We wouldn’t normally send three newsletters out in one month but we wanted to share the news as soon as possible.

We are very proud to announce that on 21st September we became WINNERS of The Coventry & Warwickshire Tourism and Culture Awards for Small Hotel or B&B. We won this category in the inaugural year of the awards in 2015, they did not run our category last year so we are over the moon to retain the award for 2017. Thank you for all of your support, we could not do it without feedback from people like yourselves.

We wanted to take this opportunity to remind you all that the RSC is not the only fantastic place for theatre in and around Stratford. In fact, myself and Clare have 10 visits to various theatres locally and none of it is to see any Shakespeare.

In Stratford, many of you will know The Attic Theatre, as you will have seen it when you cross the bridge into town, but you may not have heard of the Stratford Arts House. We see a lot of things there including plays, musicals and comedy.

On our most recent visit, we saw Jay Rayner on what we thought was a tour promoting his new book The 10 (food) Commandments–  what we got was a hugely funny stand-up show.

Those of you who know us know we love to eat out and I have always liked to read Jay’s opinions about where he eats. It is always witty and insightful and he has managed to put this whit into his stage show. He is also a pianist in a jazz quartet and he treated us to a number to round off the night. When you bring food, comedy and jazz together you are sure to be in for a good night and Jay certainly does not disappoint. Above is the link to the rest of his tour. I strongly recommend you try and see him if you can.

Also coming up at the Stratford Arts House is A Midsummer Nights Scream and it sounds fantastic.

A Midsummer Night’s Scream is a celebration of the Decadent, Dark Side of Burlesque and Cabaret ready for Halloween!

Hosted by the Grand Duchess of Cabaret we welcome Kiki DeVille back to the ArtsHouse. This show will feature burlesque, magic, dance, hula hooping, pole dancing and sword swallowing! Not for the narrow minded this show promises you a spooktacular night to remember

Don’t forget that the RSC Summer 2018 booking window opens in the next couple of weeks (depending on your level of membership). We can honestly say that this looks like it is going to be the most popular season since we opened 6 years ago. The link above is to our synopses of the season and if anything takes your fancy we suggest you book as soon as you can.

As the winter season has just started we look forward to welcoming many of you back to Avonlea in the coming months.

Rob & Clare

We have just reopened after our winter break and you can certainly tell the RSC has released the schedule for winter 2016. We have just spent the last hour juggling phone calls and e-mails fitting everyone in.

Highlights from the RSC

  • King Lear directed by Gregory Doran, with Antony Sher in the title role, David Troughton as Gloucester and Paapa Essiedu as Edmund
  • Cymbeline directed by Melly Still, extends its run in repertoire with King Lear
  • The Tempest directed by Gregory Doran, with Simon Russell Beale as Prospero, conjuring Prospero’s magical island in an innovative new staging, in collaboration with Intel and in association with The Imaginarium Studios, as the RSC’s family show for 2016

If you are visiting Stratford for one of the RSC or Swan Theatre productions Avonlea is the perfect place to stay. We are just ½ a mile from both theatres.

If your idea of a good time is keeping fit rather than what the RSC has to offer parkrun has come to Stratford Upon Avon and yet again Avonlea is the perfect location.

We are less than ½ a mile from the start on the recreational ground next to the river and we have lovely comfy rooms where you can get a good night sleep before a morning of exercise.

We will be able to offer you a lovely porridge or full English breakfast at 8am before you take the 5 min walk to the start.

Whatever your reason is for visiting Stratford-Upon-Avon, we look forward to welcoming you to Avonlea soon.

Last month we gave you the opportunity to donate towards a fantastic local charity – Shakespeare Puppies, in return we entered all the kind donors into a raffle to win a night with us at Avonlea.

We are happy to say with all of your generous donations we were able to raise £112 that has gone straight to Shakespeare Puppies to help them continue their fantastic work that enables them to help the national Guide Dogs charity.

