• The Swan Theatre Stage

  • Workshop with Michael Corbidge in Llanymynech

  • Stage combat at RSC theatre

  • Directors Weekend in Stratford with the RSC

  • RSCOpenStagesLogoSmall

LADS and the Royal Shakespeare Company

We were thrilled that The LADS were accepted into the 2014-16 programme of RSC Open Stages.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stages has been the UK’s biggest amateur theatre project: a programme of skills exchanges and mentoring, designed to transform the relationship between amateur and professional theatre.

Over 150 amateur companies applied from across the UK for Open Stages 2014-16, and we were chosen to be one of the 90 successful companies. Each amateur company benefited from many months of training, director mentoring, feedback and support. We were invited to attend weekend workshops with directors and practitioners from the RSC in their world famous theatres and rehearsal rooms; we have also welcomed RSC practitioners to Llanymynech. The cast of LADS' 'The Taming of the Shrew' even got to perform on stage at the Swan Theatre, Stratford!

2016 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. As well as having members involved in several local events, LADS will be staging their own production of 'Twelfth Night', again supported by RSC practitioners.

We have benefited immensely from the Open Stages project, and so has the RSC. Here's what one of their leading practitioners had to say:

"I’ve met energized, passionate, dedicated, like-minded theatre-makers and I have to say it’s been one of the most profound and moving experiences of my entire 35-year career...[The LADS] are ambassadors and flag-wavers for the Open Stages ethos because they have seen how transformative it can be. They have seen the benefits of really exploring with professionals, upping their game, stretching themselves and not being frightened of the challenges...

They work with such integrity, such common sense, and with a sense of wonder and imagination that anything ‘can be’ but the play-time is so important. They know how to play, laugh, commune, share and love the work.

It’s been both a pleasure and a joy. Thank you."

Michael Corbidge
Senior Voice and Text Associate
The Royal Shakespeare company

Learning to be a director

By Pam Johnson

The Taming of the Shrew Director

I knew that I wanted to direct plays – but  without any training or experience – how to begin?  Then, in 2013, The Royal Shakespeare Company expanded their Open Stages project working with amateur theatre and I was lucky enough to be one of only 86 would-be directors accepted into the scheme. 

There followed over 100 hours of workshops under the guidance of many fantastic RSC practitioners working on movement, exploring the text, voice projection, using the stage and a multitude of the other facets of producing exciting live theatre.

Directing The Taming of The Shrew in 2015 was something of a dream come true and proved to myself that I could put it all together. 

I am full of enthusiasm to bring modern techniques and ideas to local amateur theatre.  Plans are in hand to run workshops to share with others the new ideas of production that I have learned with The RSC and ways for cast and crew to work together and delight audiences while having great fun!

Members of The LADS have taken on board wholeheartedly the work we explored in “The Shrew” and have gained so much from workshops with experts such as Michael Corbidge, international voice coach and practitioner and Senior Voice and Text Associate with the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

So what does the future hold for The LADS following Open Stages – more plays, more Shakespeare, new directors, more confidence, more fun together as a group – an ‘open stage’ for newcomers, old friends and a world of theatre.

Going to Stratford - The Showcase, June 2015

By Alison Utting

Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew


June 2015, in the heart of Stratford-Upon-Avon: The LADS 'Shrew' ensemble gather in the sunshine next to the River Avon, and then excitedly make our way to the Stage Door of the Royal Shakespeare Company...

Later, as we came off the stage and ran into the wings, Ian Wainwright - producer of the RSC Open Stages Project - whispered to me with a grin, “You just just performed on the stage of the Swan Theatre, Stratford!”  We did, we really did! And it was absolutely amazing. Obviously just treading those boards, where so many renowned actors have been before us, was a thrill. But to me it was even more exciting because of all the preparation we had gone through.

We had 10 minutes on that world-famous stage, in which we presented a whistle-stop first half of our production 'The Taming of the Shrew'. But in the months beforehand we had spent many joyful hours soaking up the experience and knowledge of the RSC's top theatre practitioners. As someone who loves theatre and who has always longed to be able to 'do it better', this was an incredible experience. And by the time we were tip-toeing down from Antony Sher's rehearsal studio, past a wall of famous signatures included the lovely David Tenant, and readying ourselves backstage, I felt that we really deserved to be there. As a group, the LADS 'Shrew' ensemble had absolutely thrown themselves into this production. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we were going to make the most of it!

The lights came up and I heard Anna saying her first line to a full auditorium. The next ten minutes went by in a blur. But when Ian said those words as I came off-stage at the end, I whispered back, “They can't take that away from me!”

It was an incredible experience and I really hope that we can pass on the excitement and love of Shakespeare to a new LADS ensemble, and create something just as magical. We may never get to step on-stage at the Swan again, but the memories and the skills will stay with us.

The RSC in Llanymynech

Michael Corbidge

By Anna Lingard

Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew

Having made our links with the RSC, and having been on workshops in Stratford-Upon-Avon we jumped at the chance of bringing a taste of the RSC to Llanymynech. It arrived in the form of Michael Corbidge, world renowned voice and text coach to the stars - and now to little old us!

The first Open Stages workshop in Llanymynech took place on July 7th 2014. Michael started everyone off on a journey of fun and exploration with texts from Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

     Alison literally wears the rediculousness of Petrucio

I was taking on my first ever Shakespearian role and I was playing Kate in The Shrew - no easy task!! I was daunted by the role of Kate and intimidated by the very thought of Shakespeare, but Michael put us all at ease. He made the text accessible and soon the words lept off the page and became so normal that none of us felt like we were reading Shakespeare's English at all. I will never forget what he taught us and the confidence he gave me.

Michael also seemed to enjoy working with our friendly dedicated team, saying "What  treat today was - thank you for making it happen. It was such an inspiring day for me truly. I was in awe of the talent in the room. It's going to be an amazing journey for all."

The Taming of the Shrew was performed by The LADS in March 2015 and the cast went to Stratford upon Avon for a Skills Exchange weekend in September, and then to perform at The Swan Theatre in June 2015. What an experience..... which is why we are taking on Twelfth Night in 2016, and having Michael back for a whole weekend.