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Sir Gregory Doran at Festival on the Close


Sir Gregory Doran is coming to Macready Theatre. Photo courtesy of Macready Theatre.


Sir Gregory Doran, former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, will be coming to Festival on the Close on Tuesday 25 June (6pm) to be interviewed on stage at the Macready Theatre.


Sir Gregory, who received his knighthood in the 2024 New Year’s Honours List for his services to the arts, is this year’s Cameron Mackintosh visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford.


During his 10 years as Artistic Director at the RSC, he directed all but one of the 36 plays in Shakespeare’s First Folio; in May this year he directed a student production at the Oxford Playhouse of the remaining play, The Two Gentleman of Verona.


Macready Theatre is named after William Charles Macready, one of the country’s greatest Shakespearean actors. Sir Gregory will talk about his own time as an actor (he joined the RSC in 1987 having trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and acted and directed at the Nottingham Playhouse) and his experiences of directing some of the famous names in theatre, including Patrick Stewart, the late Anthony Sher (Sir Gregory’s husband) , David Tennant, Simon Russell Beale, Harriet Walter, Eileen Atkins and Judi Dench, who is Macready Theatre Festival’s Honorary Patron.


Sir Gregory says that ‘Shakespeare has been a passport through my life’ and during his time at the RSC he was responsible for expanding the Company’s education programme so that Shakespeare’s plays reached 500,000 schoolchildren every year. Rugby students who are taking GCSEs or A levels in English Literature see at least one Shakespeare play at the RSC as part of their courses, so we are thrilled that the company’s former Artistic Director, several of whose productions they will have watched in Stratford, has accepted our invitation to take part in Macready's Festival programme.


Last year, Sir Gregory published My Shakespeare: A Director’s Journey through the First Folio, with each chapter-heading the name of a Shakespeare play. It is a professional and personal account of his long association with the RSC and is full of his insights, discoveries and achievements. Hunt’s Bookshop will be selling copies in the theatre foyer and Sir Gregory has kindly agreed to sign copies after his own appearance on stage.


Festival on the Close, a celebration of culture, creativity and community, brings world-class  performance to the town of Rugby over five days in June. Every year, we invite young people from regional schools and colleges to join our free creative workshop programme – last year over 2000 attended. 


Festival Artistic Director Dr Tim Coker says: “We are particularly excited this year to be programming a really diverse range of events for the whole community, from the cast of STOMP with one hundred local children stomping alongside to Canzona Baroque performing Henry Purcell’s Te Deum. To be able to present such a wide and varied programme all at an affordable cost to the public, is something I am particularly proud of at a time when arts funding is under such strain. Audiences are what keeps the industry alive, and our festival is committed to providing world-class entertainment for as many people as possible to enjoy, right here in the heart of the historic market town of Rugby.”


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