New video released of the four performers playing Matilda in the RSC’s multi award-winning musical which reopens in the West End on 16 September

L-R Alex, Zoe, Elliot, Alyssa and Imogen from RSCs Matilda The Musical

Images and a brand-new video have been released today of the four young performers who will share the title role in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Matilda The Musical when it reopens on 16 September at the Cambridge Theatre in the West End. In the video, Imogen Cole, Alyssa D’Souza, Alex Munden and Zoe Simon can be seen getting to grips with their gymnastic ribbon skills under the watchful eye of Elliot Harper (Miss Trunchbull).

Celebrating 10 years since the multi award-winning show opened in London, this iconic British musical has won 99 international awards including 24 for Best Musical and has been seen by more than 10 million people across more than 90 cities worldwide. Matilda The Musical is now booking through to 13 February 2022. For further information visit

A tonic for audiences of all ages, this anarchic production about a strong and determined heroine with a vivid imagination has welcomed almost 4 million audience members in London. Matilda The Musical will also visit the Netherlands for the first time, translated into Dutch for a run at the Oude Luxor Theater Rotterdam. The theatre hopes that the musical will bring visitors to the city as it emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also announced plans to work with partners in Rotterdam to develop an education programme around the show. Tickets are now on sale for Matilda De Musical in Rotterdam visit

Adapted from Roald Dahl’s much loved 1988 book and commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the musical premiered at the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon home in 2010, before transferring to the West End in October 2011, where it opened to rave reviews.

Matilda The Musical swept the board at the 2012 Olivier Awards, with a record-breaking seven awards, and won four Tony Awards and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater for the four girls sharing the title role on Broadway. It has since toured North America, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, South Africa and China and played its first non-English language production in Seoul, South Korea in 2018/19.

With the upcoming film adaptation from the same core creative team as the theatre production (direction by Matthew Warchus, adapted for the screen by Dennis Kelly, with the music and lyrics of Tim Minchin), Dahl’s themes of bravery and standing up for what you believe in will continue to inspire young audiences all over the world. Produced by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title, Jon Finn, and Luke Kelly of The Roald Dahl Story Company. Sony Pictures U.K. and Tristar Pictures will release Matilda across the U.K. and Ireland exclusively in cinemas on 2nd December 2022 for Christmas. Netflix will release the film in the rest of the world in December 2022.

Written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and developed and directed by Matthew Warchus, the theatre production is designed by Rob Howell, with choreography by Peter Darling, orchestrations, additional music and musical supervision by Christopher Nightingale, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker and the special effects and illusions are by Paul Kieve.

Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

Matilda The Musical is produced by Executive Producers Denise Wood and Griselda Yorke for the Royal Shakespeare Company.  The production was developed with the support of Jeanie O’Hare and the RSC Literary Department.

André Ptaszynski had worked as one of the Executive Producers of the production from 2011 until his untimely death in 2020.  He is much missed by all of his colleagues.

Royal Shakespeare Company announces Summer 2021 Programme

Royal Shakespeare Company
  • First visual of Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre released
  • Performance schedule announced for The Comedy of Errors, directed by Phillip Breen.
  • RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran and Owen Horsley present Henry VI Part One: Open Rehearsal Project culminating in a live online rehearsal room performance on 23 June.
  • Next Generation Act present All Mirth and No Matter, a creative response to Much Ado About Nothing; online Playmaking Festival to celebrate creativity of young people & adults from across the UK and Live Schools’ Broadcast of Macbeth (2018) announced.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has today released full details of its Summer 2021 programme which includes an artists’ impression of the newly conceived Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre. This specially constructed outdoor performance space is located in the Swan Theatre Gardens, flanked by the River Avon and overlooked by the Swan Theatre.

Gregory Doran, Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, said;

As nations all over the world emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the UK theatre industry prepares to welcome in-person audiences, the RSC is re-opening by sharing our work in new, creative and surprising ways.  We want to respond to our changing world and the needs of our audiences with performances and experiences outdoors and online – opening up our rehearsal rooms for the first time.

‘By creating an outdoor theatre space for The Comedy of Errors we hope audiences will feel safe to return to the theatre with confidence. Our buildings will gradually come back to life during the summer through our café and restaurant, and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre will be ready for indoor performances in the autumn.

‘The last year has taught us many things and we know that we can reach new audiences around the world through our work online. We want to build on this by inviting the public to join our rehearsal process for the first time and working in collaboration with the BBC to adapt The Winter’s Tale specifically for the screen. We know there is an appetite from those who can’t join us in Stratford, and we want to welcome them to the RSC. Throughout the pandemic we have continued to support and work alongside the thousands of young people and adults in the RSC community. Arts and culture are vital to help people to reconnect after lockdown, and our work continues across the UK with our partner theatres to support the recovery of our towns and cities. Many of those young people will join us at our Playmaking Festival, on our Garden Theatre stage and in their classrooms for the Live Schools’ Broadcast of Macbeth.

‘As our thoughts turn to new beginnings, we cannot wait to work again with our freelance colleagues and to welcome audiences back to the place where, for so many, their love of live theatre first began.’

The Comedy of Errors

As previously announced, the Summer 2021 programme begins with an outdoor production of The Comedy of Errors, directed by Phillip Breen running in the Garden Theatre from Tuesday 13 July – Sunday 26 September 2021.

Phillip Breen’s previous RSC directorial credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Provoked Wife and The Hypocrite. The production is designed by Max Jones with Lighting by Tina MacHugh, Music by Paddy Cunneen, Sound by Dyfan Jones, Movement by Charlotte Broom and Fights by Renny Krupinski. The 2021 production of The Comedy of Errors is sponsored by Darwin Escapes.

The Comedy of Errors and The Winter’s Tale were both due to begin performances in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Spring 2020 and were preparing to open when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

The previously announced screen adaptation of The Winter’s Tale, directed by Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, will be broadcast on BBC Four on Sunday 25 April at 7pm as part of BBC Lights Up, an unprecedented season of plays for BBC TV and radio, produced in partnership with theatres across the UK and continuing BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative. A BSL signed version of the production will be broadcast on Thursday 29 April at 1.10am. Both versions will subsequently be available on iPlayer.

The RSC will also stream the production to Subscribers, Members and Patrons based outside the UK following the BBC broadcast. The streaming will be available for 24 hours on 25 April 2021 at 9pm BST and on 8 May 2021 at 6pm BST.

Following its Stratford run, The Comedy of Errors will tour to partner theatres around the nation including The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury from Wednesday 27 – Saturday 30 October 2021. Additional dates and venues to be announced.

Henry VI Part One; Open Rehearsal Project

For the first time in the RSC’s history, Artistic Director Gregory Doran will invite audiences inside the full rehearsal process for three weeks this Summer, culminating in a complete rehearsal room performance of Henry VI Part One broadcast online on Wednesday 23 June at 7pm.

