The Royal Shakespeare Company’s new Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Garden Theater began to take shape this week as work began on the seats.
The specially constructed performance space occupies the stretch of gardens immediately behind the Swan Theater, flanked by the River Avon, and will initially host a postponed production of Shakespeare’s play The Comedy of Mistakes, which runs from July 13 and is led by Phillip Green. The theater is named after longtime supporters Lydia and Manfred Gorvy, who first visited the RSC in 1961.
The RSC was recently criticized in the pages of letters from The Herald, with questions posed as to why the company has not been more proactive in opening up its interior spaces, such as its boutique and restaurant, the RST and Swan theaters.
This week, RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran and Executive Director Catherine Mallyon are vigorously defending their operational strategy during the pandemic – see this week’s Herald, page 16.
Meanwhile, as photos of the construction of the new theater were shared on social media, opinions differed on its reception.
Praising the new temporary addition, Kathy Hampden told the Stratford now and then Facebook group: “People always find something to complain about and criticize. I think it’s a great idea and I’m delighted to attend the first performance. I think it’s great. The SRC owns the land and two generous patrons finance the project. There are plenty of other green spaces to enjoy in the area.
Jo Mattinsley said she met many RSC actors while volunteering at the Covid testing center in Waterside and people should be thrilled “because they are so excited” by the new scene.
However, Sue York believed the RSC “should open the main house with social distancing rather than putting an ugly structure on a green space.” While Miles Richardson commented: “Socially distancing the three existing spaces would have been better.”