‘Shall see us rising in our throne’

28th May 2013

After a good few months of preparation the Royal Shakespeare Company reveals today that it is to begin live cinema broadcasts of selected productions from Stratford-upon-Avon. The first screening will be of Gregory Doran’s production of Richard II with David Tennant on Wednesday 13 November; at least two further  productions will follow in 2014. You can register for further information here and also find out which cinemas are currently confirmed, although many more will be added over the coming months. And did I mention I’m producing the broadcast? For this I’m working not directly with Illuminations (although my relationship with the company remains as strong as ever) but for the RSC where I am also newly installed as the company’s Media Associate. I am very very excited about all this. Across the jump is an edited version of today’s press release – and you can confidently expect to follow the production’s progress in future posts.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) announced today that it is collaborating with Picturehouse Entertainment on ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’, a new programme to screen its productions live from Shakespeare’s home town, and will work with Ravensbourne College to stream the production straight to UK schools.

The first live broadcast will be the Company’s forthcoming production of Richard II, directed by RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, with David Tennant in the title role, which opens in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) this October. The production will be filmed during the performance in the RST on 13 November 2013 and simultaneously screened into over 100 cinemas around the country and available in North America, Australia, Japan and Northern Europe. The RSC is also opening up its work behind the scenes, through a series of short films available online during the run-up to the screening and live footage on the night, before the show and during the interval.

The production will be filmed using multiple cameras around the stage and auditorium, with John Wyver as producer, having previously collaborated with Gregory Doran on the RSC’s highly acclaimed filmed versions of Macbeth, with Antony Sher and Harriet Walter, for Channel 4 and Hamlet, with David Tennant, and the recent African Julius Caesar for the BBC.

Richard II was announced by Gregory Doran in January and plays in Stratford from 10 October to 16 November, before it transfers into the Barbican Theatre until 25 January next year.  It will be the first of three RSC Shakespeare plays to be filmed live during the next year, and is the start of an on-going programme to make the Company’s work more available to a nationwide and global audience. The next two titles will be announced in September 2013.

The Company is also offering a unique opportunity to schools across the UK to experience Richard II in the classroom on 15 November 2013, building on the success of its first direct-to-the-classroom interactive stream last year.

The production will be streamed direct into up to 1000 schools, reaching an estimated 60,000 students through a collaboration with Ravensbourne College and the Janet Network. It will be accompanied by a live studio link-up hosted by Konnie Huq, who will introduce the webcast. Members of the creative team, including Gregory Doran and David Tennant, will also be on hand to take part in a live online Q&A with participating students.  Alongside the webcast, the RSC will create an extensive package of online resources for use by teachers and students in the classroom, both in the lead up to the broadcast and for use as follow up materials afterwards.

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, said today; “We want to bring the work we make in Stratford-upon-Avon to the widest possible audience. Taking our productions live into cinemas and direct into schools is the next logical step. We will start with Richard II.

‘I have enjoyed a long and creative relationship with John Wyver and his company, Illuminations, working on filmed versions of my past RSC productions of Macbeth, Hamlet and Julius Caesar, and I’m looking forward to these new broadcasts, which are part of our commitment to celebrate our ‘one-room spaces’ in Stratford and capture the thrill of sitting in the audience and experiencing theatre live.

‘Through a brand new partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment, who have a great track record in screening the arts live, we can share the RSC’s contemporary interpretations of our house playwright across the UK and around the world, direct from Shakespeare’s home town.

‘Our on-going relationship with Ravensbourne College and the Janet Network also allows us to give a thousand schools the chance to get involved and experience one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays live in the classroom.”

John Wyver, RSC Media Associate, said: ‘I am delighted to continue the work begun on earlier collaborations of creating ambitious screen versions of RSC stage productions. Richard II promises to be as thrilling and engrossing an experience on cinema screens as I have no doubt it will be in the theatre.’

Marc Allenby, Head of Commercial Development at Picturehouse, said ‘We have consistently been at the forefront of new developments in Alternative Content and are really excited to be part of this project. We are looking forward to working with the RSC to bring their renowned Shakespearian productions to cinemas around the world.’

James Morris, Subject Leader for Web Media at Ravensbourne, said ‘Ravensbourne is extremely excited about working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Janet again. Our previous project together broke new ground and was an extremely beneficial experience for the Ravensbourne students involved. We’re relishing the chance to bring Shakespeare to thousands of UK schoolchildren in a new and engaging way.


  1. Rebecca says:

    / This is great news, John ! I’m going to start working on our local arthouse theatre, that recently announced they’ll be running NTLive, to get them to bring it here.

    I have tickets to both Stratford & London, but I’ll go here as well… and for all those people who can’t go, or couldn’t get tickets, this is wonderful.

