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£4.5 Million Performance Partnership for Royal Shakespeare Company and University of Warwick

Bate, Professor Johnathan - outside the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre
Professor Johnathan Bate -outside
the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre

Print quality version of picture

The University of Warwick and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) have formed a £4.5 million performance partnership. The new partnership will use theatre performance skills and experience to enhance student learning and will draw deep on University research and resources to shape the development of the RSC acting companies.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has today, Thursday 27th January, awarded the University of Warwick £4.5 million from HEFCE's Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) initiative to create a new centre which will be at the heart of this partnership.

The particular focus for the Warwick and RSC staff and students in this new CAPITAL (Creativity And Performance in Teaching and Learning) Centre will be performance in the theatrical sense - the development of acting and other stage skills, the engineering of production, theatre history, writing for performance, theatre as a research medium, and the rehearsal process. But these will all be just facets of a much broader commitment by the Centre to develop a much wider understanding of the nature and practice of performance. Some specific examples of the work the CAPITAL Centre will undertake now follow:

A playwright in residence The Centre will establish a Warwick/RSC International Playwright in Residence programme. The playwright will be based at the University of Warwick working alongside the University's highly regarded Warwick Writing Programme - the largest and most comprehensive programme of its type in Europe. The Playwright in Residence will contribute to the RSC's annual New Works Festival and other new writing projects with the Company.

New Warwick/RSC Professor of Creativity and Performance - This will be a unique rotating position to which different staff members will be appointed for periods of 6-12 months to devote themselves to projects exploring the use of performance in teaching and learning.

New Studio Space - the Centre will create a new studio space on the University campus and allow an expansion of on-site commitment in Stratford-upon-Avon to support the Centre?s work.

Training for RSC Actors - The RSC's Artists' Development Programme is a core element of Artistic Director Michael Boyd?s vision for the Company as a place where research and skills development are central to the process of staging plays. As part of the programme, a section of the rehearsal schedule for one of the RSC's acting companies will be set aside each year so that University teaching staff can provide master-classes and training on the background and context of the play.

Online educational materials Warwick research students will also work with the RSC to add to the Company's online educational materials, drawing on a mass of archival, analytical and performance materials from both institutions. The materials will be geared to teachers and students in schools and colleges, as well as to interested theatre goers.

Development of Workshops with the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth - building on the RSC's early work with National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, held during the summer on the University of Warwick campus.

Computer 3D modeling of performance spaces - The Centre will exploit sophisticated computing tools developed by the University of Warwick to produce 3D virtual models of theatres and their performance spaces.

Professor Jonathan Bate, Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick and a governor of the RSC said:

"The process of making theatre is an interesting model for good practice in teaching and learning - a good student experience is akin to a good rehearsal process. The new Centre will enable us to explore and exploit a teaching model that offers some of the most important transferable skills we can give our students: the ability to think oneself into the other person's point of view, to work as part of a team, and to find answers through the process of framing good questions"

Michael Boyd, the RSC's Artistic Director, said:

"This is a great marriage. When a theatre company like the RSC and a university with Warwick's resources collaborate, the partnership is worth much more than the sum of its parts. If our ambition at the RSC is for a place where artists can learn and make theatre at the same time, then this project is a valuable part of our journey to that goal. The rehearsal room is the engine room of the Company and it's just received a welcome power boost with the launch of this Centre."

"We already enjoy good working relationships with the University of Birmingham at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford and with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Now with this project with the University of Warwick we in the West Midlands are accruing the critical mass to be a world centre for Shakespeare and performance studies"

The University's partnership with the RSC which will be taken forward by this new Centre will not simply be confined to the English and Theatre studies departments at the University of Warwick. Many other departments will benefit - Warwick Business School will work with the University's Centre for Cultural Policy Studies to use drama techniques in management education and decision making, and the University of Warwick's Institute of Education has already explored the uses of Shakespeare in primary education.

HEFCE's Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) initiative rewards excellent teaching practice and invests in that practice in order to increase and deepen its impact across a wider teaching and learning community. Those higher education insitutions who make succesful bids under this intiative are rewarded with recurrent and capital funding from 2004-05 to establish a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. The University of Warwick has been awarded funding for two centres - the second is a £3.3 million "Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Education" which aims to revolutionize the way a University's research activities can be used to enhance the undergraduate student experience.

For further information please contact:

Professor Jonathan Bate
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance
Literature, University of Warwick
Tel: 024 76 523341

Roger Mortlock, Director of Communications
Royal Shakespeare Company
01789 412667 (office) 07980 758903 (mobile)

Peter Dunn, Press and Media Relations Manager
University of Warwick mobile 07767 655860
02476 523708