Running from Tuesday 1 – Friday 25 June, Henry VI Part One; Open Rehearsal Project will see directors Gregory Doran and Owen Horsley re-unite to reinvent the Henry VI plays afresh.

The daily schedule of activity begins with a Company Warm Up, led by members of the acting company and creative team, in which participants develop skills such as voice technique and stage fighting, as well as physically preparing for the day.

From noon, online audiences are invited to join a live rehearsal session as the actors and directors put the show on its feet. This will be followed by the opportunity to join members of the company for a post-rehearsal Green Room Chat as they reflect back on the day, unwind after rehearsals and answer audience questions about the process.

The Henry VI Part One; Open Rehearsal Project will culminate in a live streamed final rehearsal room run through from Stratford-upon-Avon on Wednesday 23 June, available to watch on demand until midnight on Friday 25 June.  This will give audiences a unique chance to see the end result of three intensive rehearsal weeks – the moment just before a show hits the stage.

The three Henry VI plays were originally due to be presented in the Swan Theatre from 10 October 2020 – 2 January 2021 by a single company of actors, across two performances but were later postponed due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

The Henry VI Part One; Open Rehearsal Project will be co-directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran and Owen Horsley, who last worked alongside each other between 2013-2015 on the critically acclaimed King and Country cycle featuring Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V.

 A Summer of Play & Playmaking

As children and young people start to reconnect with each other, their wider families and school communities, it is more important than ever that we continue to champion the role that arts and cultural learning can play in supporting wellbeing, developing young people’s skills and talents and getting them ready to learn for the next academic year.

The Royal Shakespeare Company will therefore play host to a Summer of Reconnection which celebrates the creativity and resilience of our Royal Shakespeare Community of young people, children and adults, creating opportunities for people of all ages to make and share Shakespeare’s work with friends, within schools and with their local communities.

The Royal Shakespeare Community incorporates 1,000 schools, 1,500 adults and over half a million young people across the nation, enabling them to learn about, participate in, challenge, and make performances of Shakespeare’s plays.  

 Intergenerational Online Playmaking Festival

The summer of reconnection opens with a week-long online celebration of playmaking from Mon 5 July featuring 20 original digital commissions involving 600 young people aged 5 to 18 from the RSC’s national Associate Schools network and adults from the Shakespeare Nation community programme. All delivered in collaboration with regional theatre partners. Composer Tarek Merchant and Movement Director Tanushka Marah will be providing creative inspiration for students as they make short films based on a range of Shakespeare’s plays. A team of freelance directors will work with teachers, students and adults in the development of their work.

In previous summers, pupils from across the country have followed in the footsteps of some of the world’s best-known actors by performing on stage in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the RSC’s Playmaking Festival.

This year’s Playmaking Festival goes online via a specially designed new website. It features an interactive map with three themed zones that audiences can click on and visit. Each zone contains footage of young people and adult community group members from across the country performing their versions of edited scenes or speeches from a Shakespeare play of their choice.

Accompanying the microsite will be wraparound activities throughout the week, including online workshops and creative challenges.

Next Generation Act: All Mirth and No Matter

The Summer of Reconnection includes an original performance from the RSC’s Next Generation ACT young company inspired by William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing directed by Sameena Hussain, with Keiren Hamilton-Amos as Movement Director.

The RSC’s Next Generation ACT company will resume in-person performances on Friday 23 July with All Mirth and No Matter, a fusion of new writing and Shakespeare’s text. The production will run in the Garden Theatre for two public performances following a week-long rehearsal residency in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Taking inspiration from the wedding of Claudio and Hero, this fresh response to Shakespeare’s most problematic of nuptial celebrations brings together movement, original music and spoken word to shed new light on the story of the slandered Hero.

Made up of 24 young people aged between 13 and 18 from across the country, Next Generation Act is one strand of the RSC Next Generation programmea unique talent development scheme that provides gifted young people from backgrounds currently under-represented in the theatre industry with the opportunity to gain experience in acting, directing or backstage roles and explore whether a career in the theatre is for them.

 Learning in Schools, Online and for life

Meanwhile, the RSC continues to work alongside regional theatre partners supporting a nationwide network of over 250 Associate Schools to develop new and innovative ways to transform how students learn about and through Shakespeare’s plays, in their classrooms or at home.

Upcoming highlights include the 2021 Schools’ Broadcast of Macbeth (2018), directed by Polly Findlay with Christopher Eccleston in the title role, which will be available on demand for a week from Mon 17 May.

2021 will also see the return of the RSC’s annual Summer School for lifelong learners, which will run online from Monday 23 – Friday 27 August with an inspiring mix of sessions soon to be announced.

Free family activities on the Bancroft Terrace

As Stratford-upon-Avon re-opens its doors to visitors and residents, the RSC will be celebrating the arrival of Summer with a series of free pop-up performances, interactive workshops and outdoor performances for families running for four weeks from Tuesday 27 July – Friday 20 August on the Bancroft Terrace and across the newly installed Garden Theatre.

On Tuesdays, visitors can brush up on their stand-up with a programme of fun, interactive sessions inspired by comedy and clowning.

On Wednesdays, twice-daily pop-up performances inspired by the RSC’s own history of costume-making, accompanied by a free making workshop in which participants will be invited to make their own item of costume. There will also be a separate craft workshop inspired by The Comedy of Errors where you will be able to create giant chains to funny disguises.

On Thursdays free musical performances open to all.

Would-be crafters can also put their skills to the test with free making-workshops lead by RSC Costume Practitioners.

Bringing the weekly programme of activity to a close on Friday mornings, visitors are invited to join RSC workshop leaders for a weekly Community Warm Up in the Garden Theatre. Open to all ages at a cost of £5 per ticket, with family ticket offers available, these fun, interactive sessions are the perfect excuse to get on their feet and join in the fun with family and friends, whether taking your place centre stage or joining in from the comfort of your seat.

On Friday 20 August we will celebrate our costume making heritage with a Costume Day; featuring a series of free pop-up performances, workshops and family-friendly activities taking place across the town with further details soon to be confirmed. These activities are part of THREADS, a programme of events that celebrate the heritage of costume making in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Riverside Cafe and Rooftop Restaurant Re-opening

Elsewhere at the RSC, the Riverside Cafe will resume its popular takeaway service from Wednesday 21 April if restrictions allow.

Visitors can also take advantage of the ‘Rocket’ ice cream van located at the front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on selected days throughout the Summer.

Both outlets will serve a selection of drinks, sandwiches, ice cream, crisps and delicious cakes plus a full range of fair-trade tea and coffee.

The Riverside Cafe will be open at 10am, six days a week, Tuesday – Sunday.

From Tuesday 13 July, in line with government guidelines, the Rooftop Restaurant will re-open its doors with a reduced menu, available from Tuesday – Sunday.

