"In search of the spirit of Shakespeare"
Holy Trinity Church
This is my favourite Shakespeare sight, partly because it is a beautiful church in its own right – aggrandised during the 15th century – and it stands in a wonderful location by the Avon.
The stream of visitors is thinner than at the birthplace, and it ebbs and flows, so that you can bide your time and visit the chancel and his gravestone which lies there, during quieter moments.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre
The new theatre, which opens today, replaces the proscenium arch of the old Thirties building (never popular with actors or audiences), with a "thrust" stage and galleried seating much more in keeping with the auditoria Shakespeare would have recognised. The theatrical experience is hugely enhanced – the new theatre is slightly smaller (seating 1,040 instead of 1,400), but the back row is only 50ft from the stage, compared with 88ft in the old one.
"The wooden floors of the new theatre acoustically allow the audience to be aware of their own noise. Not in a negative way, not in a rustle of sweets wrappers way-but it means that when a laugh starts in a corner of the theatre, the sound will run across the entire house. When the audience gasps, they will hear their own gasp. Every gasp and laugh is audible."
The new building appears to grow out of the old, retaining parts of the brickwork, and using the original stage as a floor in the foyer. This summer, new productions of Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night's Dream will run in repertory.
This is Royal Shakespeare Company's 50th birthday season. We are approaching the 400th anniversary (2016) of Shakespeare's death.
"He wears the rose of youth upon him."