Gorging on Shakespeare's Histories

Henry IV Part 1

It seems that a Boyd in the land is worth more than The Bush. While "the biggest small theatre in London" struggles with Arts Council cuts in thedebacle over funding, the RSC enters 2008 with its early noughties crisisseemingly a distant memory (and its budget increased in line with inflation). Over the past three years, the company reports that it has seen 152,000 new visitors to Stratford alone and full membership increase by 40%, and the teeth-gnashing over the RST reconstruction has subsided as the Courtyard provides a warm and effective temporary space.

The success of the recent Complete Works festival, selling over 527,000 tickets and filling London's Novello to 94% capacity, suggests that Michael Boyd's tactic of thinking big has paid off. While the rest of theatre land is starving, Stratford's gone Bard obese with the culmination next month of their two-year-in-the-producing Histories cycle, which began with Henry VI in July 2006, and concludes in Feburary 2008 with one company of around 35 actors performing all eight plays over 24 hours, first at the Courtyard in Stratford and then at the Roundhouse in London in May.

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