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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
RSC stalls on demolition plans
The RSC redevelopment plans
The RSC had revealed redevelopment plans in 2001
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has said plans to knock down its Stratford theatre are not definite, despite announcing a scheme to level the site last year.

A 100m plan to replace the company's landmark theatre in the town with a "Shakespeare village" was announced by the company's outgoing director Adrian Noble in October 2001.

Adrian Noble
Adrian Noble: RSC artistic director for 11 years
But the company now said that demolition scheme was always only one of a number of options, and that the final decision has not been taken.

Noble, embattled after heavy criticism, announced that he was leaving the company last week.

Dame Judi Dench and Prince Charles were among those who were reported to have voiced concerns over the company's future.

In October, Noble said the plans for the new "village" came at the conclusion of a feasibility study, and were being submitted to the Arts Council.

Now the RSC said the site will still be redeveloped - but that may not mean the destruction of their current Grade II*-listed home.

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford, was built in 1932
"One of the options does include knocking down the theatre," a spokeswoman told BBC News Online.

"That's not definite, that's just one of the options we're looking at. That was always the case.

"That has not changed because Adrian's leaving. We need to redevelop that Royal Shakespeare Theatre site."

She said 30 specialists and cost consultants were currently working on the project.

"I can't really say what the other options are because we don't know. We're looking at all the various options about redeveloping the site.

Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh has been named as a possible successor of Noble
"It won't be until the end of the year that we put the planning application through with specific ideas about what we want to do."

In October 2001, Mr Noble said the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, built in 1932, was "unwelcoming" and should be demolished and replaced with a new 1,050-seat venue.

The auditorium has long been criticised by actors for its lack of intimacy. The balcony is further from the stage than in any other theatre in the country.

Mr Noble said at the time: "At the moment many young people sit a long way from the stage and can feel like second class citizens.

"Making our theatres more accessible, more welcoming and more lively throughout the day is a crucial part of the mix."

But the plans were fiercely criticised by conservationists.

See also:

18 Oct 01 | England
RSC to demolish Stratford theatre
24 Apr 02 | Arts
Drama on and off stage at RSC
25 Apr 02 | Arts
RSC: The runners and riders
26 Mar 02 | Arts
RSC plans get cautious welcome
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