Royal Shakespeare Company

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is a major British theatre company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. The company employs over 1,000 staff and produces around 20 productions a year. The RSC plays regularly in London, Newcastle upon Tyne and on tour across the UK and internationally.

The company's home is in Stratford-upon-Avon, where it has recently redeveloped its Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres as part of a £112.8-million "Transformation" project. The theatres re-opened in November 2010, having closed in 2007. The new buildings attracted 18,000 visitors within the first week and received a positive media response both upon opening, and following the first full Shakespeare performances. Performances in Stratford-upon-Avon continued throughout the Transformation project at the temporary Courtyard Theatre.

As well as the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, the RSC produces new work from living artists and develops creative links with theatre-makers from around the world, as well as working with teachers to inspire a lifelong love of William Shakespeare in young people and running events for everyone to explore and participate in its work.

The RSC celebrated its fiftieth birthday season from April–December 2011, with two companies of actors presenting the first productions designed specifically for the new Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatre stages. The 2011-season began with performances of Macbeth and a re-imagined lost play The History of Cardenio. The fiftieth birthday season also featured The Merchant of Venice with Sir Patrick Stewart and revivals of some of the RSC's greatest plays, including a new staging of Marat/Sade.

For the London 2012 Festival as part of the Cultural Olympiad, the RSC produced the World Shakespeare Festival, featuring artists from across the world performing in venues around the UK.

In 2013, the company began live screenings of its Shakespeare productions – called Live from Stratford-upon-Avon – which are screened around the world. In 2016, the company collaborated with Intel and The Imaginarium Studios to stage The Tempest, bringing performance capture to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre for the very first time.

Royal Shakespeare Company
Royal Shakespeare Company logo

Company history

Royalshakespearetheatre-080911
Renovated Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2011
Stratford RST
Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2003

The early years

There have been theatrical performances in Stratford-upon-Avon since at least Shakespeare's day, though the first recorded performance of a play written by Shakespeare himself was in 1746 when Parson Joseph Greene, master of Stratford Grammar School, organised a charitable production to fund the restoration of Shakespeare's funerary monument.[1] John Ward's Birmingham-based company, the Warwickshire Company of Comedians, agreed to perform it. A surviving copy of the playbill records that the company performed Othello.[2] The first building erected to commemorate Shakespeare was David Garrick's Jubilee Pavilion in 1769, and there have been at least 17 buildings used to perform Shakespeare's plays since.

The first permanent commemorative building to Shakespeare's works in the town was a theatre built in 1827, in the gardens of New Place, but has long since been demolished. The RSC's history began with the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, which was the brainchild of a local brewer, Charles Edward Flower. He donated a two-acre site by the River Avon and in 1875 launched an international campaign to build a theatre in the town of Shakespeare's birth. The theatre, a Victorian-Gothic building seating just over 700 people, opened on 23 April 1879, with a performance of Much Ado About Nothing, a title which gave ammunition to several critics.

The Memorial, a red brick Gothic cathedral, designed by Dodgshun and Unsworth of Westminster, was unkindly described by Bernard Shaw as "an admirable building, adaptable to every purpose except that of a theatre." From 1919, under the direction of William Bridges-Adams and after a slow start, its resident New Shakespeare Company became one of the most prestigious in Britain. The theatre received a Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1925, which gave it status.

On the afternoon of 6 March 1926, when a new season was about to commence rehearsals, smoke was seen. Fire broke out, and the mass of half-timbering chosen to ornament the interior provided dry tinder. By the following morning the theatre was a blackened shell. The company transferred its Shakespeare festivals to a converted local cinema. Fund-raising began for the rebuilding of the theatre, with generous donations arriving from philanthropists in America.

