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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 10:42 GMT
Stage success 'turns RSC around'
Toby Stephens in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Hamlet
Hamlet was part of a RSC season of Shakespeare's tragedies
The Royal Shakespeare Company has said it has turned its finances around after reducing its debt from 2.8m to 400,000 in the past financial year.

In recent years, the company has seen upheaval with uncertainty over its theatres, job cuts and new management.

Bosses say box office hits and cost-cutting have improved their outlook.

Artistic director Michael Boyd said: "If we're going to innovate and experiment on stage, we need to balance the books first."

Royal visit

"Our new priorities of training, new work and internationalism must be underpinned by good finances," he said.

Prince Charles, the RSC's president, will chair the company's annual general meeting in Stratford on Friday.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is the RSC's Stratford-upon-Avon base
While there, he will also see a puppet version of Shakespeare's poem Venus and Adonis and tour the theatre workshops.

An RSC spokesman said the debt was static at about 1.3m for much of the 1990s, but was allowed to rise in the last three years.

The company took 9.2m in ticket sales from April 2003 to March 2004, with box office takings in the main theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon the best for 10 years, the spokesman said.

Its biggest hits were a season of Shakespeare's tragedies and four little-known Spanish plays from Shakespeare's era that, in some cases, had not been performed since that time.

'Clear ambitions'

The Shakespeare tragedies are about to form the centre of the RSC's six-month season at London's Albery Theatre, its base in the capital since leaving the Barbican.

It also has plans for a 100m redevelopment of its Stratford home after scrapping a controversial scheme to demolish the 72-year-old Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

RSC chairman Sir Christopher Bland said the company had "a new clarity about our ambitions, renewed confidence in our artistic direction and improved finances".

"Success on stage and efficiency backstage have, between them, brought our finances back into balance," he said.

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