The restaurant will operate with reduced capacity so pre-booking is essential. The outdoor terraces will be open, overlooking the RSC’s picturesque landscape.

A picnic offer will be available to purchase via click and collect as well as drinks for pre theatre and interval via a new online ordering service for Garden Theatre audiences.

Listings Information:


The Comedy of Errors

Tuesday 13 July – Sunday 26 September 2021

Press Performance: Tuesday 20 July, 6.30pm

Premium, £45 (£35 previews) Tickets, £35 (£25 previews)

A limited number of back row tickets are available at £20. All seats offer an uninterrupted clear view of the stage.

These are strange times. Confusion and uncertainty everywhere.

A father ends up in the wrong country on the wrong day as a government makes hasty proclamations about travel. A lonely son, while searching for his brother, loses himself. Across town a wife starts to realise her husband is not the man she thought he was (but rather likes it). Will anything ever be the same again?

Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, a fairytale farce of everyday miracles, mistaken identity and double vision, is directed by comedy master Phillip Breen (The Provoked Wife 2019The Hypocrite 2017)Join us for a joyous moment of reunion, celebration and laughter in the brand new open air Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre, on the banks of the Avon. Come outside and play.

Next Generation Act: All Mirth and No Matter

Friday 23 July, 10.30am & 2.30pm

£5 (Under 16s, Free)

This summer we invite you to join the Next Generation Act company as we celebrate the wedding of the year! Come and witness the marriage of Hero and Claudio as they knit their souls together and dance under the stars. Complete with hilarious speeches from the Best Man, Benedick, and Maid of Honour, Beatrice, we guarantee a night of revelling. This performance is a response to Much Ado About Nothing by the RSC Next Generation Act young company, made up of 24 talented young people from our Associate Schools across the country.


Henry VI Part One: Open Rehearsal Project

Tuesday 1 – Friday 25 June 2021

Access All Areas (online live performance plus rehearsals) £20

Backstage Pass (online rehearsal access only) Free.

For the first time, we welcome you inside our full rehearsal process for a Shakespeare play, culminating in a final live online rehearsal room run through of the entire play.

Rehearsals normally happen behind closed doors, with the results only seen when the production reaches the stage.

This spring, we are opening up to you online. Alongside the company and Directors Gregory Doran and Owen Horsley, you can join in the daily warm up or learn new skills from the RSC Team.

You can share the excitement of watching actors grapple with the text and put the play on its feet, working out how (under Covid protocols) to choreograph fights or negotiate intimate scenes. This is our chance to reinvent how we explore and present the Henry VI plays – originally programmed for the Swan Theatre – as we emerge from the Covid crisis.

The final live rehearsal room run through will take place live on Wednesday 23 June, with the chance to watch on demand until midnight on Friday 25 June.

  • 10-10.30am: Company Warm Up. Led by members of the acting company and creative team, warm-ups are a chance to develop skills like voice work and fights, as well as physically preparing for the day.
  • From noon: A fascinating glimpse into live rehearsals as the actors and directors put the show on its feet (45-90 mins sessions).
  • 6-6.30pm: Green Room Chat. Members of the company unwind after rehearsals, reflecting on the day and answering your questions.

RSC Online Summer School

Monday 23 – Friday 27 August 2021

We are pleased to announce the return of our much-loved RSC Summer School with a week-long programme of online talks, sessions with actors, insights and provocations from theatre makers, academics and reviewers, all to be enjoyed from the comfort of your home. The week will explore RSC productions past, present and future, including gems from our archive, special insights into our summer season production of The Comedy of Errors and an exclusive peak into our 2022 programme. Each day will include 2 streamed sessions as well as a Green Room discussion to round off the day where summer schoolers can connect and reflect together. In addition, the week will include access to two full length RSC productions that will streamed specifically for summer school participants.

A full schedule will be released nearer the time and participants can either purchase a day ticket or join us for the whole week.


RSC announces BBC broadcast of The Winter’s Tale & live theatre returns to Stratford

Royal Shakespeare Company

With the one-year anniversary of theatres being forced to close in sight, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is pleased to announce that audiences will now get the chance to see The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors, two of its postponed 2020 major Shakespeare productions.

A filmed version of The Winter’s Tale, directed by Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, will be broadcast on BBC Four around Shakespeare’s birthday in April (transmission date TBC), and will then be available on BBC iPlayer.  The Winter’s Tale film adaptation forms part of BBC Lights Up, an unprecedented season of plays for BBC TV and radio, produced in partnership with theatres across the UK and continuing BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative. The RSC will also stream the production to Subscribers, Members and Patrons based outside the UK following the BBC broadcast.

In the Summer the RSC will restart live performances in Stratford-upon-Avon for in-person audiences, opening with an outdoor production of The Comedy of Errors, directed by Phillip Breen. The Company will stage the production in the Garden Theatre, a specially constructed outdoor performance space located in the Swan Gardens, flanked by the River Avon and overlooked by the Swan Theatre.  A full performance schedule and Box Office details for The Comedy of Errors and further programming will be announced in mid-April.

Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors were both due to begin performances in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in March and April 2020 respectively, and were preparing to open when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.  The 2021 productions of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors are both sponsored by Darwin Escapes.

Directed by Erica Whyman and featuring the entire cast due to appear in the postponed 2020 production, The Winter’s Tale has been re-rehearsed adhering to strict safety measures. It has been adapted for the television broadcast by the original creative team, with screen direction by Bridget Caldwell. Set across a 16-year span from the 1953 coronation to the moon landings, this production imagines a world where the ghosts of fascist Europe collide with horrors reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale, before washing up on a joyful seashore. With set design by Tom Piper, costumes by Madeleine Girling, and music by Isobel Waller-Bridge, the cast includes Ben Caplan as Camillo, Andrew French as Polixenes, Amanda Hadingue as Paulina, Kemi-Bo Jacobs as Hermione and Joseph Kloska as Leontes.

Phillip Breen will reconceive The Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare’s earliest and arguably funniest plays, for outdoor performances to open the newly created Garden Theatre.  Phillip’s previous RSC directorial credits include The Merry Wives of WindsorThe Provoked Wife and The Hypocrite.  The production is designed by Max Jones.  Full casting and creative team details, alongside further details about the Garden Theatre, will be announced in April.

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, said:

“As we approach the anniversary of the temporary closure of theatres due to the pandemic, it is fantastic to announce future plans and look ahead to audiences returning to Stratford in the summer.

“Our doors closed as The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors were preparing to open.  Both productions will now be seen by audiences one year on – The Winter’s Tale on screen into people’s homes via BBC Four and BBC iPlayer, and The Comedy of Errors opening our new Garden Theatre, where audiences can return to Stratford and see Shakespeare in the open air.

“It has been an incredibly tough year for all in the industry, including our freelance colleagues who make this industry tick.  Despite having to postpone and cancel productions, we have continued to share Shakespeare online and outdoors, and support young people and teachers throughout the pandemic.

