The Royal Shakespeare Company initiated its annual season in Newcastle in 1977 when artistic director, Trevor Nunn, decided the national company had to make more of an effort to serve audiences across the counrty.
It was unique because all the productions made in the RSC’s Stratford home would transfer to Tyneside for a prolonged season, making use of Newcastle Theatre Royal, the then Newcastle Playhouse and Gulbenkian Theatre, before moving to London.
Over the years, audiences have enjoyed Kenneth Branagh as Henry V, Jeremy Irons as Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, Sinead Cusack as Lady Macbeth and David Tennant as Romeo.
We have also welcomed performances from thespian heavyweights such as Judi Dench, Donald Sinden, Michael Williams, Greg Hicks, Sir Ian McKellen, Francis Barber and Patrick Stewart.
The season has been disrupted in the past decade by the extensive rebuild of the RSC’s main Stratford theatres, as well as the refurbishment of Newcastle Theatre Royal.
However, funding cuts - both at the RSC and the Theatre Royal - have played a major role in the pairing down of the residency during the past five years.