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Half-century of mewling and puking in the nursery’s arms

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Most actors working away from home with young children must find it rather tricky to find somewhere to keep their offspring occupied during rehearsals. This is not the case for those lucky performers in the employ of the Royal Shakespeare Company, though.

Positioned just outside Stratford-upon-Avon’s town centre, next to Anne Hathaway’s cottage, is the RSC nursery – which, although sounding like a breeding ground for toddler actors, is in fact a fully functioning day care centre for under-fives whose parents live in the local area, as well as those working at the RSC.

Now in its 50th anniversary year, the nursery is looking for recollections to piece together the history of the centre from the 1960s onwards.

This got Tabard thinking about some of the potential encounters experienced by non-thespian parents dropping off their children in the past. Imagine getting to the gates to find Judi Dench depositing her daughter before she rushed off to rehearse for her part as Lady Macbeth in the 1970s? Or witnessing Trevor Nunn dealing with an early-morning tantrum from his son before getting back to directing the revival of Nicholas Nickleby in the 1980s?

One wonders whether the actors’ darlings get any special treatment from staff at the nursery, and whether they are encouraged to follow in the footsteps of their parents and learn Shakespearean scenes by rote.

Perhaps they stage Twelfth Night in the sandpit, and Macbeth around the playground’s climbing frame? God help their classmates.

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