The University of Birmingham today reveals an exciting five-year collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). This pioneering project will see the reinstatement of the iconic studio theatre, The Other Place. Opening in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, it will be a hub for cutting-edge research and creative practice.
Originally built in 1973, The Other Place closed in 2006 but will be redeveloped in Stratford-upon-Avon, home of both the RSC and the University’s Shakespeare Institute.
The collaboration, which sees the University become a Founding Partner of The Other Place, is rooted in the vision of the theatre as a centre for creative and academic exchange. Benefits for the University will include the opportunity for students to access creative and teaching spaces at The Other Place, with RSC artists and practitioners providing input to undergraduate and postgraduate courses, while the RSC will have the chance to work closely with internationally renowned academics at the Shakespeare Institute.
Embodying the theme of ‘radical mischief’, the collaboration will develop a laboratory for theatre artists working with scholars and students in creative experiments that stimulate connections between the arts, the academy and society at large.
Erica Whyman, Deputy Artistic Director of the RSC, said: ‘I am hugely excited about re-imagining The Other Place as a vibrant, creative space, embodying the challenging and alternative spirit of the original. It will be an exemplary home for theatre artists, and a space where students, our artists, visiting theatre-makers and our audiences can really feel part of the “engine room” of the RSC.
‘Our partnership with the University of Birmingham is a brilliant opportunity for students to get right into the heart of the RSC, using the theatre and its resources as part of their undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Their presence, alongside our artists, will bring a real energy to the building.’
Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, said: ‘This is a hugely exciting collaboration that builds on our existing relationship with the RSC and promises to have enormous benefits for both parties – not least the opportunity to combine our world-leading arts research with the RSC’s cutting-edge artistic practice. Our students will undoubtedly benefit from the numerous teaching and creative opportunities afforded by this innovative project, and I am very much looking forward to seeing how it progresses.’
Work begins this month to reinstate The Other Place, which will include a 200-seat flexible studio theatre, two new rehearsal rooms, and a new home for the RSC’s 30,000 piece Costume Store, giving people access to the extensive collection for the first time via theatre tours. The project is being made possible thanks to the support of private and public funders, including donations from The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Backstage Trust, and a £3 million lottery grant from Arts Council England, as well as the new creative collaboration with the University of Birmingham.
In addition to hosting much of the collaborative work with the University, The Other Place will be a festival venue for RSC productions, with new work festivals taking place twice a year. As a creative hub, it will house rehearsals, research and development, and training for artists throughout the year. Local amateur groups will be able to use the theatre for rehearsals and performances, and the venue will provide additional performance space for the RSC’s work with young people and the local community.
For further information, please contact Stuart Gillespie in the University of Birmingham press office on +44 (0)121 414 9041.
Alternatively, contact Jane Ellis, Communications Manager at the RSC, on +44 (0)1789 412668.
University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham was named The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year 2013/14. It is ranked among the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 4,000 international students from nearly 150 countries. The University collaborates with partners across the world to produce ground-breaking research, deliver innovative teaching, and to create opportunities for students and staff to gain international experience.
The Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham is an internationally renowned research institution established in 1951 in Stratford-upon-Avon to push the boundaries of knowledge about Shakespeare studies and Renaissance drama.
Royal Shakespeare Company
The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world.
Everyone at the RSC - from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians - plays a part in creating the world you see on stage. All our productions begin life at our Stratford workshops and theatres and we bring them to the widest possible audience through our touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity. So wherever you experience the RSC, you experience work made in Shakespeare’s home town.
We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre. We produce an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers. We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. We reach 450,000 children and young people annually through our education work across the UK, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online.
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Professor Michael Dobson, Director of the Shakespeare Institute, said: ‘One reason the University of Birmingham established its Shakespeare Institute in Stratford in 1951 was so that it could both benefit from the presence of a great classical theatre company and contribute to that company’s work. More than 60 years on, we are thrilled that this collaboration, centred on the RSC’s ideas department, The Other Place, is being reborn in a form that will bring renewed creativity to the theatre and to the academy alike.’
Professor Ewan Fernie, Chair of Shakespeare Studies and Fellow at the Shakespeare Institute, said: ‘This collaboration presents a special opportunity to bring cutting-edge academic work and teaching into the RSC’s laboratory for radical experiment, The Other Place. We at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute share the RSC’s passion for making The Other Place a driver for alternative ways of doing Shakespeare and contemporary art, and we're passionate about sharing that with our students as well.
‘Everyone involved with this project is keen for The Other Place to be a unique hub for creative and academic exchange that will make a fresh and lasting contribution to cultural life in the UK and beyond.’