Monday, May 07, 2007


April 28th and 29th saw Shakespeare's birthday celebrated in wonderful weather and great style. There was the ancient [well, at least 40 years old, they say] ceremony of unfurling the flags; Michael Boyd, Richard Eyre and I were entrusted with The Theatre banner, ably assisted by a Scoutmaster and Scout; we then processed to Holy Trinity and laid our wreaths on WS' tomb, followed by a long lunch. Good speeches, particularly by Harriet Walter and Richard, but too many of them, so we didn't rise till 4.15.

The RSC Open Day on Sunday had something for everybody; a John Barton seminar with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench, a session with Trevor Nunn, Terry Hands, Adrian Noble and Michael Boyd [and Peter Hall on video], in which some of Michael's predecessors revealed a surprising and late conversion to the wonders of the Memorial Theatre stage, an hilarious quiz compered by Gyles Brandreth, sonnets on the ferry, fight and makeup sessions for children, and Montagus v. Capulets at football.

In the evening the RSC bade its own private and final farewell to the Memorial Theatre stage. This was an extraordinary and moving occasion, skilfully put together by Greg Doran, with 34 jewels performed by - well, some of, and perhaps even most of, the best Shakespearean actors in the world, including Antony Sher, Sinead Cusack, Juliet Stevenson, Judi Dench, David Warner, Michael Pennington, Donald Sinden, Anton Lesser, Barbara Leigh Hunt, John Woodvine, Harriet Walter,Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart and Simon Russell Beale. Followed by fireworks that lit up the Avon, and a staff party into the late reaches of the night. Quite a weekend.


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