Royal Shakespeare Company

Royal Shakespeare Company
(abbr the RSC)
a leading British theatre company that performs plays by Shakespeare and other writers. It was formed in 1960 and its first director was Peter Hall. The company performs regularly at theatres in London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle and Plymouth, and its present director is Michael Boyd.

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▪ British theatrical company
formerly (1875–1961)  Shakespeare Memorial Company  
 English theatrical company with a long history of Shakespearean performance. The company is based in Stratford-upon-Avon, where it maintains three venues—the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Swan Theatre (fashioned after the Elizabethan-era theatre of the same name), and the Other Place (a studio theatre). Its repertoire continues to centre on works by William Shakespeare (Shakespeare, William) and other Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights. Modern works are also produced.

      The company was founded in 1875 and was originally attached to Stratford's Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (opened 1879; destroyed by fire 1926), which had been built through the efforts of Charles Edward Flower. This theatre was the site of an annual festival of Shakespeare's plays, and its resident, seasonal company was called the Shakespeare Memorial Company. In 1925 the company, which had by then become one of the most prestigious in Great Britain, was granted a royal charter. The new Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (opened 1932) was renamed the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1961, and the company too was renamed. Under the direction of Peter Hall, the RSC expanded its repertoire.

 At the same time it established a second unit in London, which it maintained for several decades at the Barbican and which enabled its players to develop into a professional ensemble working year-round. Although it no longer has residence at a particular theatre, the RSC maintains a base in London as well as (since 1977) in Newcastle, and the company also tours internationally.

Additional Reading
Micheline Steinberg (comp.), Flashback: A Pictorial History, 1879–1979; One Hundred Years of Stratford-upon-Avon and the Royal Shakespeare Company (1985); Robert Shaughnessy, Representing Shakespeare: England, History, and the RSC (1994).

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Universalium. 2010.

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