“These have and will continue to be challenging times, but we look forward with optimism.  The outdoor theatre gives us the security that we can perform to good sized audiences as we emerge from the pandemic and prepare for news on the government roadmap’s ‘no earlier than’ dates.

“We’ve had extraordinary support, generosity and patience from our supporters and audiences, which has been a great source of encouragement as we have navigated the ups and downs of the year. Alongside our colleagues across the industry, we will play our part in the recovery of our towns and cities and the wellbeing of our communities, and we cannot wait to welcome audiences back”.

Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director and director of The Winter’s Tale said:

The Winter’s Tale is the most perfect play to be rehearsing as we begin to believe in recovery.  It speaks with profound insight of the abuse of power, of the need for truth and justice, of the central importance of family, and of how long it can take a nation to forgive and to heal.  Then it transports us across ‘a wide gap of time’ to a place of joy, of community, of love and reconciliation.  We have been working on this play for 15 months – with our own wide gaps – and we have learned so much about what the play means.  It is now filled with our collective understanding of what it is to find our world suddenly stopped in its tracks, and of Shakespeare’s compassion for lives changed forever.  It is a huge privilege to be bringing it back to life at last.”

Jonty Claypole, BBC Director of Arts, said:

“BBC Lights Up is a major broadcast season celebrating the creativity and resilience of UK theatre in its darkest hour.  It’s that seemingly impossible thing: a theatre festival in the midst of a pandemic, consisting of eighteen original productions from theatres and producers right across the UK.  Central to that mission is the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Winter’s Tale.  The plans the Company has – with a cast and creative team second to none – are astonishingly ambitious. In their hands, Shakespeare’s late masterpiece about hope and renewal will speak directly to a country emerging from the worst winter in living memory.”

Royal Shakespeare Company to receive government culture recovery fund repayable finance

Royal Shakespeare Company

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) today announced that the Company has been successful in an application for repayable finance to the government’s Culture Recovery Fund. The loan of £19.4 million will help to secure the immediate future of the Company amidst the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the theatre industry.

The Company has been unable to stage full productions since the start of the pandemic, resulting in an expected loss of 86% income outside the RSC’s Arts Council England (ACE) grant, a loss of approximately £46 million for the current financial year. Throughout the crisis the RSC has used its reserves and ACE grant to support the Company’s activity, alongside fundraising income from trust funders, donors and partners as well as donations from audiences, Members and Patrons as part of the Keep Your RSC campaign.  The RSC also furloughed up to 90% of its staff, benefitting from the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and is reaching the end of a formal consultation with staff on redundancies and changes to terms and conditions.

Since the temporary closure of the RSC’s theatres in March, the Company has retained a company of 35 freelance actors and stage managers at the heart of its work, continued to support young people and teachers with its far-reaching education activity, celebrated the power of Shakespeare through initiatives such as #shareyourShakespeare, staged free outdoor Summer performances in its Stratford-upon-Avon gardens, talked Shakespeare online with RSC alumni and audiences, and streamed productions for free on iPlayer.

The Company are staging Tales for Winter in December and January, a season of events over six weekends based around storytelling (see more HERE and HERE).

This repayable finance will ensure the Company’s financial stability in the short-term helping the RSC to:

  • stage Tales for Winter, the current programme of live streamed performances
  • open full productions in Stratford-upon-Avon and London in Spring 2021
  • continue essential education work in schools and communities in collaboration with 11 regional theatre partners across the country supporting hundreds of thousands of young people
  • recommence national touring with the RSC’s partner theatres
  • work with commercial partners to invest in new productions that can generate potential income for the Company
  • deliver a major piece of work as part of the City of Culture in Coventry 2021
  • capture the rest of Shakespeare’s canon through Live From cinema broadcasts which are streamed free to schools

As the Company’s programme of work expands the RSC will be able to engage significant numbers of freelance actors, musicians and creative team members alongside the RSC’s permanent workforce.

Commenting on the announcement Gregory Doran, Artistic Director, and Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director, said,

“We are relieved to receive news that the RSC will receive Culture Recovery Fund repayable finance following our application, and thank the government, through DCMS, for their significant backing.  It has been reassuring to see the thousands of companies around the country receiving crucial grants over recent weeks.  They are the lifeblood of communities, support the local economy and enable strong health and well-being of our towns and cities.

“It continues to be a challenging time for theatres big and small, and for all those in the arts and culture sector. We are very grateful for the support we have received from our audiences, donors and partners, but without any regular income from our work on stage, and currently no confirmed date for the full re-opening of the theatres, we must plan for a different future.

“The finance will help the RSC to recover, and in the medium-term reopen our Swan and The Other Place theatres which will remain closed in 2021. All our activity will increase the work available to our essential freelance workforce, which in turn supports the wider arts and culture industry.

“The loan agreement requires us to be financially sustainable by the end of the 2021/22 financial year so that we can move towards repaying the loan, together with the interest that it will accrue.  Rather than being a grant, it provides cash flow to help with paying our essential expenditure during the crisis.

“Even when we reopen fully it will take time to return to pre-pandemic income levels.  We will need to continue to make savings, as well as rebuild income, to cover the loan repayments, which will not be completed until 2040. This sadly means that we must complete our formal consultation with staff on proposed redundancies and changes to our terms and conditions.  Combined with the loss of work and lack of income support for many of our freelance colleagues, this is a source of profound regret.

“We would like to thank the RSC community, all those who have sustained us and the wider industry through their donations, memberships, messages, advocacy and patience.  Whilst our theatres are closed, we will continue to reach our audiences, to deliver our education work and undertake cutting edge digital development.

“We will re-open our theatres, and we will welcome people back to our buildings for full performances and for meeting together in our cafe’s, shop, restaurant and exhibitions, providing enormous enjoyment, supporting the regrowth of our local and national economy, and representing the UK on the world stage.  We can’t wait for that time to come.”


Major endowment secures future of RSC Education

Royal Shakespeare Company

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has received a major grant from Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) to support the future of the Company’s highly regarded work in schools across the UK, which sits at the heart of the Company.

The grant includes a   £7 million endowment, with the annual income generated by it used solely to support the RSCs work with young people, teachers and schools.

Alongside the endowment is a £500 000 grant to enable the RSC and its partner theatres and schools to start a longitudinal study into the impact of theatre-based approaches to Shakespeare‘s work on learning outcomes for children and young people. The RSC hopes that the research can make an important contribution to the case for arts rich schools and understanding the value and impact of arts-based learning, particularly for children experiencing disadvantage.  The research questions will be developed collaboratively, and school-led research hubs established nationally.  The research builds on a long-held commitment by PHF and the RSC to teachers as researchers.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation has supported the Company’s national education partnership programme since 2008.  RSC Education has a unique approach of using rehearsal room techniques to unlock Shakespeare for thousands of young people, teachers and parents in their communities.  The Company targets schools in areas of disadvantage and ongoing academic research confirms the positive impact of this work on the life choices of the students involved.

