Today, on the birthday of William Shakespeare, full details have been announced for Europe’s first ever pop-up Shakespearean Theatre – Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre – which makes its debut in the historic city of York in June. Preparations are well underway for a ground-breaking ‘Summer of Shakespeare’.
- Directors Lindsay Posner, Damian Cruden and Juliet Forster to lead two companies of actors performing Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Richard III.
- Versailles star Alexander Vlahos to play Romeo opposite The Musketeers’ Alexandra Dowling’s Juliet while Requiem’s Dyfan Dwyfor will play Richard III.
- Yorkshire’s Richard Standing to take the role of Macbeth with York’s Leandra Ashton as Lady Macbeth, while a gender-swapping A Midsummer Night’s Dream will see Antony Bunsee play Titania with Amanda Ryan taking the role of Oberon.
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
- A history – Richard III
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.
Making up the York company are Gareth Aled (Lennox/Starveling), Leandra Ashton (Lady Macbeth/Peaseblossom), Antony Bunsee (Siward/Theseus & Titania), Clare Corbett (Witch 3/Puck), Fine Time Fontayne (Duncan/Egeus), Maria Gray (Witch 2/1st Fairy), Paul Hawkyard (Macduff/Bottom), Mark Holgate (Banquo/Demetrius), Emilio Iannucci (Malcolm/Flute), Amy Lennox (Mentieth/Hermia), Rina Mahoney (Lady Macduff/Quince), Olivia Onyehara (Angus/Helena), Jordan Peters (Ross/Lysander), Amanda Ryan (Hecate/Hippolyta & Oberon), Robin Simpson (Witch 1/Snout) and Richard Standing (Macbeth/Snug).
The York company creative team will be led by directors Cruden and Forster with designer Sara Perks, choreographer Philippa Vafadari, composer Chris Madin, fight director Jonathan Holby, and voice coach Yvonne Morley.
Making up the London company are Emma Darlow (Dorset/Balthazar), Alexandra Dowling (Lady Anne/Juliet), Dyfan Dwyfor (Richard III/Sampson), Gabriel Fleary (Brackenbury/Escalus), David Fleeshman (Stanley/Friar Laurence), Charlyne Francis (Second Murderer/Gregory), Robert Gwilym (Hastings/Capulet), Julie Legrand (Margaret/Nurse), Tom Lorcan (Rivers/Benvolio), Joey Phillips (Lovell/Abram), Shanaya Rafaat (Buckingham/Mercutio), Dale Rapley (Lord Mayor/Lord Montague), Emily Raymond (Queen Elizabeth/Lady Capulet), Edward Sayer (Tyrell/Tybalt), Julia Swift (Duchess of York/Lady Montague), Richard Teverson (Clarence/Paris) and Alexander Vlahos (Catesby/Romeo).
The London company creative team will be led by director Posner and associate director Martha Geelan, with choreographer Mike Ashcroft, designer Lee Newby, costume designer Sue Willmington, composer Olly Fox, fight director Kate Waters and voice coach Yvonne Morley.
Casting for Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre is by Ginny Schiller, lighting design by Paul Pyant and sound design by Harry Johnson.
A trial build of the theatre in an off-site location outside York has been completed with work set to begin on the actual structure at the foot of 13th century Clifford’s Tower within York’s ancient city walls at the end of May.
Originator of the project and CEO of international theatre production company, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, James Cundall said:
“The unique environment of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre connects actors and audience together in ways many people will never have encountered 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!
“One of our key aims is to offer comprehensive support for school groups, to encourage young people to see these plays, in this space. As well as special schools performances and prices we have established the Rose Bursary Scheme whereby schools with limited resources can apply for free tickets. I am delighted to say we have had great take-up from schools across the north of England.”
The production team is also sourcing performers for Shakespeare’s Village, the free-to-enter attraction outside the theatre which will feature a regular schedule of ‘wagon entertainment’ with speeches, soulful sonnets and medieval music, as well as juggling jesters.