience will have to contend with the surrounding noises of the busy market town or the often noisy nearby swans on the river.

The pandemic has made other changes to preparations.

Kissing scenes have been ruled out. Dylan said actors also rehearsed with masks, social distancing -- as well as Covid tests -- making the experience "pretty weird".

Pigeon poo

"We're just dying to share this story with real human beings," said Dylan, adding that it would be a thrill to put the worst behind them and return to normality.

"Finally it feels real and it's going to happen," said actress Avita Jay.

With some members of the public still wary about returning to enclosed spaces, open-air performances feel like the "perfect solution", she added.

Being outside could also be "more adventurous", Jay said.

"We've got a sweepstake at the moment on who is going to be the first person to have a pigeon poo on them during the show, hopefully it won't be me."

Director Phillip Breen said at least now an audience would be present. "People seem to be impatient to come... We've sold very well," he said.

Despite his concerns for the future of the theatre after the pandemic, the revival in Stratford comes with new optimism.

"It has that feeling of celebration, people want to come back and see actors work again," he said.

"Hopefully it will reset a relationship between our actors and our audience."

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

July 15, 2021

Newfound sections 'prove' ancient wall protected Jerusalem's east flank

Jeff Bezos gives $200 million to National Air and Space Museum

New exhibition presents major works on paper from the Hessel Collection

Genius at work: 29 MacArthur fellows show their art in Chicago

Exhibition of recent paintings by Archie Rand opens at TOTAH

Phillips Asia announces 24/7 Online Auction

What does it take to be like Mike? 1,264 ticket stubs.

Jane Kaufman, artist who celebrated women's work, dies at 83

For Keioui Keijaun Thomas, the body becomes a vessel

The fate of the Met Opera's fall season lies in its orchestra pit

Rare and elegant 1965 Iso Rivolta to be offered at Ivoire Troyes

Mariët Westermann appointed to Rijksmuseum Supervisory Board

Buddhist digital amulets mark Thai entry into crypto art craze

Single-owner collection of oil and petroliana will be auctioned online

Intersect Aspen announces details of August 1-5 pop-up art fair

Kristen Richards, 69, dies; Reshaped architecture journalism online

Bernette Ford, who made children's books more diverse, dies at 70

Paul Huntley, hair master of Broadway and Hollywood, is dead at 88

Cannes: Anatomy of a standing ovation for 'The French Dispatch'

Murano chandeliers, Tiffany & Co. period jewels and a Henrietta Berk painting offered at Michaan's

Grounds For Sculpture announces new leadership appointments

Charlie Robinson, actor best known for 'Night Court,' dies at 75

Car crash? Sexy French horror flick rattles Cannes

After virus closures, Shakespeare returns... outside

Online gaming in Australia: business features

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful