Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 2

Letter dated 16 November 2001, to Mr Chris Foy, Royal Shakespeare Company from Mr Donald James

  It is clear from what you say and from your PR that the directors' proposals were initiated regardless of any shortcomings of the Theatre about which nobody has said a kind word and ready to discredit the work and, reputation of Elizabeth Scott. Your professional experts advised against improvements to meet the needs of the directors and in particular their need for a different stage form. This will be the main issue in a planning inquiry at which it is likely that the advisers will produce their reports. I would like to see them if this can be approved. I look forward to hearing from you on this point.

  There can be no doubt that the demolition will be opposed and a case presented for dealing with the majority of the shortfall affecting the public and the company as mentioned in my letter to HRH The Prince of Wales.

  Various statements in your letter will be relevant to the inquiry and, I feel, are best left until then.

  Millions of people have visited the Theatre because of the RSC's very high standards of performance. Rarely does one hear complaint about the Theatre. It does need improvement which is quite feasible without resorting to demolition. If the sightlines in churches or cathedrals, similarly the seating and facilities are unsatisfactory, these cannot be grounds for demolition particularly when it is impossible to remedy the problems. In the SMT they are possible, but not entirely.

  The present situation stems from the directors not being prepared to play the hands dealt them. The Theatre has succeeded in the past and can do so in the present building. If they are opposed to this then they know what they should do. The Theatre is more important than the directors.

  The PR on the proposals insinuates that Stratford-upon-Avon D.C. and W.C.C. are not opposed, to them. There have been meetings but the Councils are in no position to make official comment until detailed drawings etc are released and used for the planning application. This also relates to the views of the Stratford Society, business people and our MP, according to your PR.

  The position of the President concerns most local people, including myself and he is reported as having received many letters about the proposals. It may be quite erroneous to raise this aspect but he must be aware of the controversy. Obviously, whatever he does is well advised and carefully considered but whatever view he takes on this matter will be controversial. A serious scheme for improvements prepared by fresh advisers could resolve this issue although it may not be to the approval of every director. It would go a long way to dealing with the main factor in any local inquiry, should one be necessary.

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