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Craft of learning Shakespeare must not be lost – RSC artistic director

The company, currently staging the musical The Boy In The Dress, has announced its winter season.

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The outside of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon (Sam Allard/RSC/PA)

The outside of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon (Sam Allard/RSC/PA)

The outside of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon (Sam Allard/RSC/PA)

The craft of learning Shakespeare must not be “lost”, the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company has said, with tomorrow’s stars often trained more for the screen than the Bard.

The RSC has announced its winter season, including The Wars Of The Roses and a new musical.

But Gregory Doran said graduates completing drama school “often have less experience of the classic texts”.

He said the decline of rep theatre – the traditional training ground for young actors – is also to blame.

Gregory Doran in rehearsals for Measure For Measure (Helen Maybanks/RSC/PA)

“We’re a kind of training ground, especially with the decline of regional theatres not having the reps that they used to have” in which actors could work on “play after play” and learn their craft, Doran said.

“These days it’s harder to do that. People coming out of drama school often have less experience of the classic texts.”

Doran said there are “fantastic students coming out of drama schools that have had that access (to Shakespeare) but it’s not as widespread as it used to be”.

The TV and film markets “that the drama schools are catering for” are one of the many “different reasons” behind the lack of familiarity with Shakespeare.

David Walliams and Robbie Williams attending the opening night of The Boy In The Dress
David Walliams and Robbie Williams attending the opening night of The Boy In The Dress (Jacob King/PA)

The emphasis on TV and film is “great and …  very important” at drama school but “we have just to be careful to make sure that the craft doesn’t diminish or get lost”, Doran added.

“We keep on making sure that post-drama school, however much they’ve done … that while they’re here, we are a training ground for those actors.”

The RSC is currently enjoying success with The Boy In The Dress, the musical adaptation of the book by David Walliams.

The show features new music by Robbie Williams and his long-term writing partner Guy Chambers.

It will also stage The Magician’s Elephant, a new musical based on the bestselling novel by Kate DiCamillo.

It has announced an epic staging of all three parts of Henry VI across two performances “telling the enthralling story of the brutal struggle for the English crown”.

The RSC performs plays by Shakespeare, his contemporaries and by today’s writers in Stratford-upon-Avon, London and on tour.

PA