‘When You Put Technology In Artists’ Hands, Unexpected, Unimaginable Things Can Happen,’ Says The RSC

By Ellie Smith

6 months ago

The Royal Shakespeare Company is a Great British Brand 2024


Royal Shakespeare Company is an entry into our Great British Brands 2024 book.

Royal Shakespeare Company: Great British Brand 2024

‘It’s really exciting having Daniel Evans and Tamara Harvey as our new co-artistic directors, offering us a way of thinking differently about ourselves as a brand. Last year was a great one: we celebrated the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio and welcomed audiences back to our beautiful Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon with Hamnet and much more. 

‘Everyone everywhere is talking about AI and we need to address the concerns around its use in theatre. But instead of asking if AI is friend or foe, I ask what it offers and how it can extend society’s imagination. When you put technology in artists’ hands, unexpected, unimaginable things can happen. Theatres always work with technology and we’ve been placing new technologies in actors’ hands since 2016 when we staged The Tempest using real-time motion capture and an avatar, enabling Simon Russell Beale and the other actors to express themselves differently.

Chuk Iwuji as Henry VI, performing at the RSC

‘The more human-centred you are around technology, the more possibilities, and we must support the rights of the human – actor, writer or creative. AI can enable human connection, which is absolutely fundamental to theatre and storytelling. Tech allows us to start with people, connecting with them in real time, so they can join in watching a play anywhere in the world, making the experience all the more human. 

‘I’m always interested in what hasn’t been done before – how can we coexist comfortably in virtual and live spaces as the new generation does? That’s the future of entertainment. Theatre’s power is demonstrating a complex message through story and we can combine that with technology for the greater good. The humanity of theatre delights me and people want human connection more than ever. It’s not a matter of technology replicating or replacing theatre and story-telling, but adding value to it and being part of a multidisciplinary ecology.’ 

Sarah Ellis, Director of Digital Development

A neon head of Shakespeare

Five Proudest Moments

  1. Peter Brook’s radical 1970 A Midsummer Night’s Dream was a landmark production featuring a white box and trapeze set – still talked about today.
  2. Staging all The Histories between 2000 and 2001, with one company of 34 actors playing 264 roles, culminating in a rare weekend event staging all eight plays.
  3. Matilda The Musical launched in 2010 and continues to pack out London’s Cambridge Theatre. It’s played to 11 million people in over 90 cities worldwide, winning 101 awards.
  4. Shakespeare Live! From the RSC in 2016, marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and was broadcast worldwide starring David Tennant, Benedict Cumberbatch, HRH The Prince of Wales and many more.
  5. My Neighbour Totoro broke box office records in 2022 and won multiple awards. Seeing it at the Barbican in 2023 demonstrated theatre’s beauty and power.

Cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the RSC

What I’ve Learnt…

  • Shakespeare is a convener whose 400-year-old stories are still so resonant and relevant they give us the foundation to be ever-more courageous in what we do.
  • To appreciate the joy of being in an organisation and gorgeous brand like the RSC.
  • To appreciate the absolute craft of every individual colleague, because no one person makes a piece of theatre.

Matilda in Matilda the Musical

ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY  

Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon Warwickshire CV37 6BB

rsc.org.uk

@theRSC