Each year rather than sending cards and buying lots of presents we make a Christmas charity donation ourselves. In honour of 450 years of the Bard’s legacy we have decided to top up the donation amount to £450.

Now for the winner of the raffle – Bruce & Christine Alder were 1st out the hat so congratulations you have won a free night stay at Avonlea. We look forward to welcoming you back to Avonlea sometime soon.

Since our last newsletter it has been all go and there will be lots of new things ready for when we reopen. The bathrooms are getting there – we have found lots more space for larger showers.

We are just waiting for delivery of new placemats for the breakfast room by a local artist that depict Stratford’s most iconic sights.


This week we have installed new 32” HD Samsung smart TV’s in all of the bedrooms. On top of the superior picture and sound quality, as these are “smart TV’s”, they also have various catch-up services installed like ITV Hub. Also if you have forgotten your laptop or tablet you can also use them to browse the internet. We will be keeping our website up-to-date with local special offers and our favourite places to eat so you will never miss out on the fantastic things to see and do in Stratford.

We have made it up to 10th on TripAdvisor and we are very proud of such an achievement. As we are currently closed for 6 weeks we are not having any guests staying so are not likely to get any new reviews so might start dropping down the ranking. If you have stayed with us at Avonlea and not reviewed us we would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to review us to help keep us in the top 10.  If you would like to do this please just follow the link on the TripAdviosr logo.

If you are planning a visit we are currently offer 10% off for booking of stays during February and March. 

We look forward to welcoming you to Avonlea soon

Rob & Clare

Next month we will have some pictures of the new bathrooms and some mischief at Avonlea…

10% OFF during February and March

During February & March, we are offering 10% off the total price of any full priced booking. Please see our special offers page for other offers available.

Firstly we would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and give you the opportunity to WIN a night to stay at Avonlea.

Those who have received our Christmas e-mail before will know that each year rather than weighing down the posties bag we send an e-mail instead and make a donation to a charity with the money we would have spent on cards, presents and postage. We feel this is not only better for the environment but also helps out some worthwhile causes. This year we have decided that the chosen charity with be Shakespeare Puppies.

Shakespeare Puppies is a group of volunteers for Guide Dogs. Most of them are “Puppy Walkers” – they have Guide Dog puppies living with them from 7 weeks old, until they go into training at 13 – 15 months.

The Shakespeare’s Puppies Appeal was launched on April 25th 2013 in the RSC gardens, Waterside, by James Roe MBE, Stratford’s own Paralympian Gold Medalist, and Councilor Keith Lloyd, the Mayor of Stratford with the aim of raising the funds to name Guide Dog Puppies after Shakespeare characters.

To date, 10 puppies have been named after Shakespeare by raising the £5000 it costs to train the puppies.

Now to the bit where you can WIN a night at Avonlea. We have set up a JustGiving page and for everyone who is kind enough to make a donation to Guide Dogs via this page, we will enter you into a prize draw to win a night at Avonlea. We would like a minimum donation of £2 and for each multiple of £2 you will get another entry into the draw. So if you donated £10 you would get 5 entries.

We hope you do not find this request for a donation rude. We just feel that it is a fun way to raise some money for a fantastic cause. Here is the link to the JustGiving page if you would like to join in the fun. Last enteries for the draw will be 31st December 2015 and we will announce the winner in the next Avonlea newsletter.

Good luck and once again Merry Christmas and a proserous new year.

Rob & Clare

Welcome to the new Avonlea newsletter. As you might notice we have updated our website and with this we have decided to make sure we do a newsletter monthly to keep you updated with what is happening at Avonlea as well as in and around Stratford.

At the beginning of this year we refurbished bathrooms 1 & 2 and they look fantastic, we have now just started to do the same to rooms 3, 4 & 5. It is amazing the extra space we are finding for the showers they are nearly doubling in size! We will be posting some pictures in the New Year when the work is complete.

