There are less than 100 days to go until Europe’s first ever pop-up Shakespearean Theatre – Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre – makes its debut in the historic city of York, preparations are well underway for a ground-breaking ‘Summer of Shakespeare’.
Situated beside the iconic York landmark of Clifford’s Tower, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre will combine state-of-the-art scaffolding technology, corrugated iron and timber with the historic 13-sided design of a 16th century Shakespearean theatre. It will house an audience of 950, with 600 seated on three tiered balconies around an open-roofed courtyard and standing room for 350 ‘groundlings’.
Four of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays, across the genres, will be performed in repertory by two companies of actors during the 10-week season, from Monday 25 June until Sunday 2 September 2018: a tragedy – Macbeth; a comedy – A Midsummer Night’s Dream; a tragic love story – Romeo and Juliet; and a history – Richard III.
Traditional in conception, yet fresh and fun in delivery, Romeo and Juliet and Richard III will be directed by the West End’s renowned Lindsay Posner, while York Theatre Royal’s Olivier Award-winning Artistic Director Damian Cruden will direct Macbeth, and Associate Director Juliet Forster will be putting her stamp on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Auditions for the two companies of actors are currently taking place in London and York, with casting and details of the creative team to be announced next month.
Additionally, the trial build of the theatre in an off-site location has commenced.
Outside Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre will be ‘Shakespeare’s Village’, and exciting plans for this free-to-enter attraction are in full swing. Yorkshire-born celebrity chef and food ambassador for the Village, Brian Turner (Ready Steady Cook, Saturday Kitchen, A Taste of Britain), is creating a special street food menu with leading Yorkshire street food vendors, showcasing some of the best fare the county has to offer. In addition there will be locally-made ice cream and a fully licensed bar, all housed in traditional oak-framed and reed-thatched buildings.
Award-winning Yorkshire garden designer Sally Tierney has been engaged to design and create an Elizabethan garden, with ornate box-edged beds of cottage flowers, roses and herbs. Ms Tierney is the winner of a Silver-Gilt medal at the Royal Horticultural Society’s renowned Chelsea Flower Show, as well as ‘Best in Show’ and numerous gold medals at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show.
The production team are also busy sourcing performers for the Village. During Elizabethan times, actors would often travel the country performing plays on farm wagons. Shakespeare’s Village will feature a regular schedule of ‘wagon entertainment’ with sensational speeches, soulful sonnets and medieval music, as well as juggling jesters.
The original Rose Theatre was built in 1587 on the south bank of the River Thames in London. It was a slightly irregular 14-sided structure made of timber, with plaster exterior and a thatched roof, open in the centre to the elements. The success of The Rose Theatre paved the way for other theatres to be built in the area, including The Swan in 1595, The Globe Theatre in 1599 and The Fortune in 1600.
Originator of the project and CEO of international theatre company, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, James Cundall said “More than 400 years ago, the first audiences for Shakespeare’s plays enjoyed an experience that was as intimate as it was exciting, crowded in close to the actors and the action, in a small theatre in the bustling city of London.
“In Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre an experience every bit as exciting, intimate and immersive will be offered to today’s audiences in a dramatic playhouse setting beside the iconic 13th century Clifford’s Tower in the heart of the historic city of York.
“The unique environment of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre connects actors and audience together in ways many people will never have experienced before. While an interactive experience awaits those closest to the stage in the courtyard, no seat in the theatre will be more than 15m from the action, providing plenty of breath-taking, spine-tingling, heart-stopping moments!
“With dramatic sword-fights, bubbling cauldrons, wayward fairies, passionate love scenes, gruesome murders, grand poetry and no shortage of fake blood, audiences will experience the comic heights and tragic depths of Shakespearean theatre in a memorable setting,” said Mr Cundall.
Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre and Shakespeare’s Village will be created and managed by Yorkshire-based Lunchbox Theatrical Productions.
Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre will be in York between Monday 25 June and Sunday 2 September 2018.