James Cundall – Chief Executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, organisers of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre – cut the ribbon recently to officially open Europe’s first pop-up Elizabethan Theatre, ahead of the first performance of Macbeth.
As part of the opening ceremony The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, watched part of the final rehearsals before blessing the theatre and actors, including Yorkshire’s Richard Standing and Leandra Ashton – who play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth – on the stage of the theatre. Impressively Dr John Sentamu recited two Shakespearian speeches from memory to the delight of the Company before touring the site.
Yorkshire celebrity chef Brian Turner was on hand to serve the first gourmet Yorkshire street food from the Elizabethan themed cabins to an expectant crowd whilst award-winning garden designer Sally Tierney unveiled the Elizabethan Romeo & Juliet garden in today’s glorious sunshine. Situated beside the iconic York landmark of Clifford’s Tower, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre combines state-of-the-art scaffolding technology, corrugated iron and timber with the historic 13-sided design of an Elizabethan theatre. It houses an audience of 950, with 600 seated on three tiered balconies around an open-roofed courtyard and standing room for 350 ‘groundlings’.
A Town Crier was also on hand to declare the theatre open, and local band York Waits performed 16th century-inspired music – the first of regular free ‘wagon performances’ in the free-to-enter Shakespeare’s Village in which the theatre is housed.
Four of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays, across the genres, will be performed by two companies of actors during the 10-week season, from Monday 25th June until Sunday 2nd September 2018:
• A tragedy – Macbeth
• A comedy – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• A tragic love story – Romeo and Juliet
• A history – Richard III
The traditional setting will host entertaining and challenging interpretations of these famous works.
Romeo and Juliet and Richard III will be directed by the award-winning 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. Over 3,000 schoolchildren will watch a production at the theatre for free at a series of special schools’ performances, courtesy of the Rose Bursary Scheme.
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.
The title sponsor of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre is Grand Central Rail, an established train operator on the East Coast line linking York to London. Other sponsors are Fenwick’s luxury department store; the Grand Hotel and Spa, York’s only five star hotel; the Helmsley Group, a York-based investment company in commercial and residential property; the York Business Improvement District (BID), a business-led partnership that invests in improvements and enhancements to the centre of York and its businesses; Welcome to Yorkshire, the official tourism agency for the county of Yorkshire; and Yorkshire’s daily national newspaper, the Yorkshire Post.
Supporters of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre include the City of York Council, Cross Country Trains, English Heritage, First Group, Historic England, Make it York, University of York, York International Shakespeare Festival and York Museums Trust.
Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre and Shakespeare’s Village has been created and managed by the Yorkshire-based Lunchbox Theatrical Productions.