In January 1928, following an open competition, 29-year-old Elisabeth Scott was unanimously appointed architect for the new theatre which became the first important work erected in the United Kingdom from the designs of a woman architect.[3] George Bernard Shaw commented that her design was the only one that showed any theatre sense. Her modernist plans for an art deco structure came under fire from many directions but the new building was opened triumphantly on William Shakespeare's birthday, 23 April 1932. Later it came under the direction of Sir Barry Jackson in 1945,[4] Anthony Quayle from 1948 to 1956 and Glen Byam Shaw 1957–1959, with an impressive roll-call of actors. Scott's building, with some minor adjustments to the stage, remained in constant use until 2007 when it was closed for a major refit of the interior.

Timeline:

1932 – new Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opens, abutting the remains of the old.

1961 – chartered name of the corporation and the Stratford theatre becomes ‘Royal Shakespeare.’

1974 – The Other Place opened, created from a prefabricated former store/rehearsal room in Stratford.

1986 – the Swan Theatre opened, created from the shell of the 1879 Memorial Theatre.

1991 – Purpose-built new Other Place, designed by Michael Reardon, opens.

September 2004 – The vision for the renewal of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre transformation is announced.

July 2006 – The Courtyard Theatre opens with a staging of Michael Boyd’s Histories.

November 2010 – The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres re-open following their transformation.

March 2016 - The Other Place was reinstated as a 200-seat studio theatre.

The RSC

Foundation and history

In 1959, while still the director-designate of the Memorial Theatre, Peter Hall announced that the formation of a permanent company would be a primary objective. David Addenbrooke wrote of Hall's belief that Shakespeare, more than any other dramatist, needed a 'style', a tradition and unity of direction and acting.[5] On 14 January 1960, Hall's first policy statement as director also proposed the acquisition of a second theatre, in London, to be used as a city outlet for selected Stratford productions. The RSC was formally established on 20 March 1961 with the royal announcement that the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre would henceforth be known as the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the company as the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The critic Michael Billington, summarising these events, wrote: "In 1960 the twenty-nine-year-old Peter Hall formally took charge at Stratford-upon-Avon and set about turning a star-laden, six-month Shakespeare festival into a monumental, year-round operation built around a permanent company, a London base and contemporary work from home and abroad. Looking back, it is difficult to realise just how radical Hall's dream was at the time; or indeed how much opposition there was to the creation of what became officially known in March 1961 as the Royal Shakespeare Company."[4]

John Barton had been appointed associate director in January 1960,[6] and was followed in 1962 by Michel Saint-Denis, Peter Brook and Clifford Williams who joined the company as resident directors. John Bury was appointed head of design in 1964. The repertoire was also widened to take in modern work and classics other than Shakespeare.

In 1962, strong opposition to the establishment of a London base for the RSC came from the Royal National Theatre which – led by Viscount Chandos and Laurence Olivier – wished to be the sole subsidised company operating in London. Following a deal with Prince Littler, managing director of Associated Theatre Properties, the RSC established the Aldwych Theatre as its London base for productions transferred from Stratford to London, its stage redesigned to match the RST's apron stage.

Twenty years later, in the summer of 1982, the company took up London residence in both the Barbican Theatre and The Pit studio space in the Barbican Centre under the auspices of the City of London. The RSC was closely involved in the design of these two venues. In 2002 it left the Barbican after a series of allegedly poor seasons, partly because the then artistic director Adrian Noble wanted to develop the company's touring performances. His decision means the company has no regular London home.

Innovation and growth

The RSC had first tackled its need for a small auditorium in 1971. At the insistence of Sir Trevor Nunn (who had taken over as artistic director in 1968), the company hired The Place off the Euston Road in London and constructed its own theatre space for an audience of 330, seated on raked wooden benches. Two seasons of plays were staged in 1972 and 1973, none suitable for the Aldwych. In December 1973 Buzz Goodbody, the company's first female director,[7] drew up a plan for what would become The Other Place studio theatre in Stratford, designed by Michael Reardon to seat 140 people, which opened to a first and highly successful season in 1974. The name chosen for the new studio space was favoured within the company because it implied an alternative theatre, but also because it is a quotation from Hamlet.

