Royal Shakespeare Company to perform for live audiences

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image captionThe RSC announced plans for its 'Garden Theatre' a year after the pandemic forced it to close venues

The Royal Shakespeare Company is set to resume plays for live audiences in a specially constructed "Garden Theatre".

A performance area, designed to be Covid-safe, is due at Stratford-upon-Avon's Swan Gardens, a site overlooked by the main performance venue.

The RSC is to resume its live programme with The Comedy of Errors, which was postponed when venues closed amid the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

It has also announced a televised production of The Winter's Tale.

The BBC broadcast is planned for April.

The RSC closed its theatres on 17 March 2020 and has not been able to reopen since.

image captionThe RSC's specially-constructed outdoor performance space will be in the Swan Gardens

"These have and will continue to be challenging times, but we look forward with optimism," said RSC artistic director, Gregory Doran.

"Our doors closed as The Winter's Tale and The Comedy of Errors were preparing to open.

"The outdoor theatre gives us the security that we can perform to good-sized audiences as we emerge from the pandemic."

The government announced last month plans for lifting lockdown, setting a reopening of outdoor theatres for 17 May at the earliest.

The open-air Comedy of Errors production is set to take place in the summer, with further details and programming due to be announced next month.

Stratford-upon-Avon has been hit hard by the coronavirus as so much of its economy relies on tourism.

"We will play our part in the recovery of our towns and cities and the wellbeing of our communities," Mr Doran said.

"And we cannot wait to welcome audiences back."

image copyrightRoyal Shakespeare Company
image captionThe televised production of The Winter's Tale will be set across 16 years, from the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth to the moon landings

The Winter's Tale will retain its full original cast and has been re-rehearsed adhering to strict safety measures as well as being adapted for TV.

It is due to be broadcast on BBC Four in April around Shakespeare's birthday, although a transmission date is yet to be finalised.

The play's director, Erica Whyman, said The Winter's Tale, with its themes of family, truth and justice was "the most perfect play to be rehearsing as we begin to believe in recovery".

She said: "We have been working on this play for 15 months - with our own wide gaps - and we have learned so much about what the play means."

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