Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK

The new Royal Shakespeare Theatre was four years in the making and much longer in the planning. In collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company and architects Bennetts Associates, Charcoalblue led the auditorium design, the backstage planning and the complete design of the theatre technical systems. The scheme was a direct response to RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd’s unwavering vision for an intimate thrust-stage arena in which to perform Shakespeare.

The new theatre nestles comfortably in the void left by the demolished cinema-style auditorium, which sat between the Art Deco foyer at the front of the building, and the proscenium arch and stage at the back. Inside, the intimate stripped-back auditorium provides a three-dimensional universe for the dramatic treatment of Shakespeare’s universal themes. Wraparound seating allows for an immediate contact between audience and players, as well as audience and audience, and gives a rich dimension to heaven and hell, light and dark, silence and thundering sound. It’s all about shared experience -and the success of that clearly lies in audience involvement and reaction.

“Charcoalblue theatre consultants have created a superb technically advanced drum-form auditorium with a deep thrust stage and 1,040 seats in three tiers, none more than 15m from the front edge of the forestage”

Jay Merrick, The Independent

“Bennetts' and Charcoalblue's transformation of the RST has achieved the contradictory; a marriage of old and new, epic and intimate, statement architecture yet welcoming building.”

Emma Pomfret, Auditoria

“Stepping out onto the thrust stage for our first performance was like being given a hug by the audience”

James Tucker, RSC actor on playing Oswald in King Lear

Charcoalblue’s uniquely collaborative and theatrical design process developed and matured hand-in-hand with the design of the new theatre, working closely with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s directors, designers, technicians and performers.

Project Details

Client

Royal Shakespeare Company

Architect

Bennetts Associates

Cost

£112m

Completed

2010

Awards

Project of the Year Building Awards 2011

FX Design Award Winner, 2011

Building Construction Industry Awards Winner, 2011

RIBA Regional Award 2011

Stirling Prize Shotlisted 2011

Supporting the industry internationally since 2004

The Queen's Awards for Enterprise: International Trade 2020 UK Theatre Tonic ITEAC Theatres Trust Theatre Communications Group
Gavin Green

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