In August 1976, Nunn staged Macbeth with a minimalist set at The Other Place, playing for 2 hours 15 minutes without an interval. The small, nearly round stage focused attention on the psychological dynamics of the characters. Both Ian McKellen in the title role and Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth received exceptionally favourable reviews. The production transferred to London, opening at the Donmar Warehouse in September 1977 before its further transfer to the larger Young Vic venue for a two-month season. It was also recorded for transmission by Thames Television. In 2004, members of the RSC voted Dench's performance the greatest by an actress in the history of the company.

Summing up this triumphant period, The Guardian critic Michael Billington later wrote: "[In 1977] the RSC struck gold. This was, in fact, the perihelion of Trevor Nunn's ten-year reign as the company's sole Artistic Director and Chief Executive (in 1978 he began to share power with Terry Hands. In London, the company opened a new studio space at the Donmar Warehouse with plays by Barker, Taylor, Bond and Brecht. Its Aldwych repertory combined the usual Stratford transfers with Nichol's Privates on Parade, Ibsen's Pillars of the Community and Brecht's The Days of the Commune. At the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Terry Hands and actor Alan Howard had a marathon year working on Henry V, a virtually uncut, Henry VI, part 1, Henry VI, part 2 and Henry VI, part 3 and Coriolanus. And the action at The Other Place included Jonson, Ford, Musset, Gems and Rudkin. No other company in the world could match that output for quantity and quality".[8]

Nunn and Hands were joint artistic directors of the RSC when the company opened The Swan, its third theatre in Stratford. The Swan Theatre, also designed by Michael Reardon, has a deep thrust stage and a galleried, intimate 450-capacity auditorium. The space was to be dedicated to playing the works of Shakespeare's contemporaries, the works of European writers and the occasional work of Shakespeare. The theatre was launched on 8 May 1986 with a production of The Two Noble Kinsmen by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher (not published until 1634 and thought to be Shakespeare's last work for the stage). It was directed by Barry Kyle.

Troubled times

Nunn (who had been appointed to follow Hall's tenure at the National Theatre in 1986) ceded his RSC executive directorship to his co-artistic director Terry Hands, who took the brunt of media hostility during a difficult few years for the company. Hands took the decision to suspend the RSC's residency at The Barbican Theatre and The Pit during the winter season of 1990–91, thus vacating the capital for the first time in 30 years. This was seen as essential if the RSC was to secure an increase in subsidy from the Arts Council.

Shortly after that decision Adrian Noble returned to the RSC to take over from Hands as artistic director and chief executive. The company had serious funding problems. Noble's decision to sever all RSC connections with the Barbican Centre, funded by the Corporation of the City of London, was widely condemned,[9] and towards the end of his tenure things began to go terribly wrong, partly through his pursuit and support of the so-called Project Fleet, a radical scheme aimed at rescuing the RSC from its financial crisis by replacing the Royal Shakespeare Theatre with a crowd-pleasing 'Shakespeare Village' and streamlining the company's performance structure and ensemble principle.[10]

A 21st-century renaissance

None of Noble's plans came to fruition. He left the job, an unhappy man, in March 2003.[11] Michael Boyd then assumed control of the RSC, now burdened with a deficit of £2.8 million. By a combination of artistic excellence and quiet husbandry, including a year-long Complete Works of Shakespeare Festival (begun in April 2006 in collaboration with other theatre companies) plus a financially successful London season at the Novello Theatre in 2006, Boyd slowly rebuilt the company's fortunes and reputation.

In 2007 he launched the long-awaited Stratford theatre redevelopments, including construction of the temporary Courtyard Theatre while work was in progress, designed to house his RSC Histories cycle before its transfer to the Roundhouse in London in 2008.[12] Talking of these achievements with typical modesty he told the Evening Standard in December 2007 ('The Man Who Remade the RSC'): "There was a bit of gardening to do, but we are now beginning to show signs of walking the walk." 'The Histories' ensemble went on to win three Olivier awards in 2009.[13] In addition, that same year the RSC commissioned a completely new edition of Shakespeare's First Folio, titled "William Shakespeare Complete Works" and published by Modern Library.

