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The Ensemble

Episode 1 of 3

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 05 April 2011

James Naughtie goes backstage as the Royal Shakespeare Company celebrates its 50th birthday and reopens its main theatre in Stratford upon Avon. Part 1.The Ensemble.

The RSC is now so much a feature of the British cultural landscape that it is easy to imagine it has been around ever since Shakespeare wrote his plays. Far from it. In this three-part series, James Naughtie explores how the company first came into being in 1961; the creation of its unique ensemble system; its landmark productions; the opening production in April 2011 in its newly built state-of-the-art auditorium within the historic theatre on the banks of the Avon in Stratford.

This series has enjoyed an exclusive breadth of access to the key players of the last half century. It includes the voices of all five of the artistic directors - Peter Hall, Trevor Nunn, Terry Hands, Adrian Noble and Michael Boyd; luminaries such as Peter Brook, Cicely Berry, Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart and David Tennant; not to mention many members of the wider team of artists, technicians and crafts-people who support the actors on stage. James Naughtie explores not only the history of the company but also why the work it does matters to the British cultural scene.

In the first programme, James follows Michael Boyd and company as they prepare the new production - Macbeth - which will formally open the new theatre in April 2011.

Producer: Beaty Rubens



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