Noble slates critics of RSC plans

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The Independent Culture

Adrian Noble, the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, has accused opponents of the radical reforms he plans for Stratford of wanting the Bard's home town to be "preserved in aspic".

In an article in The Independent today, Mr Noble responds to the chorus of criticism from distinguished actors and directors that has greeted his intention to demolish the present Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and replacing it with a more intimate venue.

"It sometimes feels like critics of the changes at the RSC would like preserved in aspic an idea of Stratford in the 1950s, where the great actors of the day gave their 'definitive' performances", he says.

"Yet if those pioneers in the Sixties had not thrown off the shackles of high culture, theatre would have died. Our challenge now is to do the same for a generation raised on the screen. The strength of theatre remains not in spectacle, which is now readily available at the click of a mouse button or TV remote, but in the intimacy of the event."

Admitting that his plans have caused a furore, Mr Noble says: "In 12 months, the RSC has turned from the darlings of British culture into one of its pariahs."

The House of Commons Select Committee on media and culture will publish its report on the RSC later today. At the weekend the actors Sir Donald Sinden and Sir Michael Gambon criticised Noble's plans for demolishing the theatre. Sir Donald called it "a disgraceful waste of money" and Sir Michael described it as "preposterous".