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Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

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The Comedy of Errors will run 13 July – 26 September.

With just one week until the opening of The Comedy of Errors in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has released new images of the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre, a specially constructed outdoor performance space located in the Swan Theatre Gardens, flanked by the River Avon and overlooked by the Swan Theatre.

The new Garden Theatre will open this Summer with a reconceived version of The Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare's earliest and arguably funniest plays, running from 13 July - 26 September. The production, directed by Phillip Breen, was due to be part of the RSC's 2020 season, but was postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gregory Doran, Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, said; "The creation of The Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre has been a truly amazing feat of collaboration across the Company, our team have worked miracles to design, commission and build a new, temporary outdoor space in just six months so that we can welcome our audiences back, knowing that many feel more confident returning to an outdoor space. It's looking spectacular and I hope The Comedy of Errors company enjoy working there as much as I hope audiences will enjoy watching the show this Summer".

The Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre will comprise of 500 seats in total and 310 with social distancing in place.

  • The idea for the theatre was first conceived in February. The decision to build a bespoke outdoor space will allow the RSC to re-open its doors in the safest way this Summer.
  • The theatre is sitting on 900 tonnes of rock laid to stabilise the ground beneath.
  • The theatre is made of a galvanised steel frame with weatherproofed, non-slip ply floors and steps.
  • The seating structure uses 30 tonnes of re-purposed steel framework sourced from neighbouring area Rugby.
  • The outdoor theatre was designed by Arena Group in consultation with the RSC. Arena Group specialize in the delivery of outstanding temporary structures and associated services for event and commercial use. Previous clients include the London 2012 Summer Olympics, The Virgin Money London Marathon and Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink.
  • The ground works, which began on May 24, took four weeks to complete.
  • The construction team removed over 700 cubic meters of soil, laid down a 900-tonne base for the new theatre and laid 100m of new paths, all ahead of the main build which began on 21 June and took place over four days.
  • As part of the build, the RSC has improved 100 metre of paths as part of the project including the Riverside Walkway which is currently very uneven due to tree roots lifting and breaking up the surface.
  • To ensure the ground could take the weight of the theatre - builders dug down approx. 1 metre, levelled the path, created footings for the structure, and filled with quarry stone. This work has also improved the town's flood defences increasing the capacity for flood water.
  • Along with planning and licensing applications, the RSC conducted extensive surveys of the ground, trees, bats, flood risk, archaeological and acoustic assessment.
  • The Garden Theatre isn't the first temporary venue to have been built on the banks of the River Avon. In 1769, performer and Director David Garrick built 'The Pavillion Theatre' on what is now the Bancroft Gardens for the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth. Unfortunately, torrential rain meant that it flooded and the building sank into the soft ground.
  • During the investigative stages of the groundworks for the build, Geotechnical Engineers conducted core samples, six metres down into the garden, during which they discovered remnants of brick, burnt concrete and charcoal. Following confirmation from Warwickshire Archaeology, this debris was confirmed to be left over from the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, which famously burnt down in 1926.

Phillip Breen's previous RSC directorial credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Provoked Wife and The Hypocrite. The production is designed by Max Jones with Lighting by Tina MacHugh, Music by Paddy Cunneen, Sound by Dyfan Jones, Movement by Charlotte Broom and Fights by Renny Krupinski.

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre

Photos: First Look at the New Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre
Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre


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