Talking about the major grant, Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of RSC Education said:

“This endowment is extraordinary, especially coming in the midst of the hardest professional and personal test any of us has faced.  It is particularly welcome as schools face significant challenges in supporting the wellbeing needs of young people as well as ensuring basic skills, reading and writing.  No-one has the answers about what the future holds for society, education or arts and culture, but this award means that we can secure a future for this work, knowing that it contributes towards wellbeing, supports young people to find their voice, and discover more about themselves and who they want to be.

“The fact that Shakespeare’s work is a compulsory part of every child’s educational life has defined our educational mission. Every day we have the enormous privilege of working with thousands of inspirational teachers and young people regionally and nationally.  I am constantly in awe of our teacher colleagues who care so much for the children they teach and tirelessly work with us to co-create engaging experiences of Shakespeare’s work in classrooms and on stages.

“We thank Paul Hamlyn Foundation and will use the award responsibly, ensuring that the work it supports is underpinned by values dear to PHF and the RSC: supporting young people to overcome disadvantage and realise their full creative potential”.

The RSC Education approach of building long-term partnerships nationally has positively impacted on the attainment, behaviour and attitudes of the children and young people involved.  Over 500,000 students every year are reached through a range of activity including:

  • Sustained opportunities for the professional learning and development of teachers
  • Workshops and residencies led by artists and teachers
  • RSC productions performed in local schools and theatres through First Encounters with Shakespeare
  • Streaming RSC productions free to schools through nationwide schools’ broadcasts
  • Next Generation talent development programme for young people from backgrounds currently under-represented in the arts and cultural sector
  • Shakespeare Ambassadors programme for young people who want to play an arts leadership role in their schools and communities. This now includes over 700 Shakespeare Ambassadors aged 9 – 18 who have activated Shakespeare inspired arts project in their local communities.

Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive of PHF said:

“At Paul Hamlyn Foundation, our vision is for a just society, in which everyone, especially young people can realise their potential and lead fulfilling and creative lives. Access to arts and culture in school is an important contributor to that vision, and our trustees see that commitment reflected in every aspect of the RSC’s work.

“Education is absolutely at the heart of what the RSC does, enshrined within their practice and their values. We consider their approach to be an exemplar of cultural education practice, with extensive regional theatre and schools-led partnerships that target the schools and young people that might benefit most from their programmes, providing vivid experiences of live theatre and performance.

“We hope that a long-term endowment will help to ensure the future sustainability and innovation of this programme and its continued reach out into communities across the country, especially now. And vitally, we are providing resource to build a rigorous evidence base to demonstrate its impact and benefit. This, in turn, will provide tangible outcomes to support the wider creative sector and help make the case for cultural education practice at the heart of all our schools.

“Without doubt, it has been an extraordinarily challenging year for the cultural sector and the impact of such disruption is still being felt. We have been able to respond with emergency funding streams to be able to reflect that urgent need, but we also feel the need to underpin work we see as critical and influential for the long term. So we are proud and honoured to be able to support the RSC now and for the future.”

Nigel Hugill, RSC Chairman, added.

“The RSC education programme is central to all that the Company stands for.  Our long-time partnership with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation has proved consistently successful in bringing Shakespeare’s complex language to life by making it relevant, resonant and joyful to young people. The Trustees have recognised that success with a wonderfully generous endowment that is beyond extraordinary in these dismal times.  We know the tangible difference that captivating young audiences can make.  The funding safeguards our work in schools for future generations whilst also enabling us to demonstrate through research quantifiable positive impacts into adulthood.  We simply could not be more grateful, nor correspondingly more determined.”

Jacqui O’Hanlon concluded that:

“The importance of arts experiences and subjects has never been greater. It requires a workforce of specialist teachers, skilled freelance artists and a range of locally based theatres and community organisations to sustain it and all the benefits that flow from it.

“We will continue to work across the country in the delivery of arts education work, and we commit to doing everything we can to support the continuation of our complex, rich and diverse theatre arts ecology.”


Celebrate summer in Stratford-Upon-Avon with the RSC

Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Socially distanced ‘pop-up’ Shakespeare in The Dell Gardens from 1 Aug
  • Riverside Café and Rocket re-open for takeaway service
  • RSC Summer School goes online for 2020

As businesses across Stratford-upon-Avon start to re-open their doors this Summer, the Royal Shakespeare Company announced full details of its new outdoor pop-up Shakespeare performances taking place each weekend throughout August in the Dell Gardens.

The RSC continues to explore every opportunity to open its Stratford buildings as soon as possible and fully intends to re-open the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) with new events and re-scheduled performances of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors. Both productions were in rehearsal and due to open in the RST this spring. Further details will be announced soon, but this remains dependent on government advice on social distancing and on whether it is financially viable for the Company to perform to audiences inside our theatres.

RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, said: “Whilst we continue to await news on Stage 5 of the re-opening roadmap and the distribution of the extremely welcome £1.57bn government rescue package for arts and culture, we are delighted to see businesses across the town re-open their doors to locals and visitors from all over the UK. Our buildings may be closed but our commitment to Stratford-upon-Avon is as strong as ever. We are delighted to be working with our current acting company, who would otherwise be performing in The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors, to deliver this unique scratch programme of socially-distanced, outdoor Shakespeare, and though it may not have lights and costume, and the full bells and whistles of a normal RSC show, is sure to be a welcome treat for anyone who, like me, has been missing live theatre these last few months.”

Helen Peters, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s England, said: “The past few months have been testing times for many, but the tourism and arts sectors have been hit massively. Stratford-upon-Avon is synonymous with the RSC and vice versa, so whilst the doors have to remain closed, it is fantastic that the RSC have found these innovative ways to engage with their audience and deliver that magic back for the Town as a whole, its residents and the visitors.

With the summer holiday season just starting, the move could not have come at a better time as many people will be looking for events and activities to do closer to home this year.

Stratford-upon-Avon and the surrounding towns are reawakening and now is the time to show people what we have to offer, so it is perfect that the RSC and The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust along with many other attractions are adapting their offer in order to welcome people back.

‘Shakespeare Snapshots’ sponsored by Darwin Escapes

The RSC is thrilled to announce a new series of free outdoor performances, sponsored by Darwin Escapes, taking place in the Dell Gardens from Sat 1 August.

Running from Friday to Sunday until the end of the month, Shakespeare Snapshots will take place for 45 minutes at 1pm and 3pm each day.

These high-energy family-friendly performances will be different each week, taking inspiration from well-known Shakespearean texts and themes and featuring actors from the RSC’s  postponed productions of The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors.

