There isn’t any evidence that Shakespeare visited York but he certainly used the city in his work.
Now York is preparing for a unique Summer of Shakespeare that will see four of the Bard’s greatest works performed by two companies of actors in Europe’s first pop-up replica Shakespearean theatre.
Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre will make its debut in the historic city in June for the ten-week event.
Situated beside the iconic York landmark of Clifford’s Tower, the 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, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet and Richard III, will be performed in rep throughout the season.
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.
Versailles star Alexander Vlahos will play Romeo opposite The Musketeers’ Alexandra Dowling’s Juliet while Requiem’s Dyfan Dwyfor will play Richard III.
Yorkshire’s Richard Standing (Coronation Street, Mamma Mia!) takes the role of Macbeth with York’s Leandra Ashton (Coronation Street, Holby City) as Lady Macbeth.
A gender-swapping A Midsummer Night’s Dream will see Antony Bunsee (RSC, Eastenders) play Titania with Amanda Ryan (Shameless) taking the role of Oberon.
Making up the remaining York company are Gareth Aled, Clare Corbett, Fine Time Fontayne, Maria Gray, Paul Hawkyard, Mark Holgate, Emilio Iannucci, Amy Lennox, Rina Mahoney, Olivia Onyehara, Jordan Peters and Robin Simpson.
And the rest of the London company are Emma Darlow, Gabriel Fleary, David Fleeshman, Charlyne Francis, Robert Gwilym, Julie Legrand, Tom Lorcan, Joey Phillips, Shanaya Rafaat, Dale Rapley, Emily Raymond, Edward Sayer, Julia Swift and Richard Teverson.
A trial build of the theatre, in an off-site location, has been completed with work set to begin on the actual structure at the end of May.
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.
Originator of the project and CEO of international theatre production company, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, James Cundall, said: “More than 400 years ago, the first audiences for Shakespeare’s plays enjoyed an experience that was as intimate as it was exciting, crowded in close to the actors and the action, in a small theatre in the bustling city of London.
“In Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre an experience every bit as exciting, intimate and immersive will be offered to today’s audiences in a dramatic playhouse setting beside the iconic 13th century Clifford’s Tower in the heart of the historic city of York”.
Running in repertory from June 25 – September 2.
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