Albery May Be the New Home of the Royal Shakespeare Company
By James Inverne
01 Jul 2004
Not only has Royal Shakespeare Company boss Michael Boyd declared that he's reviving Peter Brook's technique of previewing shows at schools, the London Evening Standard reports that the choice of a new London home is imminent.
According to the newspaper, the Albery Theatre in St. Martin's Lane is "one of the frontrunners" to be the new RSC London base, after they abandoned the Barbican Centre in 2002. The company is in talks with Albery owners the Ambassadors Theatre Group to move into the Albery, or perhaps one of the group's alternative venues (such as the Comedy, the Piccadilly or the Wyndhams).
A move to the Albery would situate the RSC in the heart of the West End. It's one of the most centrally located theatres, an easy walk from Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. The Barbican, by contrast, is in the financial district and far from most of the popular shops and restaurants. A final decision on the London base is expected within a month.
The RSC has announced that Boyd's new production of Hamlet, starring Toby Stephens, will be previewed with no sets or costumes in the Stratford High School on July 5. Their student audience will be aged between 15 and 17 and, following in the techniques of legendary director Peter Brook, Boyd believes the production will gain from the experience. In a press release, he said, "This is an exercise in narrative clarity. Young people are objective and want to engage fully with the story, and a good way to foster this is to play in a school hall without . . . sophisticated effects." It is, he confirmed, a process he plans to continue.