Featuring a mixture of socially-distanced speeches and scenes from Shakespeare’s best-loved plays, these fun, fast-paced, no-frills performances are the perfect re-introduction to live theatre and are suitable for Shakespeare enthusiasts, newcomers and Stratford day-trippers..

Performances will be first come, first served, with space for up to eight household groups (maximum 6 people each), plus some standing spaces.

Riverside Café and The Rocket

Visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon can also enjoy a daily takeaway service from the RSC’s Riverside Café, which is open from 10am to 4pm.

When in town, visitors can stop off at the Riverside Cafe or ‘Rocket’ ice cream van located at the front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Both will serve a wide range of drinks, ice cream, crisps and cakes. The Riverside Cafe will offer a full range of fair-trade tea and coffee. Alcohol will also be served from 12noon.

Customers are asked that they observe social distancing throughout their visit, using the markings on the pavement and payment is by contactless card only.

RSC Virtual Summer School

Online, the RSC’s 73rd annual Summer School continues with a virtual programme of events which delve deeper into the company’s postponed programme of plays taking place in the Autumn of 2020 and 2021.

The online Summer School will take place from 25 – 27 August 2020 and is priced at £45 for three sessions. Events taking place as part of this year’s programme include The Wars of the Roses – A taste of things to come with RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran and Assistant Director Owen Horsley about Henry VI Parts 1, 2 and 3 and featuring performances by the RSC company, an introduction to The Winter’s Tale with Professor Michael Dobson and The Winter’s Tale – A play for today with RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran in conversation with RSC Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman about her planned production of The Winter’s Tale. This session will include RSC actors sharing some of their work from The Winter’s Tale rehearsal rooms.

RSC actors do their bit to support young people through Covid-19 Crisis

David Tennant

As the Summer term ends and many young people across the UK look ahead to returning to school in September, the Royal Shakespeare Company has today released highlights from its nationwide Homework Help initiative which saw over 100,000 people receive advice on performing and studying Shakespeare from RSC actors and alumni.

Highlights of the campaign include contributions from RSC Associate Artist, David Tennant, who responded to a question about his favourite Hamlet soliloquy, and actor, director and writer Adjoa Andoh, who, in response to the question – Is Shakespeare relevant? – discussed  some of the ways in which Shakespeare can speak to us today, as we navigate how to live in the world amidst the global pandemic, Black Lives Matter and environmental emergencies. Paapa Essiedu, who can currently be seen playing Kwame in I May Destroy You, gave students a masterclass in making characters their own, star of the Harry Potter film series, David Bradley, shared his tips about how to get into theatre whilst RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran gave insights into the downfall of Richard II and the complex morality of Measure for Measure.

WATCH: IS SHAKESPEARE RELEVANT? Actor, director and writer Adjoa Andoh speaks about Shakespeare and homophobia, racism, injustice and love.




The actors, who are currently unable to rehearse or perform on stage, volunteered to share their tips and answer questions about Shakespeare and drama studies whilst under lockdown, helping students, parents and teachers adjust to their new home-schooling environment.

From questions about acting and directing to the life and times of Shakespeare, his comedies, histories and tragedies, topics covered as part of Homework Help have been incredibly diverse; from ‘Did Shakespeare have a happy childhood? to ‘Was Richard III truly villainous’, ‘Why are genders reversed in productions and, does it work?, ‘Are female characters dressed as boys ever convincing?’, ‘If Julius Caesar was a radio play, how would you stage the assassination scene?’, ‘Why does Romeo make such terrible decisions?’, ‘Did Shakespeare write in posh or colloquial English?’, ‘Why should students study Macbeth?, ‘Which sister is in King Lear is worse, Goneril or Regan?’, ‘Did Shakespeare ever visit Scotland’, ‘Why was he obsessed with fairies’ and ‘Was William Shakespeare really a woman?’

Since launching in May 2020, the #RSCHomeworkHelp initiative has received over five hundred submissions from young people studying Shakespeare in the UK and around the world from Australia to New York, Indianapolis and Tanzania.

Since the closure of UK schools on 23 March 2020:

  • The Royal Shakespeare Company’s dedicated education website Shakespeare Learning Zone  has received over 1 million views, an increase of 300% in comparison to the same period last year.
  • David Tennant’s video response to the RSC ‘Homework Help’ campaign received a total of 89k views.
  • 33,000 young people have accessed the RSC’s ‘Live Lesson’ of Macbeth directed by Polly Findlay and featuring Christopher Eccleston
  • The RSC Education pages have received over 8.5K pageviews with downloadable Teachers Packs and a newly launched programme of 15-minute Activity Toolkits for KS3 pupils including digital activities from our education partner, Adobe.
  • Over 280,000 unique users have accessed the RSC’s daily BBC Bitesize Shakespeare Lessons for KS3 & 4. In the last two weeks of June there were a total of 38,000 users to all RSC lessons (both Year 10 and KS3)

Commenting on the campaign, RSC Director of Education, Jacqui O’Hanlon, said; ‘“We have been overwhelmed by the volume and variety of questions received in response to our RSC Homework Help initiative and are incredibly grateful to our RSC artists for giving up their time to help, support and inspire young people through this challenging time.

Every year, RSC Education reaches over 500,000 young people who experience, first-hand, the extraordinary power of Shakespeare’s language in their school and local communities.

Whilst our buildings remain closed and performances postponed, it is important that we continue to offer support to students, families and teachers across the country, whether through initiatives like Homework Help, our  partnership with BBC Bitesize or through tailored packages of support delivered to our  Associate Schools in collaboration with our 12 regional partner theatres across the UK.”


The RSC forms lasting partnerships with regional theatres, community groups and schools around the country and has been working with its network of 12 regional partner theatres and 261 Associate Schools under lockdown to help support a range of distanced learning initiatives with support from members of the RSC’s current acting company.

In Bradford..

Highlights include a collaboration between Bradford College, Bradford Alhambra and RSC actor Andrew French, who was due to appear as Polixenes in The Winter’s Tale with the Royal Shakespeare Company when theatres closed in March. Andrew has been working with members of Bradford College’s ESOL ‘Shakespeare Club’ to lead an online question and answer session with students on Romeo and Juliet. The students, many of whom are asylum seekers or members of the refugee community, all have English as a second language.

In Blackpool..

Elsewhere, in Blackpool, RSC actor Joseph Kloska, who was due to appear as Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, has been working with GCSE students from Highfields Academy to support their study of Macbeth. Students and teachers at Highfields Academy joined Joseph Kloska for a taoilred Q & A via Zoom to share their questions on the play which included: Was Macbeth weak? Macbeth is told his fate, would you want to know yours? Would you say Lady Macbeth is an emotional character? What do you like about Macbeth as a character?

 In Canterbury and Hull…

Other facilitated Q & As include ‘Ask An Actor’ sessions with Joseph Arkley, who recently appeared as Kate in Justin Audibert’s gender-flipped production of The Taming of the Shrew for students of The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury’s Youth Theatre and Associate School, and a ‘Routes into Acting’ Q & A with Laura Elsworthy delivered to students of St Mary’s College, Hull.


The RSC also has a number of existing resources that can be used to support learning in school or at home including:

  • Shakespeare Learning Zone – games, videos, timelines, character, plot summaries and more help to unlock the plays
  • Live Lessons: The RSC’s Live Lessons on Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet are available to watch and take part in at any time. There are also a number of Primary and Secondary lessons co-produced by the RSC and the BBC that can be watched at any time. Click here for more information
  • The RSC YouTube channel: contains a selection of educational videos including introductions to language terms such as iambic pentameter, actor-lead tutorials exploring the techniques they use to get to grips with a text and full online performances including Tim Crouch’sI, Cinna.
  • Teacher resources are free to download from the RSC website including teacher packs by play and Key Stage.
  • Home-educators can also access up to seventeen RSC productions in partnership with Digital Theatre+ alongside supporting resources including backstage insights, practitioner interviews, written analysis and over 450+ productions of the world’s finest theatre.

The RSC is a charity with a mission to transform lives through amazing experiences of Shakespeare and great theatre. The financial impact of temporary closure for the RSC, and theatres across the country, is considerable and damaging, and alongside many theatres the RSC is urgently appealing for support through the Keep You RSC campaign to:

  • Keep Your RSC educating
  • Keep Your RSC transforming lives
  • Keep Your RSC open for everyone

The impact of school closures means that any donations received will make a difference for young people, particularly those with less support at home.

For more information on how to  help Keep Your RSC educating, visit

RSC media statement in response to the government announcement of investment to protect Britain’s world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions

Royal Shakespeare Company

RSC Executive Director, Catherine Mallyon and Artistic Director, Gregory Doran said;

“We are very pleased and relieved to hear news of the government’s support package and investment in the arts and culture sector during this critical time. Thank you to the DCMS, HM Treasury and the many people in the sector who have worked together to demonstrate the critical role the arts play in our economic wellbeing and public life.  We hope this investment will provide meaningful support for the whole sector: for the skilled workforce who create world-class theatre, and for theatres and companies at every scale throughout the UK.  We are all ready to be part of a powerful civic, emotional and economic recovery for the country, and will be invaluable contributors to the UK’s ability to re-emerge from the pandemic locally, nationally and on a world stage.

 “We look forward to receiving the detail of the support package when we will see in full how this will help the survival of the sector, and support our next steps to welcoming audiences back to live theatre. ”

RSC’s 2016 production of Hamlet with Paapa Essiedu to be broadcast on BBC Four this June

Paapa Essiedu

Macbeth with Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack broadcast this Sunday 14 June at 9.30pm & Simon Godwin’s 2016 production of Hamlet with Paapa Essiedu broadcast Sunday 21 June at 9pm on BBC Four.

The Royal Shakespeare Company production of Macbeth (2018) will be broadcast on BBC Four this Sunday 14 June at 9.30pm as part of Culture in Quarantine. This will be followed by Simon Godwin’s landmark production of Hamlet (2016) with Paapa Essiedu in the title role on Sunday 21 June at 9pm.

Directed by Polly Findlay with Chris Eccleston and Niamh Cusack, this contemporary production of Shakespeare’s darkest psychological thriller premiered at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in Spring 2018 and transferred to the Barbican in November of the same year.

Macbeth is designed by Fly Davis with lighting by Lizzie Powell and music by Rupert Cross. Sound is by Christopher Shutt and movement is by Aline David with fights by Kate Waters and illusions by Chris Fisher.

Full cast comprises David Acton (Duncan); Afolabi Alli (Company); Donna Banya (Donalbain/Gentlewoman); Stevie Basaula (Bloody Captain/2nd Murderer); Edward Bennett (Macduff); Katy Brittain (Doctor); Raif Clarke (Boy); Niamh Cusack (Lady Macbeth); Paul Dodds (Chamberlain 1); Christopher Eccleston (Macbeth); Josh Finan (Company); Bally Gill (Ross); Mariam Haque (Lady MacDuff); Michael Hodgson (Porter); John Macaulay (Chamberlain/Lord); Luke Newberry (Malcolm); Tom Padley (1st Murderer); Tim Samuels (Lennox) and Raphael Sowole (Banquo).

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2016 production of Hamlet, directed by Simon Godwin with Paapa Essiedu in the title role, opened the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death in 2016 in Stratford-upon-Avon. Paapa Essiedu later reprised the role for the 2018 UK tour and in Washington DC.

Director Simon Godwin said: “I wanted to find a context where, as a character, Hamlet could feel dislocated, where he could feel conflicted by the demands of his ancestors against the pressure to find a new way of thinking…I began to imagine a Denmark re-conceived as modern state influenced by the ritual, beauty and cosmology of West Africa.”

Hamlet is designed by Paul Wills with lighting by Paul Anderson. Music for the production is composed by Jamiroquai percussionist Sola Akingbola. Sound is by Christopher Shutt.

The full cast comprises of Hiran Abeysekera (Horatio), Romayne Andrews (Osric), Doreene Blackstock (Player Queen), Eke Chukwu (Voltimand), James Cooney (Rosencrantz), Bethan Cullinane (Guildenstern), Marième Diouf (Cornelia / Player), Paapa Essiedu (Hamlet), Kevin N Golding (Bernardo / Priest / Player King), Marcus Griffiths (Laertes), Byron Mondahl (Professor of Wittenberg / English Ambassador), Tanya Moodie (Gertrude), Theo Ogundipe (Fortinbras / Marcellus / Lucianus), Cyril Nri (Polonius), Natalie Simpson (Ophelia), Clarence Smith (Claudius), Ewart James Walters (Ghost / Gravedigger) and Temi Wilkey (Player).

Other confirmed RSC titles being broadcast on BBC Four this June include Much Ado About Nothing (2014, directed by Christopher Luscombe, with Edward Bennett as Benedick and Michelle Terry as Beatrice); Othello (2015, directed by Iqbal Khan, with Hugh Quarshie in the title role and Lucian Msamati as Iago) and The Merchant of Venice (2015, directed by Polly Findlay, with Makram J. Khoury as Shylock).

All six RSC Culture in Quarantine productions are currently part of the UK education syllabus and the broadcast will be supported by a week-long programme of GCSE lesson plans themed around Romeo and Juliet taking place from Monday 15 – Friday 19 June as part of BBC Bitesize Daily.

Focussing on Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, the lessons will offer special insights from RSC actors and directors about how to decode Shakespeare’s language and bring 400-year-old plays to life for today’s audiences.

Details of future broadcast details will be announced in due course. Please check the BBC Culture in Quarantine website for further details.

