It’s taken three-and-a-half years to build and gestated far, far longer in the planning stage, but even the most vociferous critics of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s £112 million makeover might grudgingly admit now that their fears about modernisation and betraying tradition were misplaced.
Change is always a difficult concept to sell, particularly when you are dealing with 450-year-old traditions.
It is undeniable though that visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon will enjoy a far better experience when they take their places in the RSC’s sparkling new auditorium.
With the distance of the furthest seat from the stage being halved the audience will find itself far closer to the action, as would have been the case in Shakespeare’s day. The refurbished building will be far more than a rather grand theatre, offering seven-day-a-week exhibitions and activities.
The value to the West Midlands, and Birmingham, of the Shakespeare connection can hardly be overstated in terms of economic benefit.
The RSC is, by some distance, the glittering icon that marks out this region across the world, and the spending power generated by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre fully justifies the Arts Council’s decision to donate a £50 million grant toward the modernisation plan.