We are also upgrading the televisions in all the bedrooms when we are closed over the Christmas period and all of the work will be done for the start of 2016 when we reopen at the beginning of February.

Although we will be closed from the middle of December until the beginning of February we will still be here taking bookings for 2016, so if you have not booked in for your trips next year many dates are getting busy so please get in touch.

During February and March we will be offering 10% off your total bill when booking 3 or more consecutive nights, based on our standard rates and not including any other discounts.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Avonlea soon.

Many thanks

Rob & Clare

With the average price of a bottle of wine in UK supermarkets at £7.71 – did you know that you can get from London to Stratford Upon Avon for less than this at just £6 per person each way?

If you are planning a trip to see what Stratford Upon Avon has to offer, it need not be as expensive as you think. With travel from London from just £12 per couple and a double room with us from just £75 per night, a weekend staying in Shakespeare’s home town is very affordable.

There is a direct Chiltern Railways service that departs from London Marylebone and will get you to Stratford in between 2 and 2 ½ hours. It is only the direct Chiltern service that this great price is available for. If you decide to go via Birmingham it is more like £50 per person each way. Also don’t just turn up at the station without a ticket expecting to travel for £6 as fares on the Chiltern service on the day are travel are £30.

The trick is to book in advance….. but not too far. The special price advance rail fares get released 8-12 weeks before travel. Fortunately the Train Line has a handy email notification system. https://www.thetrainline.com/ticketalert/ Put in the date(s) you would like to travel and they will e-mail when the advance fares become available.  If you are booking a return journey it as also best to book two singles as they do not seem to do the same discount on the combined return tickets.

These advance fares are not just available for London to Stratford Upon Avon but many other journeys in the UK. If you do a couple of dummy searches for they journey you wish to take for about 8 weeks ahead you will get an idea of what should be available for you when tickets are released.

Another thing to bear in mind is that even if you are organising a last minute trip to Stratford, if you book your tickets just the day before travelling, big discounts might still be available.

We also have some fantastic discount vouchers for our guests who stay with us – from 50% off at the Shakespeare Houses to 2 for 1 Warwick Castle tickets. If you let us know your plans when you arrive we will do our best to help you make the most of your time and money when visiting Stratford Upon Avon.

We look forward to welcoming you to Avonlea soon.

Don’t forget our special offers:

Stay 3 nights including a Sunday and receive 50% off the Sunday night.

Stay 4 or more nights and receive £5 off per night.


We are now taking bookings for winter 2015, Below is the RSC season guide. This year we will be closed from Friday 4th December reopening as the end of January. In this time we will be refurbishing 3 more bathrooms so by 2016 we will have been completed rooms 1-5. We look forward to welcoming you to Avonlea soon. www.avonlea-stratford.co.uk

  • RSC marks 600th anniversary of Agincourt and continues Shakespeare’s Histories with Gregory Doran’s production of Henry V, also screened ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’ to cinemas and schools
  • Jonathan Munby’s acclaimed production of Ella Hickson’s Wendy & Peter Pan returns to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
  • Two new plays premiere in the Swan Theatre – Hecuba by Marina Carr, directed by Erica Whyman, and Queen Anne by Helen Edmundson, directed by Natalie Abrahami
  • Congreve’s Love for Love – first RSC staging of this glorious Restoration Comedy, directed by Selina Cadell


Henry V, directed by Gregory Doran – 12 September to 25 October 2015 (and ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’ – 21 October 2015)

Press Night: Tuesday 22 September 7pm 

The Winter 2015 season in the main house opens with Henry V, the fourth in the series of Shakespeare’s History Plays directed by Artistic Director, Gregory Doran.

Alex Hassell, who played Prince Hal in Henry IV Parts I & II, becomes King Henry V, the monarch who led England to victory in the Battle of Agincourt. The production marks the 600th anniversary of the battle, which took place on 25 October 1415. It will be designed by RSC Director of Design, Stephen Brimson Lewis, with lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Paul Englishby and sound by Martin Slavin.

