The creative teams have been announced for Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, Europe’s first ever pop-up Shakespearean Theatre, both for the return to its original site in York and at the new site at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
Both theatres will run simultaneously this summer, performing a total of eight Shakespeare plays. The plays have been selected from across the genres, offering something for everyone, and will be performed in repertory by two companies of actors based at each location, with casting to be announced.
In York, the new repertoire of plays for 2019 will be Hamlet, Henry V, The Tempest and Twelfth Night.
Damian Cruden 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 both companies. Joyce Branagh will join the company to direct Twelfth Night, Philip Franks will direct The Tempest, and Gemma Fairlie will direct Henry V. Sara Perks will be overall season designer and will act as set and costume designer for Hamlet and costume designer for Twelfth Night. Adrian Linford will be set and costume designer for The Tempest and costume designer for Henry V. Max Dorey will be scenic designer for Twelfth Night and Henry V.
The Blenheim Palace companies will be reviving the productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth as experienced in York last year as well as creating exciting new productions of Romeo & Juliet and Richard III.
Tom Wright will be Associate Director for Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Juliet Forster, who was the original director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year, will turn her skills to directing Romeo & Juliet this year. Amy Yardley will be associate scenic designer for both Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and scenic designer for Romeo & Juliet. Sarah Mercade will be associate costume designer for Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo & Juliet. Lucy Pitman-Wallace will direct Richard III, which will have scenic and costume design by Adam Nee.
Originator of the project and CEO of international theatre company, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, James Cundall MBE, said “We are thrilled that Damian Cruden is once again joining us at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, this time as overall artistic director. With him we are delighted to have found a first- class team of directors and designers for our eight productions. We are looking forward to seeing their interpretations of these great plays.”
Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre – a 13-sided Elizabethan-style playhouse, complete with an Elizabethan village – will be constructed over a three week period in the glorious grounds of ‘Britain’s Greatest Palace’ where it will run from 8 July until 7 September, whilst in York the theatre will return to the foot of 13th century Clifford’s Tower, where it will open on 25 June and run until 1 September.
At both the York and Blenheim Palace sites, the 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 on three tiered balconies 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, and will feature:
- ‘Wagon’ performances of Elizabethan-style entertainment, including comic mini-plays, speeches and medieval musicians
- The best Yorkshire and Oxfordshire food and drinks, housed in the oak-framed and reed-thatched Bear Arms pub in York, an Elizabethan garden created by Yorkshire garden designer Sally Tierney, with ornate box-edged beds of roses, cottage flowers, herbs and vegetables. Mrs Tierney is the winner of a Silver-Gilt medal at the Royal Horticultural Society’s renowned Chelsea Flower Show, and created the Elizabethan garden for Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre in York last year to great acclaim.
- In Blenheim, a village pond, farm wagons and carts, and an array of vintage farming implements, evoking a rustic rural scene tables and benches around the village, enabling visitors to enjoy the medieval atmosphere.
Dominic Hare, Chief Executive of Blenheim Palace, said “When I visited Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre in York last summer I was absolutely blown away, not only by the quality of the whole event, even down to the vintage carts and wagons, but by the extraordinary experience of seeing Shakespeare performed in such an intimate setting. It created the most astonishing connection between audience and actors, and produced some truly spine-tingling moments.”
“I immediately thought it would be the ideal summer event for Blenheim Palace and am immensely excited at the prospect of bringing these outstanding Shakespeare productions, as well as the Elizabethan experience, to such a stunning setting. We believe that Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre will bring many more visitors to the area for everyone’s benefit as well as being a marvellous cultural experience for local people.”
The Blenheim Palace season will be co-presented by Raymond Gubbay Ltd, who have a wealth of experience promoting events and concerts worldwide, including the popular ‘Christmas at Blenheim Palace’ illuminated trail and Cinderella experience.
Anthony Findlay, Chief Executive of Raymond Gubbay Ltd, said “We have had the pleasure of working closely with Blenheim Palace for the past three years and have also enjoyed successful partnerships with Lunchbox Theatrical Productions on their touring shows. It’s hugely exciting that all three companies have now joined forces to bring this fabulous Shakespearean experience to the beautiful grounds of Blenheim Palace and the audiences of Oxfordshire and beyond.”
Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre and Shakespeare’s Village are produced by Yorkshire-based Lunchbox Theatrical Productions. The Blenheim Palace season is presented in association with Raymond Gubbay Ltd and Blenheim Palace.