Visit The Play’s The Thing in Stratford-upon-Avon to dive into the world of theatre. Run by the Royal Shakespeare Company and situated within the Swan Wing of their riverside theatre building, The Play’s The Thing is a family-friendly, hands-on attraction and well worth a visit.
What can you expect when you visit The Play’s The Thing in Stratford-upon-Avon?
The Play’s The Thing
Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6BB
What’s at The Play’s The Thing?
Explore the archives of Stratford-upon-Avon’s world-famous archives at The Play’s The Thing, where programmes from previous performances, some from decades ago, line the walls. The first room you come to, after waiting for a guide outside the Swan Cafe (get tickets from the box office in the main foyer), is the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Library.
A mosaic of programme covers, each highlighting the individual style of that performance, covers three of the four walls. The other contains an original fireplace and a memorial to the man himself: William Shakespeare, the Sweet Swan of Avon.
Upstairs, costumes, props and interactive displays sit alongside a rare First Folio of Shakespeare’s works – lit by the stained-glass windows above featuring some of the Bard’s best-known characters.
The A-Z drawers are particularly fun for younger visitors, as is the dressing room, where you can try on hats and accessories. Older children (and adults) will also love the interactive costume screen, that puts you in everything from a fancy corseted dress of a lady to a bloodied bloke in breeches. Save the image and send it direct to your inbox.
Don’t miss at The Play’s The Thing
Step onto the “stage” (a booth enclosed by glass walls and a curtain), clear your throat, and unleash your inner thespian as you deliver lines with the on-screen performer.
Location of The Play’s The Thing
The Play’s The Thing is located in the Swan Wing of the RSC building on the banks of the River Avon. To enter the exhibit at your allocated time, a guide will meet you just outside the Swan Cafe, near the entrance to the Swan Theatre.
The Play’s The Thing opening times
The Play’s The Thing is open every day, with last admission at 6pm Monday-Saturday and 4pm on Sundays.
The Play’s The Thing price
To visit The Play’s The Thing costs £8.25 for adults and £4.25 for children; under 5s go free. Ask for your ticket to be an annual pass if you think you can return within 12 months; it costs nothing extra. Book online or at the box office at the RSC.
On Sundays and during Warwickshire school holidays (Mon-Sun), up to four under-18s can visit The Play’s The Thing for free with every paying adult.
Value for money? Go more than once with an annual pass and make use of the kids-go-free days if you can. The exhibit rotates its displays every so often, so you can come back and see something fresh.
The Stratfordblog verdict
I love the RSC and its devotion to Shakespeare. And The Play’s The Thing does a cracking job of introducing some of the youngest members of the family to the works of the Bard.
If you think the RSC is a bit aloof or that the theatre has no appeal, then go along to an attraction such as The Play’s The Thing, take a tour or visit the RSC Tower and talk to the people who work there. They are incredibly generous with their stories and their time and if you didn’t feel connected to what the RSC is about before your visit, you certainly will afterwards. On a recent visit, we asked the guide what his personal favourite piece was in the exhibit. He pointed fondly at the First Folio. “Without that,” he said, “none of this would be here”. Quite.
What do you think? Have you been to The Play’s The Thing? Post your comment below or join the chat on social media.
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Information correct at date of publication