Casting announced for York Summer of Shakespeare

  • Maggie Bain (Netflix’s Black Mirror, The End of the F***ing World; film Dark Sense; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe) to play Henry V
  • ITV’s Victoria star David Oakes to play Hamlet
  • Sam Callis (Game of Thrones, The Bill) to play Prospero in The Tempest
  • And returning from last year’s SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE are Olivia Onyehara in the role of Viola, Mark Holgate as Orsino, and Leandra Ashton playing Olivia in Twelfth Night

Casting has been announced for the 2019 York company of SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE, the award-winning pop-up Shakespearean Theatre, which makes a triumphant return to the foot of Clifford’s Tower in York this summer with new productions of Hamlet, Henry V, The Tempest and Twelfth Night. The plays have been selected from across the genres, offering something for everyone, and will be performed in repertory by two companies of actors.

Making up the 18-strong Hamlet/Twelfth Night company are Leandra Ashton (Courtier/Soldier/Sailor & Olivia), Antony Bunsee (Player King/Courtier/Soldier & Priest), Claire Corbett (Horatio & Feste/Sailor), Marcello Cruz (Laertes/Soldier & Sebastian), Fine Time Fontayne (Ghost 1/Player 1/Digger 1/Lord & Sir Toby Belch/Sailor/Musician), Hannah Francis-Barker (swing), Mark Holgate (Marcellus/Fortinbras/Player 3 & Orsino), Gordon Kane (Polonius/English Ambassador & Captain), Rina Mahoney (Gertrude & Maria/Sailor), Serena Manteghi (Ophelia & 1st Officer), David Oakes (Hamlet & 2nd Officer/Sailor), Olivia Onyehara (Osric/Courtier/Soldier & Viola), Alex Phelps (Courtier/Reynaldo/Priest/Soldier & Sir Andrew Aguecheek/Sailor/Musician), Richard Standing (Claudius & Curio/Musician), Claire Storey (Ghost 2/Player 2/Digger 2 & Malvolio/Sailor/Musician), Cassie Vallance (Guildenstern/Bernardo & Fabien/Sailor) Wreh-asha Walton (Rosencrantz/Francisco & Valentine) and Declan Wilson (Voltimand/Captain & Antonio/Sailor).

Making up the 19-strong Tempest/Henry V company are Ali Azhar (Male Spirit & Dauphin/French Soldier), Maggie Bain (Antonia & Henry V), Raphael Bushay (Caliban & Montjoy/Chorus), Sam Callis (Prospero & King of France/Erpingham), Niall Costigan (Alonso & York/Governor/Bourbon), Richie Daysh, (Boatswain & Pistol), Leander Deeny (Ariel & Constable/Grey), Jessica Dennis (Female Spirit/Ceres & Chorus/Williams/Nym), Charlyne Francis (Iris & Katherine/Boy), Alexandra Guelff (Miranda & Alice/Scrope/Court/Chorus), Scott Hoatson (Francisco & Westmoreland/Chorus), Alexander Knox (Ferdinand & Bates/Gloucester), Christopher Logan (Trinculo & Orleans/MacMorris/Cambridge), Amy Loughton (Adrian & Fluellen/Chorus), Peter Moreton (Stephano & Canterbury/Bardolf/Burgundy), Johanne Murdock (Juno & Duke of Exeter), Marilyn Nnadebe (Female Spirit & Duke of Berri/Soldier), Paul Sockett (Sebastian & Gower/Chorus) and Flo Wilson (Gonzala & Ely/Hostess/Isabel).

Damian Cruden, formerly artistic director at York Theatre Royal for 22 years, returns to SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE, having directed Macbeth last year in York.  This year he will direct Hamlet and will serve as overall artistic director for the Company. Award-winning writer Joyce Branagh, who has directed Measure for Measure at Lancaster Castle as well as Much Ado About Nothing at Vienna’s English Theatre, and is the sister of acclaimed Shakespearean actor and director Kenneth Branagh, will join the company to direct Twelfth Night; Philip Franks, best known for playing the role of Charley opposite Catherine Zeta Jones in The Darling Buds of May, and more recently Associate Director at Chichester Festival Theatre, will direct The Tempest; and Gemma Fairlie, recently Associate Director at Pitlochry Festival Theatre and award-winning director of outdoor physical theatre company Light the Fuse, will direct Henry V. Sara Perks also returns to SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE, this year as overall season designer as well as scenic and costume designer for Hamlet and costume designer for Twelfth Night. Adrian Linford will be scenic and costume designer for The Tempest and costume designer for Henry V. Max Dorey will be scenic designer for Twelfth Night and Henry V.

On casting Maggie Bain in the role of Henry V, director Gemma Fairlie commented, “We auditioned a huge range of actors of all genders for this role, but no-one quite captured the complexity of the character like Maggie. Henry is such an iconic figure for the English, he is sometimes more myth than man. But we have to understand why thousands followed him into battle, whilst also seeing the weight of that responsibility for the nation on his shoulders. Henry has a wit, a charm and a charisma that is infectious, and Maggie has that in spades. I know that the audience will fall in love with Henry through her, while hopefully questioning how constructed the public persona of a King is by seeing a woman play a man.”    

Originator of the project and CEO of international theatre company, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, James Cundall MBE, said “I am absolutely delighted that once again the creative team has found a cast of such stunningly high calibre for our four new Shakespeare plays and I’m sure that the audiences in York will really enjoy and appreciate their talents.

Damian Cruden, Artistic Director of SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE said, “From our company of 34 actors last season, 14 have returned – we all so enjoyed the experience of performing in such a unique and intimate venue last year; there was a great team spirit and I’m thrilled that so many of the cast have decided to join our revels again this year.

SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE – a 13-sided Elizabethan-style playhouse, complete with an Elizabethan village – will be constructed over a three-week period from the end of May, returning to the foot of 13th century Clifford’s Tower, where it will open on 25 June and run until 1 September 2019.

SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE is also expanding this year, with a new site at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, where two other companies will be performing the repertoire of plays from the first season in York: Romeo & Juliet, Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth.

Both Shakespearean theatres will be constructed using state-of-the-art scaffolding technology, corrugated iron and timber.  Inspired by the famous London Rose Playhouse built in 1587, 12 years prior to The Globe, SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE will house an audience of 900, with 560 seated in three covered tiers around an open-roofed courtyard with standing room for 340 ‘groundlings’.

Both theatres will be located within a Shakespearean village, bringing an authentic Elizabethan ambience and theatricality to the event, with ‘wagon’ performances of Elizabethan-style entertainment and the oak-framed and reed-thatched Bear Arms pub serving the best local food and drinks.  In York the village will feature an Elizabethan garden with ornate box-edged beds of flowers and herbs as well as a water fountain, while Blenheim Palace will feature a rustic rural scene complete with village pond, farm wagons and carts.