I never thought I’d see the day when the Royal Shakespeare Theatrewould be on its knees beaten by of all things a Virus. But here we are, along with many businesses world-wide, laying off staff and in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s case not opening its doors until 2021.
Of course, the real horror story is the hard fact that people will lose their jobs and although the Royal Shakespeare Theatre has promised to keep employees ‘on the books’, know one is sure what the future will bring.
My own view (I used to work there) is that the theatre, excellent though it is and always was, in the acting department has, over the years grown into monster of its own making. Too big for its own boots and nothing like the family unit that it once was, it is in my view starting to separate itself from its roots ie. Stratford upon Avon.
It’s always a danger sign when an organisation begins to build monuments to its own success. When everything they touch appears to turn to gold, I believe problems are not too far away. I refer of course to the ‘recent’ refurbishment. An unnecessary tower, a gift shop better suited in a department store, all while the once magnificent The Other Place, stands mainly idle. All saying to me that business and ‘the gravy train’, has become more important than the people’s need for theatre.
I’m not one for harking back to a ‘Golden Age’ because when I worked there, there was a lot wrong with the internal system (another story) but at least there was theatre galore. I’m no expert, but Shakespeare (main house) and then more modern stuff (The Other Place) seems like a superb training ground for any up and coming actor.
During my time at The Other Place I never saw it empty and sure the old tin shack needed replacing but to see The Other Place now, (even before the Virus) is like watching one of those highly praised modern blocks of flats (in the brutalist style), slowly crumbling away. Plus, there is nothing worse than a dark theatre.
For me. Community is the key.
It’s Community that will, when we return to something resembling normal, that will save The Royal Shakespeare Theatre and put it back on its uppers.
The day when the jam factory goes back to actually feeling like part of Stratford upon Avon again and not that huge behemoth down by the river, will be the day the RSC actually recovers from its own personal, self-inflicted virus.