It will also be screened live to cinemas worldwide on 21 October 2015 as part of the RSC’s ‘Live from Stratford-upon-Avon’ series, with Picturehouse Entertainment, and streamed free of charge into schools across the UK, with supporting education materials and a live pre- and post-show interactive discussion with students. International encore dates will be announced later.

As part of the RSC’s events programme to get closer to Shakespeare and the world of the RSC, the Stage Fight Club is launched. This will be a fun informal 10 week class for over 18s from 23 September, run by RSC Associate Practitioner and Stage Combat Instructor, Tom Jordan.

Henry V is supported by The Mark Pigott KBE family

Wendy & Peter Pan – by Ella Hickson, adapted from the novel by JM Barrie, directed by Jonathan Munby – 17 November 2015 to 31 January 2016

Press Night: Wednesday 25 November 7pm 

Ella Hickson’s retelling of JM Barrie’s much loved book, Wendy & Peter Pan, is revived for family audiences at the end of the year. This critically acclaimed and spectacular production played to packed houses in 2013 and will be revived with the original set and costumes. It will be directed, as before, by Jonathan Munby, designed by Colin Richmond and lit by Oliver Fenwick.

There will be a Relaxed Performance on 28 January 2016, specially designed for children and young people with autism, learning disabilities and sensory and communication disorders, and anyone who would benefit from a more relaxed environment.

By popular demand, Davy and Kristin McGuire’s magical ‘Sprite Symphony’ exhibition also returns this winter, bringing a Victorian specimen cabinet to life, with fairies fluttering throughout the building.


Hecuba by Marina Carr, directed by Erica Whyman – 17 September to 17 October 2015

Press Night: Thursday 24 September 7pm 

Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, continues the RSC’s commitment to explore questions of gender and power which the Company ignited with the ‘Roaring Girls’. This searing new commission by Marina Carr explores war, womanhood and regime change.

Troy has fallen. Humiliated by her defeat and imprisoned by the charismatic victor Agamemnon, the great queen Hecuba must wash the blood of her buried sons from her hands and lead her daughters forward into a world they no longer recognise. Agamemnon has slaughtered his own daughter to win this war, but another sacrifice is now demanded. In a world where human instinct has been ravaged by violence, is everything as it seems in the hearts of the winners and those they have defeated?

Marina Carr reimagines Euripides’ Hecuba through many voices in a visceral new play. This is the second she has written for the RSC, following her two-hander The Cordelia Dream, performed as part of the Company’s residency at Wilton’s Music Hall in London in 2008/9. Marina’s best known play is By the Bog of Cats (Abbey, Dublin and Wyndham’s Theatre, London). Her awards include the Irish Playwright Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Award.

Love for Love, by William Congreve, directed by Selina Cadell – 28 October 2015 to22 January 2016

Press Night: Wednesday 4 November 7pm 

This will be the first production of this play by the RSC and only the second Congreve play ever to be performed by the Company. Love for Love is a glorious Restoration comedy, where love for love is stronger than love for money.

Valentine, Sir Sampson’s dissolute eldest son, finds himself at a standstill; the only way out of his financial difficulties is to give in to his father’s pressure to sign over his right of inheritance to his younger brother. Seeing a chance to escape his debtors, Valentine accepts the deal, but, fearing he will now be spurned by his beloved Angelica, takes drastic action to ensure he retains what is rightfully his. Selina Cadell makes her RSC directorial debut with this production, after directing The Rivals at the Arcola Theatre last year. Tom Piper will design the set, Rosalind Ebbutt, the costumes, Vince Herbert, the lighting, and sound will be by Claire Windsor.

