We were thrilled when the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) drew back the curtains and gave us a backstage pass to their Asset Bank as part of our ‘Through the Keyhole’ series, especially as it holds thousands of fascinating images of past productions.
The RSC is one of the UK’s largest theatre companies and is based in Stratford-upon-Avon; Shakespeare’s home town. Every production begins its life in the RSC’s Stratford workshops and theatres – the company produce around 20 plays every year which are also performed around the UK, internationally, as well as broadcast through live cinema screenings.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the company solely performs Shakespeare’s plays but the reality is very different. The RSC focuses on setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers.
As the company currently perform their new hit musical, The Boy in the Dress, an adaptation of David Walliams’ bestselling children’s book, we take a tour of RSC productions where music has played a key role…
A musical tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company
1. The Beggar’s Opera, 1963.
John Gay’s comic work written in 1728 is generally believed to be the first ever musical. This version by the RSC at the Aldwych in London featured Dorothy Tutin as Polly Peachum.
Photo by Reg Wilson © RSC.
2. A Clockwork Orange, 1990.
This stage adaptation of the novel featured music composed by Bono and The Edge from U2, with the lead character, Alex, played by actor Phil Daniels.
Photo by Reg Wilson © RSC
3. Merry Wives: The Musical, 2006.
A new musical take on Shakespeare’s play, this production featured Judi Dench as a cartwheeling Mistress Quickly in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Photo by Stewart Hemley © RSC.
4. The Boy in the Dress, 2019.
Based on David Walliams’ novel, adapted by Mark Ravenhill, the RSC’s current hit Christmas show has new songs by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers and is directed by Artistic Director, Gregory Doran.
Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC.
The RSC use Asset Bank to safely store and manage the hundreds of images captured for each production, for their archive of images dating back to 1879. From documenting designs to performance images, each image is tagged and kept online so it can be easily accessed by the whole company.