We have been lucky enough to have @David_Tennant write a guest blog for us and below you will find an insight into the impact that David Tennant has had on Stratford in his previous visits;
David Tennant will star in Richard II in Stratford-upon-Avon from Thursday 10th October to Saturday 15th November 2013. During that time, including previews, he will play 39 performances before the production transfers to The Barbican Centre in London for another 46 performances.
This will be the fourth season that David has played for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The first was in 1996 when he played Touchstone in As You Like It, Jack Lane in The Herbal Bed and Colonel Hamilton in The General From America. During 2000 he played Jack Absolute in The Rivals, Antipholus of Syracuse in Comedy Of Errors and the title role of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet
Of course his most famous season in Stratford was in 2008 when he played the title role of Hamlet, as well as Berowne in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Hamlet, and David especially, received great reviews from both theatre critics and audiences. In fact, The Guardian theatre critic called David ‘The greatest Hamlet of his generation.’
Each of the performances that season were sold out and queues for returns formed for each performance, even midweek. Towards the end of the run people even slept overnight outside the theatre (in November!) in order to get a return ticket and some changed hands on eBay for several hundreds of pounds despite the Royal Shakespeare Company’s best efforts to stop profiteering.
Reports about the Press Night for Hamlet was an item on the front of most of the broadsheet newspapers the following morning and it was even mentioned on Newsnight on BBC Two! David’s fame as the most popular Doctor Who actor was so extensive that a Stratford fish and chip shop put a photo of a Dalek in its window with the sign ‘Exterminate your hunger!’ and even that was mentioned in some national newspapers! The then Prime Minister Gordon Brown even attended the First Night too!
That season the Royal Shakespeare Company announced on the first night that both David and Patrick Stewart (who played Claudius) would only sign Royal Shakespeare Company merchandise but, after the first preview. When it became obvious that it was David Tennant that people had come to see, Patrick did not appear at the stage door again during the run. David signed for about 10 minutes after most performances and a barrier was erected around the area to make it safe for the large crowds that gathered. By the end of the run, lots of fans realised that the only way to get an autograph was to start queuing during the performance so they would go to the stage door on nights when they were not watching a performance!
It was during the interval of a performance of Hamlet in October 2008 that David appeared from the stage door in Stratford to accept the Most Popular Actor Award via a live satellite link to the National Television Awards in London and it was during his acceptance speech that he announced that he would be leaving Doctor Who the following year. He then returned to play the second half of Hamlet with nobody in the audience aware of the bombshell he had dropped!
The RSC’s annual accounts noted an increase in profits during that season and local hotels and traders reported the same which they are hoping will occur again this year.
That seems likely to happen because, as soon as David was officially announced to play Richard II, the Royal Shakespeare Company reported that they had experienced a massive surge in applications for Memberships as fans knew from last time that that was the best way to get tickets.
When tickets went on sale, both for Members and later for the general public, the Royal Shakespeare Company website could not cope with the demand and, despite turning off the rest of their website, fans reported it was taking over an hour to process their orders so that people lost the seats they had as all transactions had to be completed within the hour.
There were fears by some regular theatre-goers during the 2008 season that fans of David might disrupt the performances, but, despite even having some young children in the audiences, this never happened as they all complied with theatre etiquette and were well behaved.
Even now the Stratford Walks walking tour of Stratford mentions the great effect that David Tennant had on the town that season, as does a backstage tour of the theatre even though David played in the Courtyard Theatre.
If you are lucky enough to have secured tickets for Richard II or you would like to join in the chilly queues for the chance of a returned ticket a warm welcome is assured for you at Avonlea.
To celebrate David Tennant’s return to Stratford we are offering 1 night FREE Bed & Breakfast accommodation when you book 5 or more nights in total. This offer is available Thursday 10th October to Saturday 15thNovember 2013. www.avonlea-stratford.co.uk
We would like to thank @David_Tennant for this wonderful insight into the effect David has had over the years on Stratford. If you would like to learn more about David’s work please see the following site https://davidtennantontwitter.com/ and follow @David_Tennant on Twitter