Memorandum submitted by Mr Howard and
Mrs Pat Watson
THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE
We would like to submit the following points
for the consideration of the members of the Committee for Culture,
Media and Sport. We are concerned not only as townspeople of Stratford-upon-Avon,
but also because, after careers in design consultancy and education,
we studied and wrote about the Art Deco period for 17 years. Now
retired, we are appalled that the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (formerly
the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre) is threatened with demolition.
1. Many people locally, across the country
and worldwide, oppose plans to demolish the theatre. In an Internet
poll run by a local newspaper, 55 per cent of voters opposed demolition.
There has also been considerable opposition in the local and national
2. Now a Grade Two* listed building, the
theatre, built in 1932, was the first major building in this country
to be designed by a woman architect, Elizabeth Scott, who won
the competition to design a new theatre for Stratford-upon-Avon.
It is a brilliant example, now sadly rare, of the Art Deco "Ocean
Liner" style, so designed to appear to be resting on the
waters of the River Avon.
3. Though greater backstage facilities are
needed, this should not automatically imply demolition of the
theatre, which as a building could be put to another use, thus
preserving its Art Deco features, a replacement theatre being
4. Finally, we are concerned by the attitude
of the management of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which dismisses
local objections as "emotional" and has continually
put out contradictory reports about its intentions. For instance,
in March we were told that demolition of the theatre was "unlikely"
and in October that they "intended to demolish", while
at a public meeting in December organised by protestors, a spokesperson
for the RSC claimed that "nothing has been decided".
We feel strongly that this beautiful and much-loved
landmark building, known worldwide, merits preservation. It is
part of our national heritage, of which we all of us are not the
owners, but only the current custodians.
9 January 2002