Shakespeare Memorial Theatre



  • A theater in Stratford-upon-Avon, built by public subscriptionin 1879 on land donated by the owners of a local brewery. It was thevenue for an annual festival of Shakespeare's plays from 1886 until1926, when the theater was destroyed by fire. A new theater, designedby Elizabeth Scott, was built on the same site and opened in 1932.After World War II the theater became increasingly influential underthe successive managements of Sir Barry Jackson (1945 - 47), whobrought in such talented newcomers as Peter Brook, AnthonyQuayle (1948 - 56), whose production featured such well-knownactors as John Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft, and Glen Byam Shaw (1956 - 61).In 1961 a new director, Peter Hall, took over the theater,renaming it the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and founding the residentRoyal Shakespeare Company.

    Over the years Scott's art deco building has come in for agood deal of criticism for its inflexible spaces, poor sightlines,and other design flaws; its elongated shape and uninspiring exteriorhave also led to its being nicknamed the Jam Factory by professionals. Nevertheless, when in 2001 the RSC announced plays to demolishthe theater and rebuild it from scratch there was a considerable outcry.The current plan involves closing the theater for three years (2007 - 10)while it is subjected to a comprehensive redevelopment. In the meantimeperformances continue in a temporary structure known as the Courtyard Theatre.