Cultural Playing Field

RSC Open Stages takes shape by Robin Simpson
April 27, 2011, 10:47 am
Filed under: meetings | Tags: , , , , ,

RSC Open Stages logoOn Tuesday I went to Stratford-upon-Avon looking forward to a peak behind the scenes at the new Royal Shakespeare Theatre but came back buzzing with excitement about our RSC Open Stages project. (And the theatre was quite exciting too!) Open Stages grew out of discussions between Voluntary Arts and the Royal Shakespeare Company about how best to involve amateur theatre in the 2012 World Shakespeare Festival (part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad). After a planning weekend involving 65 representatives of voluntary arts umbrella bodies, in Stratford in November 2009, Open Stages began to take shape as stand-alone project, funded by The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. Ian Wainwright was appointed as the RSC’s Open Stages Producer in August 2010 and Ian has been working closely with Voluntary Arts and the amateur theatre umbrella bodies to develop the project. At the end of 2010 we invited applications from amateur groups and I can now reveal that 300 amateur productions across the UK have been chosen to be part of RSC Open Stages. These 300 amateur groups, who are creating productions of Shakespeare plays or Shakespeare-related performances, will be branded and marketed by the RSC and will be invited to take-part in a series of 10 regional and national skills-sharing weekends run by the RSC and 10 partner professional theatres. Within each region and nation, several amateur productions will be chosen to be showcased at the partner theatres in Spring 2012 and 10 of these will go forward to perform in Stratford in July 2012 as part of the official World Shakespeare Festival, alongside the RSC’s own productions and professional companies from across the world. The 300 amateur RSC Open Stages productions include performances in forests, castles and stately homes, performances by the John Lewis Partnership amateur dramatics group and by a RAF theatre group involving service personnel just returned from Afghanistan. The response to our call for applications was far in excess of our expectations and Open Stages looks like being a wonderful national celebration of amateur Shakespeare. Ian and I were joined on Tuesday by Tabitha Allum, the Chief Executive of Stagetext, to discuss the use of captioning for the hard of hearing by amateur theatre groups. We agreed to offer all the groups involved in Open Stages the opportunity to receive training from Stagetext in how to introduce live captioning to their performances.

More details of RSC Open Stages at and lots of discussion at

Robin Simpson.

The RSC Open Stages map

The RSC Open Stages map

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