York is set to enjoy a Summer of Shakespeare. As well as the opening of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre adjacent to Clifford’s Tower, which will be staging four of the Bard’s most popular plays over a 10 week season, some of the country’s leading Shakespeare experts will be in York to experience the pop-up Elizabethan theatre for themselves and deliver pre-show talks.
For those wishing to get more out of their visit to Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, and get to grips with the four plays – Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Richard III – ahead of seeing them performed live, the University of York has arranged special study afternoons as well as entertaining and informative talks from leading Shakespeareans.
Professor Judith Buchanan, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of York, and Carla Suthren, experts in Shakespearean drama, will lead workshops on each of the four plays, reading key scenes with participants and discussing the play’s action, exploring its language and the dramatic possibilities of each scene.
Participants can then hear expert and lively perspectives on the plays from Shakespearean guest speakers, and learn about famous past performances – with contributions from professional actors from Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre company – before seeing the evening performance.
The four study afternoons are Tuesday 10 July – Macbeth, Tuesday 24 July – Richard III, Wednesday 25 July – A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Monday 30 July – Romeo and Juliet, and will be held in the beautiful and historic Grand Ballroom at the Grand Hotel, York. Bookings at £25 per person include workshop, afternoon tea and pre-show talk. Participants can also enjoy a special pre-theatre menu at the Grand Hotel’s The Rise Restaurant before heading to the performance.
The guest speakers include:
- (10 July, Macbeth) Renowned Shakespeare scholar Professor Peter Holland from the University of Notre Dame, USA, who writes and speaks widely internationally on Shakespeare. This is a rare opportunity to hear this leading Shakespearean speak in the UK.
- (24 July, Richard III) Professor Mark Ormrod, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of York, is a highly distinguished Medieval historian and the author of numerous works on English kingship and government in the 14th and 15th centuries. He was active in the debates that followed the discovery of Richard III’s remains at Leicester in 2012 and the campaign to have the last Plantagenet king reinterred in York.
- (24 July, Richard III) Dr Megan Murray-Pepper is a Shakespearean scholar with a background in playhouse practice and performance at the Globe in London.
- (25 July, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) Professor Judith Buchanan is a distinguished scholar of Shakespeare in performance. She speaks regularly to audiences in the UK and internationally. Alongside her academic work, she co-scripted and was Shakespeare advisor to the recently released British feature film Macbeth.
- (30 July, Romeo and Juliet) Professor Helen Smith is Professor of English and Head of the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York. She is a distinguished early modern scholar with expertise in the history of books, printing and publication in the period, and with a particular interest in the work of women in the period.
Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre – Europe’s first ever pop-up Shakespearean theatre – makes its debut in York from 25 June to 2 September, and will combine state-of-the-art scaffolding technology, corrugated iron and timber with the historic 13-sided design of an Elizabethan 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’.
The traditional setting will host entertaining and challenging interpretations of Romeo and Juliet and Richard III directed by the award-winning Lindsay Posner, Macbeth directed by York Theatre Royal’s Olivier Award-winning Artistic Director Damian Cruden, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by York Theatre Royal’s Associate Director Juliet Forster.
Two companies of 17 actors are currently in rehearsal, and include an experienced array of talent from the worlds of theatre, television and film. Outside the theatre a vibrant Shakespearean Village will offer ‘wagon’ entertainment, an Elizabethan-style garden, and the best of Yorkshire’s food and drink curated by Yorkshire-born television chef Brian Turner.