Queen Anne by Helen Edmundson, directed by Natalie Abrahami – 19 November 2015 to 23 January 2016

Press Night: Thursday 26 November 7pm 

After her acclaimed new play, The Heresy of Love, premiered in the Swan Theatre in 2012, Helen Edmundson was commissioned by the RSC to write this gripping play about the relationship between Queen Anne and the Duchess of Marlborough.

1702. William III is on the throne and England is on the verge of war. Princess Anne is soon to become Queen and her advisors vie for influence over the future monarch. Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, a close friend with whom Anne has an intensely personal relationship, begins to exert increasing pressure as she pursues her own designs on power. Contending with deceit and blackmail, Anne must decide where her allegiances lie, and whether to sacrifice her closest relationships for the sake of the country.

Natalie Abrahami is an Associate Director at the Young Vic and Associate Artist at Hull Truck Theatre and was joint Artistic Director at the Gate in London from 2007 to 2012. She makes her RSC directing debut with this production.

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, said: 

“Our winter season pits love against war. We mark the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt with Henry V, continuing our journey through Shakespeare’s History Plays and exploring Prince Hal’s new-found power and responsibility as King of England, following the death of his father, King Henry IV.

“Taking a look at conflict through other eyes, we have commissioned Marina Carr to write a play about the defeated queen, Hecuba, wife of King Priam of Troy and mother of Hector, Paris and Cassandra. Erica Whyman will direct this re-imagining of Euripides’ great tragedy, which considers what price we are prepared to pay for victory.

“We will follow this in the Swan Theatre with two fascinating plays, celebrating the 18th Century. First is the extraordinary story of another queen, Queen Anne, and her very close relationship with the Duchess of Marlborough. Helen Edmundson weaves a tale of secrets and intrigue in her new play, directed by Natalie Abrahami.

“Queen Anne will play in repertoire with William Congreve’s Love for Love, directed by Selina Cadell. We have never performed this before – and indeed have only ever staged one Congreve play. I am delighted we continue to use the Swan stage to bring lesser-known classics to a contemporary audience.

“I am also very pleased that we are finally getting underway with the reinstatement of The Other Place. We are delighted to have been awarded an Arts Lottery grant of £3m. Thanks to this generous grant and the support of a number of key donors, we aim to reopen The Other Place as part of our 2016 programme, marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. We have also announced a new collaboration with the University of Birmingham and their Shakespeare Institute. We have had a long and happy association with the Institute and this new arrangement will bring their students closer to our creative teams and help make our R&D programme sing.

“We want to make Stratford the most exciting destination in the UK for audiences of all kinds in 2016 and this marks a key moment on that journey, along with the restoration and new exhibition planned for the Swan Wing.

Thank you the the RSC for the above information


RSC announces Winter 2015 season

Last week public booking opened for the summer 2015 season for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

It looks set to be a fantastic and very busy year for both the RSC and us here at Avonlea. Lots of bookings have come in already and some dates are filling up fast.

In the main house the season starts with Arthur Miller’s 1949 Pulitzer prize-winning play about failed dreams and thwarted ambition, Death of a Salesman.

The big Shakespeare plays next year are The Merchant of Venice directed by Polly Findlay
Othello directed by Iqbal Khan, with Hugh Quarshie in the title role and Lucian Msamati as Iago.
The Venice season crosses both houses and the themes of the main house Shakespeare productions are reflected in the Swan Theatre repertoire.

In the Swan Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta opens the season, directed by Justin Audibert, The play picks up the themes of racism and revenge seen in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, as it follows the Christian Governor of Malta’s attempts to buy off the invading Turkish fleet with money levied from the island’s Jewish population.

Love’s Sacrifice by John Ford, directed by Matthew Dunster also joins the repertoire. This rarely-performed play is a thrilling revenge tragedy published in 1633, which echoes Othello as it explores the destructive power of jealousy

The final production is Volpone Ben Jonson’s great satirical comedy Volpone, set in Venice. Former RSC Artistic Director Trevor Nunn directs, returning to the Swan Theatre for the first time, which he created and opened in 1986.

