Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director Gregory Doran has warned that the organisation’s education work could be dented by the loss of income from the closure of the original Les Misérables.
Speaking to The Stage ahead of the opening of the RSC’s new musical, The Boy in the Dress, Doran admitted that the company’s relationship to Les Misérables is “not what it was”, as a new production based on a touring version opens next month.
Under the deal for the original production, which opened in 1985 and which the RSC co-produced, Doran said the company had made about £30 million in royalties. He stressed this had never formed part of the RSC’s core budget.
Although a new deal is in place between the RSC and Cameron Mackintosh for the new version in London, he admitted it “is not the arrangement we had” and said the RSC was having to think about certain areas of its business.
“Over the years we must have made… I think in the region of £30 million from Les Mis, But as I say, we have always been very strict about it not being core budget,” he said.
He added: “Alongside any reduction in contribution from the Arts Council, it’s always a struggle. That is the challenge in today’s climate and the ecology we have. I spend a lot of my time trying to secure the rest of the money so we can do things in the way we think they need to be done.”
He said the decision to replace the original production with the touring version had been “controversial”.
“It [the original] stood the RSC in good stead and a lot of the money we derived from it funded our education work, so we have to make sure that does not suffer on account of that and that we replace it with something else. The Boy in the Dress may be it, but you can’t predict,” he said.
Doran said royalties from both Matilda and Les Misérables had enabled the company to do live broadcasts of productions from its Stratford home, and to stream them into schools.
He said the money from both allowed the company to “be more adventurous and to try different things”, putting money into “areas we feel are important”, such as education and development work.