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Wednesday, 28 March, 2001, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
RSC eyes new home
Royal Shakespeare Company theatre
The RSC theatre was built in 1932
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has taken the first steps towards finding a new location for its main theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The RSC has launched a feasibility study designed to find a new home to replace its current main theatre, which was built in 1932.

We have got to be realistic and look at the different ways of attracting new audiences

RSC spokeswoman
The company is considering a number of options, including demolishing part of the current theatre, redeveloping the theatre and re-locating to one of 12 possible sites in the town on land the RSC owns.

An RSC spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "We are looking at a number of sites for development across Stratford.

"We own 14 acres of land in Stratford and we are obliged to consider all possible options open to us and we want to be bold about our vision."

Listed status

Demolishing the 1932 building is a possibility, but the RSC is constrained because it has grade II listed status.

The spokeswoman added: "We have been public about this for a number of years.

RSC production of A Russian in the Woods
A scene from the RSC production of A Russian in the Woods
"We are working closely with English Heritage about the whole development plan."

The RSC feels it needs to move home because it has outgrown the 1932 theatre, designed by Elisabeth Scott.

"The main theatre was built in 1932 and it is recognised as having inherent difficulties," said the spokeswoman.

She added: "We want to create the best Shakespeare playing house for our audiences but the main theatre has problems in terms of access and facilities.

"It was originally built for 1,000 people but has been expanded to cope with 1,300 - but it does not have the facilities."

Key role

The RSC plays a key role in the economy of Stratford, which receives about three million visitors a year.

Our aim is making the best theatre for Shakespeare

RSC spokeswoman

"There are environmental, heritage, audience and traffic considerations," said the spokeswoman.

The company has been allocated 50m in lottery money and has to match that total through its own fund raising efforts.

The RSC wants to improve the experience for visitors but does not feel any development would overshadow its core role of staging Shakespeare.

She said: "We have got to be realistic and look at the different ways of attracting new audiences.

"But our aim is making the best theatre for Shakespeare."

See also:

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