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Global Warming - Stratford-Upon-Avon

RSC Summer 2013

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#11 Honoured Guest

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 08:31 AM

View PostPolly1, on 21 August 2012 - 09:04 PM, said:

Do we know yet who's playing Galileo?

No casting yet announced for the A World Elsewhere company. But Jonathan Slinger can be definitely ruled out because all three plays are showing on the same nights as Hamlet with him.

#12 igb

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 11:34 AM

View Postxanderl, on 21 August 2012 - 04:54 PM, said:

Very odd!

So, more repeats ...

Winters Tale and As You Like It were both done in the 2009/10 season with the "long ensemble".

The Winters Tale is, however, a touring production.  The Goold R&J was only a year after a touring production had played at the Courtyard for a couple of weeks, and the RSC are currently rehearsing a touring/youth Lear having recently done it with Greg Hicks.   The touring productions need to be box-office friendly, and if you insisted that they took their turn in the repeat cycle with similarly popular plays being done in the main houses it would make life very difficult.  

The Hamlet hits the "about every four years" cycle --- don't they pretty much have a Lear, a Macbeth, an Othello or a Hamlet in the programme every year?  Pop quiz: when was the last RSC season in which all four were absent?  Farr and Slinger are probably in pole position to do it given current records, and if Slinger doesn't soon he's not going to.  As You Like It is also typically done about once every four years (Main house: 89, 92, 96, 00, 05, Courtyard: 09) so doing it in the new main house in 13 doesn't seem unreasonable.

There are only the Shakespeare plays there are, and with typically six productions per year you'd exhaust them in a six-and-change year cycle even if you did as many Henry VIIIs as you did Hamlets.  Given that there's a core of probably less than twenty plays that are going to make up the majority of each year's roster (and twenty is being generous), that Hamlet/Tempest/AYL/TN/RichardIII are on a four-year cycle is hardly surprising.

An amusing data-mining exercise would be to order the plays by number of performances in the last fifty years, and then see what percentage of the productions are drawn from the top ten, ten fifteen, etc.  I would guess that ten plays (and further guess that's the four big tragedies, plus R&J, Tempest, R3, H5, AYL and TN) account for well over half the RSC's output, and those big plays average a production every three to four years.  Hmm, where's that dserve database...

Edit to add:

I was wrong about the most popular 10.   This is a first pass at "number of productions of each play up to 2008", assuming that if there's a production in two consecutive years it's really the same production re-staged.  I also worked out the longest gap in productions for each play, which is quite interesting (Shrew out of fashion in the fifties, Merchant in the seventies, Hamlet (!) in the immediate post-war period).   This is a nasty perl script which fetched all the data from the dserve performance database, roughly parsed it and did the calculations with very little checking, so I may re-visit this and get it right!



33 (2.0%) The Merry Wives of Windsor, max interval = 10 (1945-1955)
35 (2.1%) Macbeth, max interval = 13 (1883-1896)
36 (2.2%) A Midsummer Night's Dream, max interval = 11 (1892-1903)
37 (2.2%) Romeo and Juliet, max interval = 7 (1919-1926)
37 (2.2%) The Merchant of Venice, max interval = 7 (1971-1978)
38 (2.3%) The Taming of the Shrew, max interval = 7 (1953-1960)
39 (2.3%) Much Ado About Nothing, max interval = 10 (1881-1891)
40 (2.4%) As You Like It, max interval = 10 (1884-1894)
40 (2.4%) Hamlet, max interval = 8 (1948-1956)
43 (2.6%) Twelfth Night, max interval = 11 (1881-1892)

#13 Honoured Guest

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 11:51 AM

Othello isn't wheeled out quite as often as the others you name. It's lost its relevance in these days of Kleenex. How would Othello recognise Desdemona's paper tissue?

#14 Epicoene

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 12:23 PM

View Postigb, on 22 August 2012 - 11:34 AM, said:

The touring productions need to be box-office friendly.

Why ?

And even if I accepted that, why should it be the play that makes it box office friendly rather than the cast, or the production ? Simon Rusell-Beale could tour Henry VIII and sell-out any location I would guess.

#15 xanderl

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 01:19 PM

Very interesting statistics, thanks IGB! (although it's a bit annoying when I'm having an ill-informed rant and someone comes along with a load of facts ;) )

Would be interesting to see the stats for the full canon if you are able!
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage

#16 igb

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:14 PM

View Postxanderl, on 22 August 2012 - 01:19 PM, said:

Very interesting statistics, thanks IGB! (although it's a bit annoying when I'm having an ill-informed rant and someone comes along with a load of facts ;) )

Would be interesting to see the stats for the full canon if you are able!

Here's the timeline of the RSC's productions.  Warning: this is not checked beyond a couple of quick sanity checks, as it's a "knock some code up while having a late lunch in Starbucks with a laptop because I'm an anti-social geek".   Each dot represents a production that you could see that year, not necessarily a new production.

Posted Image

If you want it in non-rubbish quality, get it from here.

#17 igb

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:16 PM

View PostEpicoene, on 22 August 2012 - 12:23 PM, said:

Why ?

And even if I accepted that, why should it be the play that makes it box office friendly rather than the cast, or the production ? Simon Rusell-Beale could tour Henry VIII and sell-out any location I would guess.

Really?  A week in a random British town with a play no-one knows and not many care about, which is never going to be a GCSE or A Level set text even if hell has frozen over?

#18 igb

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:23 PM

By the way, I was wrong to say there's a "big four" tragedy every year.  At a first pass, it looks like the following years didn't have Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello or Lear:


1881 1882 1884 1885 1887 1889 1892 1893 1894 1895 1901 1919 1926
1934 1935 1941 1947 1951 1957 1960 1969 1973 1995 2003 2005

Much less common to miss them since the war, but it's still about one year in six.

#19 xanderl

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:35 PM

View Postigb, on 22 August 2012 - 02:14 PM, said:

Here's the timeline of the RSC's productions.

Fascinating, thanks!

Some interesting oddities - for instance 3 productions of H VI part 2 on it's own, and no productions of any of the three between 1905 and the late 70s.

For your next task - colour code the dots by artistic director ;)
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage

#20 Epicoene

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:46 PM

View Postigb, on 22 August 2012 - 02:16 PM, said:

Really?  A week in a random British town with a play no-one knows and not many care about, which is never going to be a GCSE or A Level set text even if hell has frozen over?

What an elitist comment. You are saying a play like that couldn't do 5 nights in a "random British town" (their last such tour was to Newcastle, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Richmond and Bath) whereas such comparitive rarities should be reserved for months-long runs in Stratford ? And by implication the residents of these "random towns" wouldn't turn out to see Simon Russell-Beale even if he was in an obscure play ?

You are also implying that the RSC grant should be lavished only on Stratford to subsidise minority-interest plays whereas their touring productions always need to be lowest-common-denomiator commercial enterprises.





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