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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
RSC drops plan to scrap theatre
Royal Shakespeare Theatre
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is the RSC's Stratford-upon-Avon base
The Royal Shakespeare Company has dropped controversial plans to demolish its Grade II listed theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The company had been considering knocking down the 72-year-old Royal Shakespeare Theatre as part of a 150m refurbishment programme.

Speaking at the RSC's autumn season launch, chairman Sir Christopher Bland said the plan had now been scrapped.

But other redevelopment proposals were still being considered, the RSC said.

Sir Christopher said demolishing the RST, which was designed by Elisabeth Scott after the original Victorian theatre burned down in 1926, was now a "categorical no", The Stage newspaper reported.

He said: "Risking the history of the company and the history of the theatre and the recent history of the row over the demolition of a Grade II listed building by a woman architect, whatever the justification, the obstacles are too great and we are not going to do it."

Dame Judi Dench in Shakespeare In Love
Dame Judi Dench was among critics of plans to scrap the theatre

The company first announced its plans to demolish the theatre in 2001 to replace it with a "theatre village".

The plans emerged under controversial former artistic director Adrian Noble, who said the theatre was "unwelcoming" and should be knocked down.

The move attracted a storm of controversy, including criticism from actor Michael Gambon, and Dame Judi Dench, who said she was "deeply worried" about the company's future.

The redevelopment won backing from Arts Council England, which pledged 50m.

But the company started to play down the prospects of demolishing the theatre after Mr Noble resigned in March 2003 to be replaced by Michael Boyd.

The RSC now says the refurbishment will go ahead without demolishing the main theatre.

A spokesman said: "It was only ever one of several options and we are going to pursue other roads. We may build other theatres or we may change the inside of the RST.

"We are looking to create the best playhouse for Shakespeare in this country and beyond."

RSC reconsiders Stratford plans
24 May 04  |  Entertainment
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25 Jul 02  |  Entertainment

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