RSC theatres stay closed as redundancy talks start

Published: 28 August 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

Closed until 2021: the RSC theatres, Stratford Credit: Sam Allard

The Royal Shakespeare Company has confirmed that its theatres will not open for full productions before 2021 and a formal consultation with employees about redundancies will begin in October.

In a statement, RSC artistic director Gregory Doran and executive director Catherine Mallyon said it was clear that the ongoing pandemic and the continued need for social distancing meant that full productions could not go ahead before the new year.

“We very much hope that the government review of social distancing measures in November will bring positive news for the industry and provide a timeline for when we can welcome our audiences back into our theatres again.

“It is with great sadness that we have now reached the stage where a formal consultation process with employees must take place to safeguard the long-term future of the company. We had hoped that things would have become more positive by now, but this has not been the case.

“With the end of the coronavirus job retention scheme in sight, we have given advance notice to the trade unions and our employees of a formal consultation process which will begin in October.”

The statement continues: “we also confirmed that, as there will be no work available from 1 November, we will be unable to pay casual workers and those employed on variable hours contracts. Variable hours colleagues will remain employed and casual workers will stay on our books for when work opportunities return in the future.”

Although the RSC’s theatres are closed, its acting company is working on events including a programme of outdoor Shakespeare in Stratford. The company’s work with teachers and schools to support children and young people as they return to school is also ongoing.