  2. keith griffiths says:

    Excellent news! Dream come true!

  3. sharon says:

    Will there be any theaters near Boston, MA in the US that will be showing this presentation? Are there any theaters or theater chains you would like me call to put in my request for it?

    I saw both the RSC’s Globe Theatre productions of Henry IV (Parts I and II) and the Danny Boyle presentation of Frankenstein at the AMC cinema in Burlington, MA (10 minutes from my home). I also saw One Man, Two Guvnors, a bit further away, in Framingham, MA.

    In every sense the experience was thrilling.

  4. Delighted to hear this confirmed. Great to hear that the RSC will be screening Live from Stratford-upon-Avon, and with such a high-profile production too. Congratulations!

  5. Ruth says:

    Wonderful news. And congratulations on your new role!

  6. Lisa says:

    That’s great news and congratulations on your new post!

  7. That’s excellent news John. I’m bound to ask, any ideas if there’ll be ancillary releases? Dvd? Digital Theatre?

  8. Helene says:

    Congratulations on your new association with the RSC! They are fortunate to have such a skilled producer.

  9. Gail says:

    This is fab news, John – congratulations!

    I’m going to see the stage production of ‘Richard II’ but I’ll also watch the cinema version (mainly because I loved the way you filmed ‘Hamlet’) and I look forward to seeing your treatment of ‘Richard II’ and future productions. I love the fact that you’ll also be broadcasting to schools. How I wish such things had been possible in my day (yes, I loved Shakespeare in school; a rarity, I know).

    Will you be blogging throughout the process, as you did with ‘Hamlet’? Will you be using the same ‘kit’? Will you be producing a DVD, some time in the future? Can you tell I’m really excited about this project? 😉

  10. John Wyver says:

    Many thanks for the comments (and also the Tweets) – a few responses…

    Yes, there will definitely be screenings in USA and Canada, and we’ll be releasing a first list in the summer – I’ll note updates to the list of cinemas here and via the @illuminations Twitter feed.

    Plans for DVD releases and other distribution are still being discussed, but certainly the intention is that these broadcasts should not be restricted to cinemas.

    And, yes, I’ll be blogging from time to time, and trying to give a sense of how the production comes together – doing a live broadcast is a very different process from location filming and I will try to tease out some of those differences.

  11. sharon says:

    Is there any chance that this production could get wide pre-production marketing in the USA and elsewhere to alert fans and the general public about the existence of wonderful cinema releases of live RSC theatre?

    I only learned about National Theatre live broadcasts, by accident, because of something I saw in a side column of an online British news organization’s article, regarding One Man, Two Guvnors, while I was reading a news article online about DT (David Tennant). Since then I receive email updates of what is scheduled to be coming soon.

    There is almost no advertising in newspapers or TV about this phenomenon of live theater being broadcasted in cinemas. Which explains why, at these amazing events, I have shared a 300 seat screening with maybe a dozen other viewers (usually less, which to me is appalling).

    At least let the school systems here (elementary to universities) know that this is happening. As it is so marvelously being promoted to schools in Britain at least the existence of this event could be communicated, around the world via education websites, school theater departments, via Facebook and Twitter, etc.

    I know you must have your hands full and I have no doubt that anything you are involved with will be done with expertise, class and great success. But, as a private teacher, all I have is my little voice to share this news with my home-schooled students and I will ask them to tell their friends. But that is all I can do, myself. It would be such a shame if more people here don’t know this is happening.

    With great appreciation for all you are doing and will do to share live British theater with those that can’t jump across the pond. Thank you.

    • John Wyver says:

      This is a really good point and we’re going to do our best to get the word out to schools, colleges and universities in the States and also elsewhere. We are not sure that conventional marketing is very effective in this context but certainly we’ll be going all out using social media and related ways of communicating. We’ll do our best…

      • sharon says:

        Thank you for your reply about getting the word out widely to educational institutions, well in advance.

        I am so looking forward to this and seeing lots of young people and adults getting the thrill of live theater on the silver screen.

        It’s an intimate, amazing experience. So big. So, so powerful.

  12. Rebecca (aka bex) says:

    John, does this mean that the school/university streaming includes US ?! Because you *know* that i will work to get it shown here at my uni if it does.

    • John Wyver says:

      No, Rebecca, the free schools streaming is just for UK schools, but there will be (we hope!) lots of cinemas showing the broadcast across the States (details of these to come) and we’ll be encouraging audiences in education to get to these.

  1. […] From Stratford-upon-Avon is being masterminded by John Wyver, whose Illuminations blog I’ve referred to a number of times. He’s got extensive experience of …which should ensure that these are […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *