RSC to demolish its celebrated Stratford theatre

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The Independent Culture

The Royal Shakespeare Company is to demolish its riverside theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. The 1932 Art Deco listed building will be bulldozed as part of a grand plan by the RSC's director, Adrian Noble, for a £100m "theatre village" on the banks of the Avon.

The RSC has long considered making changes to the 1,500-seat Royal Shakespeare Theatre, one of Britain's most famous cultural landmarks, but had insisted it would only modernise the auditorium, and would keep the façade, foyers and grand staircase.

Now The Independent has learnt that Mr Noble will announce today that he has decided to build a new theatre.In addition, one of the RSC's other venues in the town, The Other Place, will be expanded, and visitors will be able to take part in workshops and special events before they see a play.

The main theatre, a Grade II* listed building, cannot be torn down unless it can be shown that it is no longer fit for its purpose. The RSC has been wooing bodies such as English Heritage and The Twentieth Century Society to support its move, as well as Stratford's district council, to which it will submit a planning application next year.

The theatre has been the venue for performances by the likes of Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft and Robert Stephens, and seminal productions including Peter Hall's Wars of the Roses and Peter Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But in recent years it has lost its appeal for audiences, actors and directors as a performing space. The balcony, in particular,is further from the stage than its equivalent in virtually any other theatre in Britain.