A Royal Shakespeare Company, the UK theater company, opened an open-air theater with a new version of “The Comedy of Errors” on Tuesday, its first full-scale production for live audiences in over a year.
Based on the playwright’s birthplace William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon, the company, known as RSC, built the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theater outside its Swan Theater on the banks of the River Avon.
The performance of “The Comedy of Errors” was supposed to start in April 2020, but the RSC, like other theaters in the UK and elsewhere, had to close its doors to live audiences due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The production has now been adapted by director Phillip Breen for the new temporary outdoor space.
“It’s a beautiful place here…right by the river, so we get some complaints from some swans occasionally,” said actor Greg Haiste, who plays Dromio of Ephesus.
The RSC theater has a capacity for 500 people — or 310 with social distance. “I felt that there were two really powerful reasons for building this theater, one of which was as a kind of symbol of regeneration…but also as a transition for people to feel very comfortable sitting outside, the open skies,” RSC artistic director Gregory Doran told Reuters.
“And that might give them (spectators) more confidence to, when we open (the musical) ‘The Magician’s Elephant’ in October at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, to go back inside (the enclosed space).”