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The Royal Shakespeare Company
Thanks to the determination of a Stratford brewer in 1875, an international campaign raised the resources to build the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1879, in Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare's birthplace.
In 1925, the theatre received a Royal Charter but the building was destroyed by fire a year later. A new Shakespeare Memorial Theatre was built and was opened in 1932 by the Prince of Wales on 23rd April, Shakespeare's birthday.
There was still no Royal Shakespeare Company until it was formed in 1960. The theatre was then renamed to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1961. Now considered the centre of the Shakespearian universe, the RST has three theatres.
The Box Tree restaurant overlooks the river Avon and there is, of course an obligatory gift shop. It is possible to buy almost anything Shakespearian, from scripts to bookmarks, teacups to T-shirts.
Also on overlooking the river Avon is the Swan Theatre which is based on an Elizabethan playhouse and was opened in 1986. It is built inside the shell of the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre which was destroyed by fire in 1926.
It is widely assumed that the RSC is confined to producing Shakespeare, but this is not so. Other productions include European drama, new writing and classical theatre of all periods. For instance, "A Patriot for Me" (1965, John Osborne) is about a dedicated officer in the Austro-Hungarian army of the 1900s. The classics include Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol", Lord Byron's "Cain" and Henrick Ibsen's "Peer Gynt".
In London, The Royal Shakespeare Company are no longer resident at the Barbican Theatre, but still have the occasional production there. They also plan to use the Albery Theatre as the London venue for a six month season of Shakespeare's Tragedies and Hecuba by Euripides, running from November 2004 to May 2005. Also, the Soho Theatre are to host a three week festival of new work from the RSC in March 2005.
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