New Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford
On: 01/12/2010 In: Heart of England stories
Well,  not quite new;    the  Art Deco Theatre, dating from 1932,  was sufficiently popular & well regarded by artistes & public alike that they were not able to demolish it as they wanted to.

When the first Shakespeare Memorial Theatre burned down in 1926,  it is said that George Bernard Shaw sent a one-word telegram: "Congratulations!"  It was more than a little ugly from any point of view.  The competition to replace it was won, controversially, by a woman architect (pretty unusual then), Elisabeth Scott.  Her design, chosen by the panel from a large number submitted, was the only modern one & this too attracted immediate controversy because the local people found the functional brick building to be "Not magnificent enough" & nicknamed it "The Jam Factory".

Nevertheless, the theatre, for all its faults, is held in enormous affection by most of the actors who have ever appeared there,  many of the greatest, in fact, began their theatrical careers there as spear-carriers or maids. Thus, Adrian Noble's desire to demolish it & replace it with a modernistic glass box met a vast level of resistance from those who loved the old place.

In the end, the auditorium has been remodelled, moving the cheapest seats (Half a Crown when I was a schoolboy) from a vast distance away, closer to the action, but losing 400 of the former 1400 in the process, in order to accommodate a huge thrust stage.  There are new entrances, bars, loos, & a much more spacious glass foyer & ticket desk, making the public more comfortable & less cramped.

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