The RSC’s flagship project engaging with amateur theatre – Open Stages – is holding its first Skills Exchange event this holiday weekend (Saturday 30th April to Monday 2nd May).  It is being hosted by The Questors Theatre in London, one of the regional partners in the project.  There are almost 300 amateur companies, groups, and societies from all over the UK are participating in the Open Stages project; each one producing their own Shakespeare, or Shakespeare themed, production in their own venue. 

The aim of the Open Stages Skills Exchanges is to share some of the skills and ideas of professional theatre with amateur actors, technicians, stage managers and directors, as well as allowing professional theatre practitioners to find out more about the work of those making theatre in the amateur sector.

This event, which is the first of ten to be held throughout the year and throughout the country and will be hosted by one of the country’s most successful amateur theatres, The Questors Theatre, at their venue in Ealing. The event will see professional practitioners from the RSC, (led by Open Stages producer Ian Wainwright, and the Drama College Rose Bruford) work together with over 270 amateur theatre-makers from all over London. Sessions will include amateur actors working with the same team of voice text and movement specialists as those who work with the RSC’s own professional actors when in rehearsal. Amateur directors will get a glimpse of life inside the rehearsal rooms of the RSC as they work with RSC ensemble actors and assistant director Justin Audibert. And amateur designers, stage managers and technicians will pick the brains of professional practitioners from the RSC and Rose Bruford College as well as sharing approaches to common problems.  What a great opportunity.

There will also be a chance for some amateur performers to be locked in combat led by professional Fight Directors as they wrestle with the skills of stage violence.

The following is the template for this event and will be mirrored by the events hosted throughout the year for Open Stages:

Note: Days run from 9.30am to 6.30pm.

The Questors Theatre, 12 Mattock Lane, Ealing W5 5BQ
Saturday 30th April:  Performance skills including acting, movement, voice and text.

Sunday 1st May:  Non-performer’s skills including directing, design, stage management and lighting.

Monday 2nd May: Performance skills (as Saturday).

The following are dates for future Skills Exchanges dates for RSC Open Stages:

Contact Theatre, Manchester 
Sunday 8th May (for Performers) and Saturday 14th May (Non Performers)

Royal Shakespeare Company ,  Stratford-upon-Avon
Saturday 28th May (Performers), 29th May Performers and 30th May (Non Performers)

Hall for Cornwall
Saturday 11th June (Non Performers) and Sunday 12th June (Performers)

Nuffield Southampton
Saturday 12th June (Non-Performers) and Sunday 26th June (Performers)

Lyric Belfast
Saturday 2nd July (Performers) and Sunday 3rdth July (Non-performers)

New Wolsey Theatre
Saturday June 18th (Performers) and July 17th (Non-performers)

National Theatre Scotland
Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th July performer and non-performer days TBC

SAGE Gateshead
Sunday September 11th (Performers and Non-performers)

Sherman Cardiff

For further information, please visit:

Curtains Up on Royal Shakespeare Company Stamps

Royal Mail is introducing a special range of stamps celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Royal Shakespeare Company.  The collection includes six 1st Class stamps displaying fantastic scenes from some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays such as The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet to name a few.  Along with the picture, each stamp will include a well-known quote from each play.  The stamp launch also features a mini sheet of exclusive artwork displaying the most famous RSC Theatres such as the Swan Theatre and the Courtyard Theatre.

Arabian Nights – Stratford upon Avon

Adapted and directed by Dominic Cooke

Wedding night in the palace of King Shahrayar. By morning the new Queen Shahrazad is to be put to death like a thousand young brides before her. She has the one gift that can save her – the gift of storytelling.

With a mischievous imagination and silver tongue Queen Shahrazad paints a dazzling array of stories and characters; amongst them Ali Baba and Es-Sindibad, summoned forth from strange and magical worlds populated by giant beasts, singing trees, devilish ghouls and crafty thieves. But will her enchanting stories save her from the executioner’s block?

A truly bewitching tale celebrating the power of the imagination and storytelling to heal all wounds, Arabian Nights will be the first family show to play in The Courtyard Theatre, offering a magical theatrical experience.

Dominic Cooke, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre and previous RSC Associate Director returns to the RSC to direct Arabian Nights. His most recent RSC productions are his acclaimed version of Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses in 2008, before which he also directed the Olivier Award-winning The Crucible (2006). He now re-creates his enchanting version of Arabian Nights, first performed at the Young Vic in 1998.

Arabian Nights runs at The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from 5 December 2009 – 30 January 2010.

Book Tickets for Arabian Nights – Stratford upon Avon at The Courtyard Theatre