The RSC is the sole British member theatre of the Union of the Theatres of Europe.

In March 2008, the RSC launched a manifesto 'Stand up for Shakespeare',[14] a campaign to promote a positive experience of Shakespeare for children and young people. The tenets of this manifesto, Do It on Your Feet, See It Live, Start It Earlier form the basis of the work of the Education department.

In 2010, the RSC opened a new suite of education spaces on Waterside.

In summer 2011 the company undertook a residency in Park Avenue Armory, New York, running a series of performances and an accompanying education programme in partnership with the NYC Department of Education.

In 2012, the RSC produced the World Shakespeare Festival, a celebration of 'Shakespeare as the world's playwright' working with UK and international arts organisations, and including the Globe to Globe Festival by Shakespeare's Globe. The same year, planning permission was granted by Stratford District Council to reinstate The Other Place. Funding for the new theatre came from a £3 million grant from the Arts Council England, raised through the National Lottery. Funding was also received from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, The Backstage Trust, and from public donations; this is the final phase of the Transformation project.

Live from Stratford-upon-Avon, a new project to broadcast the company's productions in cinemas around the world and stream them into schools was announced in May 2013. The project began with Shakespeare's Richard II, starring David Tennant, in November 2013, and followed up with Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and The Two Gentlemen of Verona in 2014.

In February 2016, Artistic Director Gregory Doran's productions of Henry IV Part I & Henry IV Part II, and Henry V went on tour in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong as part of the King & Country Tour. The same year, the Royal Shakespeare Company also opened their first permanent exhibition, entitled The Play's The Thing.[15]

Artistic directors

Theatres

The RSC has three permanent theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon:

The Courtyard Theatre was built as a temporary replacement for The Other Place theatre to house the Company's work when the RST and Swan were closed for the Transformation project. It provided a full-scale working prototype for the new RST's auditorium, seating 1,045 people around a thrust stage. It was also used in 2012 for productions in the World Shakespeare Festival including Much Ado About Nothing in an Indian setting. The Courtyard Theatre was replaced by The Other Place, which was reinstated as a 200-seat studio theatre in 2016.[20]

The company's London presence has included tenancies of the Aldwych Theatre, The Place in Duke's Road, Euston, the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden, the Barbican Theatre and The Pit at the Barbican Centre in the City of London. There have also been seasons at The Mermaid Theatre, the Almeida Theatre (1988 and 1989), the Roundhouse in Camden, the Young Vic, the Playhouse Theatre, the Novello Theatre and the Gielgud Theatre.

The Theatre Royal in Newcastle upon Tyne is the third home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, alongside Stratford-upon-Avon and London.[21]

