The Royal Shakespeare Company said Thursday it may demolish its Stratford-upon-Avon theater and build a new auditorium.
The Art Deco building, built in 1933 to look like an ocean liner, is one of the world's most famous theaters. Its boards have been trodden by Britain's greatest classical actors from Laurence Olivier to John Gielgud.But audiences, directors and actors have become increasingly disillusioned with the 1,500-seat auditorium, complaining of its unwieldy stage, poor sight lines and abysmal backstage facilities.
"It has never really been a facility appropriate for a world-class company," RSC spokesman Ian Row-ley told Reuters.
A third of the seats are very poorly positioned, and young Shake-speare fans were being "treated like second-class citizens," he added.
RSC director Adrian Noble has been in talks with Dutch architect Erick Van Egeraat about constructing a new theater, and the company is seeking British national lottery funds to complete its redevelopment studies.
"It may be necessary to start with a blank sheet of paper rather than a space that no one has liked for almost 70 years," Rowley said without going into details on how the new theater might be financed by the state-subsidized compamy.
Shakespeare's birthplace has been a magnet for thousands of tourists a year. But the main theater has often played to poorly attended houses. The smaller mock Elizabethan Swan Theatre next door has been much more popular with theater fans.
Rowley acknowledged that the main theater was one of the most recognized cultural landmarks in the world. "The irony is that it is one of the least popular."