50% OFF SUNDAY NIGHT when 3 or more nights booked.

Book any 3 nights including a Sunday and you will receive 50% off the standard rate on the Sunday night. Offer subject to availability and T&C’s Call 01789 205940 for availability and booking.

£5 off per night

Book to stay with us for 4 or more nights and receive £5 off the standard room rate per night. (subject to availability)

We look forward to welcoming you to Avonlea soon

Rob & Clare

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RSC Summer 2015 goes on general sale

The winter season for 2014 and has now been released for the RSC. Here is their overview of what lies ahead in 2014.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre
A season commemorating the First World War

  • LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST and LOVE’S LABOUR’S WON (Much Ado About Nothing) a double-bill directed by Christopher Luscombe, broadcast live to cinemas and streamed free to schools
  • THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE a new play by Phil Porter, based on real events in the First World War and directed by Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman

Swan Theatre
Staging the work of Shakespeare’s contemporaries and new plays

  • THE WITCH OF EDMONTON Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, concludes the ‘Roaring Girls’ season, directing Eileen Atkins in Rowley, Ford and Dekker’s domestic tragedy
  • THE SHOEMAKER’S HOLIDAY Dekker’s festive city comedy of class, conflict and cobblers in love is directed by Phillip Breen
  • OPPENHEIMER world premiere of Tom Morton-Smith’s new play about J. Robert Oppenheimer looks into the heart of the Manhattan Project to create the atom bomb, directed by Angus Jackson

Royal Shakespeare Theatre: 23 September 2014 – 14 March 2015

As part of a season marking the centenary of the First World War, Christopher Luscombe returns to the Royal Shakespeare Company to direct a single company of actors in a fresh pairing of two of Shakespeare’s most sparkling comedies, set in the shadow of war.

Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won (usually known as Much Ado About Nothing) will play in repertoire in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST) from October. Both productions will share a setting based on a splendid country house just before and just after the War, designed by Simon Higlett. Lighting design will be by Oliver Fenwick and music by Nigel Hess.

Returning to the RSC are Edward Bennett and Michelle Terry who will play the lovers in both productions: Berowne and Benedick and Rosaline and Beatrice in Love’s Labour’s Lost and Love’s Labour’s Won respectively. Edward was last at the RSC in Gregory Doran’s productions of Love’s Labour’s Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet; he has more recently been in the touring production of One Man, Two Guvnors. Olivier award-winning actress Michelle was part of the RSC Complete Works productions in 2006 of Pericles and The Winter’s Tale. Other theatre credits include All’s Well That Ends Well and The Comedy of Errors (National Theatre). Michelle won the award for Best Actress in a Supporting role at the 2011 Olivier Awards for her portrayal of Sylvia in The Royal Court production of Tribes.

In Love’s Labour’s Lost, the mischievous Rosaline tests Berowne’s high-minded resolve in the summer of 1914. At the end of the play the merriment is curtailed as the lovers agree to submit to a period apart, unaware the world around them is about to be transformed by a war to end all wars. Love’s Labour’s Won begins four years later in the autumn of 1918 with a world-weary Benedick and Claudio returning from the trenches to a post-war house party, where Claudio falls in love with Hero and Benedick reignites his altogether more combative courtship with Beatrice. Youthful passions run riot before peace ultimately breaks out.

Christopher Luscombe makes his RSC directorial debut, having last appeared with the Company as an actor in 1997. His recent directing work includes The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Comedy of Errors for Shakespeare’s Globe, as well as Madness of George III and Spamalot in the West End.

Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, will direct the same company in her first production in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, The Christmas Truce. This new, uplifting play, by Phil Porter, for families and audiences of all ages, has been specially commissioned for this season. The story is inspired by real events exactly 100 years ago, when soldiers along the Western Front left their trenches on Christmas Eve, carrying only their courage and humanity, to meet their enemies in No Man’s Land to talk, exchange gifts and, incredibly, play football. The production will be designed by Associate Designer, Tom Piper, with lighting by Charles Balfour and music by Sam Kenyon.