RSC actors help students studying Shakespeare under lockdown

Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Tamsin Greig, Noma Dumezweni and Patrick Stewart launch RSC Homework Help – the chance for students UK-wide to get RSC actors to help unlock Shakespeare’s plays
  • David Bradley, Paapa Essiedu, Niamh Cusack and David Tennant are some of the actors signed up to support the RSC initiative
  • Unique RSC Shakespeare teaching weeks launched in partnership with BBC Bitesize Daily, as part of BBC’s biggest education push ever

 As part of the newly launched Royal Shakespeare Community initiative, artists from the Royal Shakespeare Company, who are currently unable to rehearse or perform, will lend a hand in helping to unlock Shakespeare for thousands of children and young people studying at home.

Launching today, with a personal message from RSC Acting Alumni Tamsin Greig, Patrick Stewart and Noma Dumezweni, the RSC’s  Homework Help initiative gives young people everywhere the opportunity to pose  questions about Shakespeare and drama studies to working actors and alumni from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Those responding to questions and offering top tips on how to tackle the language include David Bradley – star of the Harry Potter film series, Doctor Who and Broadchurch star David Tennant, Paapa Essiedu who played the title role of Hamlet in Simon Godwin’s 2016 production for the RSC (soon to be broadcast on the BBC) and RSC Associate Artists Niamh Cusack and Charlotte Arrowsmith, who recently made RSC history as the first deaf actor to understudy a hearing role in Justin Audibert’s 2019 production of The Taming of the Shrew.

Those wishing to pose questions  are asked to email them to, or share their questions using  the hashtag #RSCHomeworkHelp on Twitter or Instagram by no later than Sun 10 May. A selection of video or written answers from RSC actors will be shared via the RSC website from 11 May to coincide with the first BBC Bitesize Teaching Shakespeare week which will focus on Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet.

RSC Director of Education, Jacqui O’Hanlon said: “As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and the closure of UK schools, many young people will be working from home. We know this can feel isolating and demotivating and we want to ensure we do everything we can to support and inspire them.

“Every year, RSC Education reaches over 500,000 young people who experience, first-hand, the extraordinary power of Shakespeare’s language in their school and the local community.

“As children and parents across the UK adjust to their new ‘virtual classrooms’, this gives us a new challenge and opportunity to extend our support and to work with artists from the RSC’s performance history. They will answer any questions young people want answered about Shakespeare and theatre generally.”

Artistic Director Gregory Doran added: “Although the RSC is in lockdown and operating with a skeleton team, it is important that we continue to offer support to students, families and teachers across the country. Our acting companies and Associate Artists are helping us to deliver ‘Homework Help’ with a difference, serving young people in their time of need and unlocking the transformative power of Shakespeare for a generation who are living through unprecedented times.

“To help support this work, we are asking people to consider making a donation to our home learning programme. We understand it is a difficult time for many people. However, the impact of school closures means that every gift will make a very real difference to thousands of young people. To make a gift go to We also encourage you to do anything you can to support your local theatre wherever it is in the country, helping ensure it can continue to share great work with its audiences.”.

“The RSC is grateful for the range of funders including the Arts Council, who support this vital work.”



Coinciding with the start of the new school term, the Royal Shakespeare Company will also play host to a Live Lesson of Macbeth on You Tube between 11am-12pm on Tues 28 April. Students, teachers and parents across the UK will get the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the 2018 production directed by Polly Findlay and starring Chris Eccleston and Niamh Cusack as Lord and Lady Macbeth.  They will see first-hand how the acting company and creative team approached key sections of the play and why certain decisions were made.

Suitable for KS2 – KS4, the live lesson will be accompanied by a supporting Q & A with actor Niamh Cusack and Assistant Director Peter Bradley, focusing on key speeches from Act 1, Scene 5 and the role of Lady Macbeth. After the lesson, RSC actors Joseph Arkley, Edward Bennett, Niamh Cusack and Laura Elsworthy will be on hand to answer any questions pupils may have about the play and performing at the RSC.

The Live Lesson will be accompanied by a newly launched series of 15-minute Activity Toolkits focused around the six RSC productions now available on BBC Iplayer as part of Culture in Quarantine.  These include Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing and The Merchant of Venice (see full detail below).

Home-learners can explore games, images, videos and galleries arranged by play title by accessing the award-winning Shakespeare Learning Zone, an interactive web resource featuring comprehensive materials arranged by play title. A selection of educational videos is also available to access via the RSC YouTube channel. These include introductions to language terms such as iambic pentameter, actor-lead tutorials exploring the techniques they use to get to grips with a text and full online performances including Tim Crouch’s I, Cinna.

Teachers can also access a range of supporting resources via the RSC website including teacher packs by play and Key Stage.

Schools, colleges and universities can also take advantage of an extended trial of Drama Online before the end of May 2020, featuring twenty-two titles from The RSC Live Collection. Home-educators can also access up to seventeen RSC productions in partnership with Digital Theatre + alongside supporting resources including backstage insights, practitioner interviews, written analysis and over 450+ productions of the world’s finest theatre.



Following this week’s launch of BBC Bitesize’s daily programme of online lessons, the RSC is working in partnership with the BBC to deliver two-focused weeks of GCSE lesson plans themed around Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice,  The Shakespeare weeks take place between Monday 11 – Friday 15 May and Monday 15 – Friday 19 June.

The weeks will involve daily Shakespeare lessons developed by the RSC for Year 10 students to help unlock Shakespeare’s work and language. Focussing on Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, the lessons will offer special insights from RSC actors and directors about how to decode Shakespeare’s language and bring 400-year-old plays to life for today’s audiences.

BBC Bitesize Daily is the BBC’s enhanced offering designed to support the curriculum and educational needs of children across the nation during the current Coronavirus pandemic. It will deliver a tailored day of learning across BBC iPlayer, Red Button, BBC Bitesize website and app, BBC Four and BBC Sounds, with content relevant to the curriculum across the UK. Together, this comprehensive package is aimed at minimising disruption to children’s education and providing rhythm and routine in these challenging times.

The Shakespeare teaching weeks are in addition to the six RSC plays that will be broadcast by the BBC as part of its Culture in Quarantine programme. The plays, which have all been chosen to link into the curriculum, include Hamlet (2016, directed by Simon Godwin, with Paapa Essiedu in the title role); Macbeth (2018, directed by Polly Findlay, with Christopher Ecclestone in the title role and Niamh Cusack as Lady Macbeth); Much Ado About Nothing (2014, directed by Christopher Luscombe, with Edward Bennett as Benedick and Michelle Terry as Beatrice); Othello (2015, directed by Iqbal Khan, with Hugh Quarshie in the title role and Lucian Msamati as Iago); Romeo and Juliet (2018, directed by Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, with Bally Gill as Romeo and Karen Fishwick as Juliet); and The Merchant of Venice (2015, directed by Polly Findlay, with Makram J. Khoury as Shylock).