This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Royal Shakespeare Company. And this summer, the illustrious 41-member ensemble brings a repertory of five works to New Yorkers, thanks to Lincoln Center Festival in association with The Ohio State University. For six weeks ending Aug. 14, shows rotate between “As You Like It,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “A Winter’s Tale,” “King Lear” and “Julius Caesar.”
Due to overwhelmingly warm reception, shows are mostly sold out; so if you have the opportunity to snag tickets, we suggest you do. After all, the least you can do is attend Shakespeare’s works -— played in the setting for which they were written, performed by the pros who know the Bard best -— when they’ve journeyed across the Atlantic and you merely have to hop on the subway.
But don’t be hasty and head to the Upper West Side; despite Lincoln Center billing, this event takes place within the transformative Park Avenue Armory. Its massive drill hall now hosts a near-exact replica of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, where this temporary home was built before it shipped over by crate for this specific, ambitious residency project.
One of the key points of interest is the thrust stage, which comes out deeper into the audience than your standard proscenium and takes seating on three sides; not only can you watch everyone enjoy the experience with you, but the farthest seat from the actors is only 49 feet. This amplifies audience intimacy, frees actors from the confines of two dimensions and offers almost 360 degrees of visibility.
In most cases, the orchestra is even on full display three stories above the action, rather than hidden in a pit below the apron. The acoustic result is just another boon that makes this festival a worthy golden anniversary feat.