Last night the Royal Shakespeare Company began its six-week residency inside its own theater, an ocean away from its home: the company has built a replica of its thrust stage Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon inside the Upper East Side's Park Avenue Armory. This New York residency-away-from-home is a co-production of the Lincoln Center Festival and the Park Avenue Armory, and required an arduous construction process that you can watch in glorious time-lapse after the jump.
The structure, created over four months in England before being shipped to New York and assembled, will host the RSC's repertory runs of As You Like It, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet and The Winter's Tale through August 14, before being dismounted and returned to the old world.
The unique thrust stage differs from conventional proscenium or black box stages in that the audience is both extremely close to the performers, and wrapped around the stage on three sides—the closest thing in New York would be the Classic Stage Company's 13th Street theater.
Not surprisingly, (affordable) tickets to the RSC shows are nearly sold out.
In other news, the RSC has removed a scene featuring dead rabbits as a prop from its production of As You Like It after complaints from queasy New Yorkers. From a press release announcing the change to the production: "The RSC and the RSPCA (UK equivalent of the ASPCA) were satisfied that the rabbits used in the British performances were sourced responsibly and killed humanely. It has not been possible to source rabbits in the same way in New York." Really? Did they call the Meat Hook?