The Royal Shakespeare Company has a new temporary theatre. It received planning permission on 10th March 2005 from the Stratford-upon-Avon District Council. It is known as the Courtyard Theatre and was completed in June 2006. It has been home to the RSC’s main ensemble since 2007and was used during the Complete Works Festival from July 7th 2006, starting with Michael Boyd’s Henry VI trilogy.
Work started on site in the summer of 2005 and construction to opening took just over 11 months. The Courtyard Theatre was designed as an extension to The Other Place – the RSC’s 150-seat studio theatre. The new theatre has a new 1,050 seat auditorium, while the existing Other Place auditorium has been transformed into foyer spaces, cloakroom, bar areas, shop, booking office and call centre, dressing rooms and band rehearsal space.
This new building has external walls built of ‘Corten A’ steel sheets creating a sound-proof auditorium to meet the RSC’s high acoustic requirements. This recyclable material was chosen for its no-maintenance surface and red colour which blends with the surrounding buildings and the town.
The interior of the walls is golden ply, and the red auditorium seating ‘floats’ inside this box. The thrust-stage auditorium design is based on an original concept by the RSC.
The entire project was realised for £6 million.
At the beginning of the project Michael Boyd, Artistic Director said:
“The Courtyard Theatre will be an exciting theatrical space and a prototype for the stage in the new Royal Shakespeare.”
A year later, at the end of the project Vikki Heywood, Chief Executive said:
“The Courtyard Theatre is all that it should be – beautiful, fun, inspiring and successful – indeed everything that I could have hoped for.”
“It’s not often that architects exceed expectations – if only because most clients’ hopes are often unreasonably high. Our hopes were exactly that – and we got more, and better, than we bargained for, on time and on budget. Watching the first public performance from the furthest seat was proof that we had achieved our aims for our audience, in a splendid and charismatic setting.” Sir Christopher Bland, Chairman RSC