Key productions

References

  1. ^ Allardyce Nicoll, Kenneth Muir, Shakespeare Survey 19, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p.145.
  2. ^ Stanley Wells. Shakespeare for all Time. London, Macmillan, 2002 p. 220 .
  3. ^ Pringle, p.29
  4. ^ a b State of the Nation: British Theatre Since 1945 by Michael Billington, Faber (2007) ISBN 978-0-571-21034-3
  5. ^ Addenbrooke (1974)
  6. ^ Bllington, Michael (7 February 2006). "Interview: John Barton – Stage". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  7. ^ Colin Chambers Inside the Royal Shakespeare Company: Creativity and the Institution, Abingdon: Routledge, 2004, p.67
  8. ^ One Night Stands by Michael Billington, Nick Hern Books (1993) ISBN 1-85459-185-1
  9. ^ Chambers, Colin (2004). "Crisis and Modernisation". Inside the Royal Shakespeare Company: Creativity and the Institution. London: Routledge. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-415-21202-1.
  10. ^ "Brave new world; Shakespeare". The Economist. London. 1 December 2001. p. 53. Adrian Noble, the Royal Shakespeare Company's artistic director, wants to demolish the main, unloved theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and replace it with a £100m theatre village
  11. ^ "Vile. Hateful. A horrible time" Archived 15 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine: Daily Telegraph, 2004
  12. ^ RSC The Histories cycle Archived 9 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Jury, Louise (4 December 2007). "The man who remade the RSC". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  14. ^ "RSC Tells Schools to Stand up for Shakespeare???". Whatsonstage.com Awards. WhatsOnStage.com. 12 December 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  15. ^ "The Play's The Thing - Exhibition - Royal Shakespeare Company". www.rsc.org.uk.
  16. ^ "Gregory Doran named as RSC chief". BBC. 22 March 2012.
  17. ^ "Royal Shakespeare Company theatre opens doors to public". BBC News. 24 November 2010. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  18. ^ Transformation: Shakespeare's New Theatre, by Daniel Ward, published by the RSC
  19. ^ "The Other Place | Royal Shakespeare Company". www.rsc.org.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Shakespeare's The Other Place in Stratford begins revamp". BBC. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  21. ^ Lloyd, A. The Music Hall and Theatre History Website.
  22. ^ a b c "RSC greatest Shakespeare performances". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  23. ^ Fisher, Philip (2007). "King Lear". British Theatre Guide. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  24. ^ Fisher, Philip (2007). "The Seagull". British Theatre Guide. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  25. ^ "The Histories at the Roundhouse". RSC. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  26. ^ Costa, Maddy (19 March 2008). "'We're going to need therapy'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  27. ^ Smith, Alistair (9 June 2008). "Tennant's Hamlet confirms West End transfer". The Stage. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  28. ^ "Matilda, A Musical". Royal Shakespeare Company. Archived from the original on 10 April 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
  29. ^ "Love's Labour's Lost/Love's Labour's Won, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, review: 'blissfully entertaining'".
  30. ^ The Broadway League. "Wolf Hall Part One – IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". ibdb.com.
  31. ^ Billington, Michael (23 January 2015). "Oppenheimer five-star review - father of atomic bomb becomes tragic hero for RSC". the Guardian.
  32. ^ Billington, Michael (18 November 2016). "The Tempest review – Beale's superb Prospero haunts hi-tech spectacle". the Guardian.
  33. ^ "Timon of Athens". Royal Shakespeare Company. Retrieved 25 February 2019.

Sources

  • Addenbrooke, David: The Royal Shakespeare Company: The Peter Hall Years, William Kimber (1974) ISBN 0-7183-0103-X
  • Beauman, Sally: The Royal Shakespeare Company: A History of Ten Decades, Oxford University Press (1982) ISBN 0-19-212209-6
  • Hall, Peter: Making an Exhibition of Myself: The Autobiography of Peter Hall, Sinclair-Stevenson (1993) ISBN 1-85619-165-6
  • Pringle, Marian: The Theatres of Stratford-upon-Avon 1875–1992: An Architectural History, Stratford upon Avon Society (1994) ISBN 0-9514178-1-9
  • Trowbridge, Simon: The Company: A Biographical Dictionary of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Oxford: Editions Albert Creed (2010) ISBN 978-0-9559830-2-3
  • Theatre Record and its annual Indexes
  • RSC programme notes (including those for Richard II at the Courtyard, August 2007)

External links

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Julian Glover

Julian Wyatt Glover (born 27 March 1935) is an English classical actor, with many stage, television and film roles since commencing his career in the 1950s. He is a recipient of the Laurence Olivier Award.