The Christmas Truce will draw on true stories of soldiers in the Warwickshire Regiment and in particular, the experiences of local cartoonist, Bruce Bairnsfather, who worked at the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre as an electrical engineer, and whose famous comic creation ‘Old Bill’ was hugely popular with the troops.

As the RSC creates the production throughout this year, the Company invites local people and those with connections to the Regiment to help uncover and commemorate stories from the period. An Open House community day will be held at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Saturday 8 March from 10am to 3pm for people to share and discover more about their own First World War family history. A supporting exhibition about Bruce Bairnsfather will open in the PACCAR Room in the autumn.

Swan Theatre: 6 October 2014 – 7 March 2015

The RSC continues to stage the plays of Shakespeare’s contemporaries in the Swan Theatre. Extending the ‘Roaring Girls’ season, Gregory Doran will direct Eileen Atkins in a new production of the rarely-performed Jacobean domestic tragedy by Dekker, Ford and Rowley, The Witch of Edmonton, which will play in repertoire with an extended run of The White Devil, directed by Maria Aberg.

Eileen Atkins returns to the RSC in the title role of Elizabeth Sawyer, who is derided by her neighbours and accused of being a witch until she seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. Eileen last performed with the RSC in 1997 in The Unexpected Man with Michael Gambon. Her many credits include Cranford, for which she won a BAFTA and Emmy as well as Gosford Park. Her latest stage appearance is in Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London. The production will be designed by Nikki Turner, with lighting by Associate Artist, Tim Mitchell, and music by Associate Artist, Paul Englishby.

The RSC’s winter season in the Swan continues with a very different Jacobean classic and the premiere of a new commission.

Thomas Dekker’s festive comedy The Shoemaker’s Holiday, produced for the first time by the RSC, will be directed by Phillip Breen, who directed The Merry Wives of Windsor for the Company in 2012. Written in 1599, in the dying years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, it depicts a nation overshadowed by foreign wars and explores class, conflict and cobblers in love. When his father sends him to war to reform his ways, Rowland Lacy must take drastic action to avoid any chance of injury whilst secretly pursuing his love. He goes from riches to rags; losing himself among the craftsmen of London as he assumes the guise of a Dutch shoemaker at the shop of the larger-than-life Simon Eyre and his wife Margery, who are on their way from rags to riches.

The production will play in repertoire with Oppenheimer, a major new play written by Tom Morton-Smith about ‘the father of the atom bomb’, J. Robert Oppenheimer. As fascism spreads across Europe in 1939, theoretical physicists in California recognise the horrendous potential of atomic fission. The charismatic Oppenheimer spearheads the largest scientific undertaking in human history and races to win the battle of the laboratories to create a devastating weapon which could bring an end not only to the Second World War, but to all wars.

A history play for our times, Tom Morton-Smith’s Oppenheimer looks into the heart of the Manhattan Project, exploring the tension between scientific advances and the justification of their use during wartime and reveals the personal cost of achieving greatness. Tom Morton-Smith is a former writer in residence at Paines Plough, whose play In Doggerland, produced by Box of Tricks, toured the UK last autumn. His play Everyday Maps for Everyday Use was produced at the Finborough Theatre in December 2012. Angus Jackson, Associate Director at Chichester Festival Theatre, will direct his first production for the RSC.

Thank you to the RSC for the information www.rsc.org.uk

If you are looking for a Bed & Breakfast in Stratford upon Avon to stay at when visiting the RSC we would gladly welcome you at Avonlea. We are just a 5 minute walk from the theatres and our comfy beds will ensure you have a good nights sleep after a day sightseeing. We will also serve you a freshly cooked local breakfast to set you up the next day.

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