Prince of Wales support for theatre at RSC’s AGM

Published: 10 November 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

Lucy Phelps (Isabella) and Sandy Grierson (Angelo) in Measure for Measure Credit: Helen Maybanks
Debbie Korley (Mercy Pryce) in The Whip Credit: Steve Tanner
John Kani and Antony Sher in Kunene and the King Credit: Ellie Kurttz

HRH the Prince of Wales has offered his ongoing support to the Royal Shakespeare Company and the wider theatre industry as they continue to battle the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at the RSC’s annual general meeting, the company's president the Prince of Wales said, "it's only when you haven't got access to arts and cultural activities that you realise how much you miss them and also that you realise just how much of an impact that must be having on all of those wonderful people who are part of the great theatrical community, whose whole lives and livelihoods revolve around being able to express their talent and their art.

“I wanted to say, more than anything else, how much admiration I have for the amazing resilience and professionalism of the company as it deals with the most challenging period possible in its history. I want to congratulate everybody involved, from every corner of the RSC, for managing to continue to produce performance of some kind in such difficult circumstances.

“I wish the company every success and the swiftest possible return to some sort of normality as the nation recovers from this extraordinarily difficult period, when the Royal Shakespeare Company's inspiration will be needed more than ever."

The Prince of Wales also spoke of the RSC's “invaluable contribution” to the nation's cultural life as well as his admiration for the company's ongoing efforts to support young people and teachers around the country during the crisis through initiatives such as the Shakespeare Learning Zone web site and the Homework Help appeal. More than 100,000 young people received advice on performing and studying Shakespeare at home and in the classroom from RSC actors and alumni.

Artistic director Gregory Doran commented, "at the point at which our theatres were forced to close in March, we were in Newcastle Theatre Royal with Measure for Measure, As You Like It and The Taming of the Shrew on our UK tour.

“In Stratford, the get-out of The Boy in the Dress was underway and a West End transfer was planned. The company in the Swan Theatre were in the last week of Juliet Gilkes Romero’s The Whip and King John, with the third play in that repertoire A Museum in Baghdad by Hannah Khalil due to have a London run at The Kiln Theatre. In The Other Place, Projekt Europa was in the final stages of rehearsals.

“At the Cambridge Theatre, Matilda The Musical was to move into its 10th year in the West End while at the Ambassadors Theatre Kunene and the King by John Kani was entering its last fortnight of performances.

“We look forward with optimism to 2021 when our postponed productions of The Winter's Tale and The Comedy of Errors finally make it to the stage, and for Matilda The Musical to reopen at the Cambridge Theatre alongside other shows to reignite the West End economy."

The company is planning to hold an extraordinary general meeting in January 2021 at which the RSC's audited accounts for the 2019–20 financial year will be available.