Glover has performed many times for the Royal Shakespeare Company. His film roles have included General Maximilian Veers in The Empire Strikes Back, Aristotle Kristatos in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Brian Harcourt-Smith in The Fourth Protocol. He also voiced the giant spider Aragog in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Glover has also appeared frequently on television, especially in Britain, including guest appearances in cult series such as The Avengers, The Saint, Doctor Who, Blake's 7 and Remington Steele. From 2011 to 2016, he played the recurring supporting role of Grand Maester Pycelle in HBO's Game of Thrones, and in January 2013, appeared as General Beauvilliers in the BBC drama Spies of Warsaw.

Juliet Stevenson

Juliet Anne Virginia Stevenson, (born 30 October 1956) is an English actress of stage and screen. She is known for her role in the film Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991), for which she was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Her other film appearances include Emma (1996), Bend It Like Beckham (2002), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), Being Julia (2004), and Infamous (2006).

Stevenson has starred in numerous Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre productions, including Olivier Award nominated roles in Measure for Measure (1984), Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1986), and Yerma (1987). For her role as Paulina in Death and the Maiden (1991–92), she won the 1992 Olivier Award for Best Actress. Her fifth Olivier nomination was for her work in the 2009 revival of Duet for One. She has also received three nominations for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress: for A Doll's House (1992), The Politician's Wife (1995) and Accused (2010). Other stage roles include The Heretic (2011) and Happy Days (2014).

Olivia Williams

Olivia Haigh Williams (born 26 July 1968) is an English film, stage, and television actress who has appeared in British and American films and television.

After studying drama at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School for two years followed by three years at the Royal Shakespeare Company, her first significant role was as Jane Fairfax in the British television film Emma (1996), based on Jane Austen's novel. She made her film debut in 1997's The Postman, followed by Rushmore (1998) and The Sixth Sense (1999). Williams then appeared in several British films, including Lucky Break (2001), The Heart of Me (2002) and An Education (2009). In 2010, she won acclaim for her performance as Ruth Lang in Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer. Since 2017, she has played Emily Silk(s), on the television series Counterpart.

Patrick Stewart

Sir Patrick Stewart (born 13 July 1940) is an English actor whose work has included roles on stage, television, and film in a career spanning almost six decades. He has been nominated for Olivier, Golden Globe, Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, and Saturn Awards throughout his career.

Beginning his career with a long run with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stewart received the 1979 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in Antony and Cleopatra in the West End. Stewart's first major screen roles were in BBC-broadcast television productions during the mid-late 1970s, including Hedda, and the I, Claudius miniseries.

From the 1980s onward, Stewart began working in American television and film, with prominent leading roles such as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and its successor films, as Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men series of superhero films, the lead of the Starz TV series Blunt Talk, and voice roles such as CIA Deputy Director Avery Bullock in American Dad! and the narrator in Ted. Having remained with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in 2008 Stewart played King Claudius in Hamlet in the West End and won a second Olivier Award.

In 1993, TV Guide named Stewart the Best Dramatic Television Actor of the 1980s. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 16 December 1996. In 2010, Stewart was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to drama.

Sinéad Cusack

Sinéad Moira Cusack (; born 18 February 1948) is an award-winning Irish stage, television and film actress. Her first acting roles were at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, before moving to London in 1975 to join the Royal Shakespeare Company. She has won the Critic's Circle and Evening Standard Awards for Sebastian Barry's Our Lady of Sligo and has received two Tony Award nominations: once for Best Leading Actress in Much Ado About Nothing (1985), and again for Best Featured Actress in Rock 'n' Roll (2008). She has also received five Olivier Award nominations for As You Like (1981), The Maid's Tragedy (also 1981), The Taming of the Shrew (1983), Our Lady of Sligo (1998) and Rock 'n' Roll (2007).

Cusack married British actor Jeremy Irons in 1978, and together they have two sons: Samuel James (b. 1978), and Maximilian Paul (b. 1985). Prior to her marriage she had given birth to another son, the Irish member of parliament Richard Boyd Barrett (b. 1967), whom she put up for adoption. They have since been reunited, and Cusack has supported him in his political campaigns.

Along with her husband, Cusack was named in a list of the biggest private financial donors to the British Labour Party in 1998.

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