Christopher Marlowe returns to the Rose Theatre today (7 July 2009). A special film, The Genius of Christopher Marlowe, has been produced to enable visitors to the Elizabethan landmark’s excavation site on Bankside to imagine how Marlowe’s plays might have been seen and heard by audiences in the place where they were first performed.

The 35-minute film features extracts from all of Marlowe’s plays, performed by a cast including Ian McKellen, Alan Rickman, Henry Goodman, Frances Barber, Shaun Parkes, Joseph Fiennes, Charlie Cox, Kevin R McNally, Clive Francis, John Shrapnel, Rebecca Night, Antony Sher and Harriet Walter, with additional voiceovers from Judi Dench and Derek Jacobi.

The new 35-minute film is conceived by set designer William Dudley, who also designed the existing on-site exhibition, devised by Robert Pennant Jones and directed by Paul Marcus.

Built in 1587 near the site of the modern Globe reconstruction, the Rose was the first theatre on the south Bank of the Thames and it's believed that Shakespeare also performed there as a young actor. Its remains were rediscovered in the base of an office block in 1989. A “Save the Rose” campaign was waged by a number of high-profile actors including Dench and McKellen and eventually property developers agreed to redesign the site’s new office building to include a special basement display space for the preserved theatre remains.

The theatre exhibition also includes the outline of the stage and auditorium and another video narrated by Ian McKellen and including a message from Laurence Olivier, parodying his famous speech from Henry V (“Cry God for Harry, England and the Rose”), recorded days before his death in 1989.

The Genius of Christopher Marlowe will be shown at the Rose Theatre daily at 6.00pm from 10 July 2009. For further information, visit www.rosetheatre.org.uk.


Meanwhile, at the modern Rose Theatre Kingston, founded by Sir Peter Hall and modelled on the Elizabethan original, plans have been announced for the new autumn 2009 season, which will include three new in-house productions and, for a second year, the transfer of two hits from Hall’s annual summer repertory season at the Theatre Royal Bath (See News, 17 Mar 2009).

The Theatre Royal Bath productions are: the double bill of two one-acters, Terence Rattigan’s The Browning Version and Anton Chekhov’s Swan Song (1889), both directed by Hall and starring Peter Bowles, Charles Edwards and James Laurenson (7 to 12 September); and Alan Strachan’s revival of Michael Frayn’s 1978 comedy Balmoral, starring Rik Mayall (14 to 19 September).

These are followed by the Rose’s own two-month Behind Closed Doors programme, examining what happens in the privacy of other people’s homes via revivals, running in rep from 15 October to 28 November 2009 (previews from 1 October) of Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce, directed by Hall and Strindberg’s Miss Julie, directed by current artistic director Stephen Unwin.

The year concludes with a festive season of Treasure Island (11 December to 9 January), adapted by Karen Louise Hebden, who also adapted the Rose’s first Christmas offering, A Christmas Carol, in 2008. There will also be visiting productions of Hot Mikado (22 to 26 September) and Skellig (1 to 5 December).

The Rose Kingston, which cost £11 million and was over six years in development, opened in January 2008. The main auditorium is housed within a modern building but follows the same horseshoe-shaped ground plan of Elizabethan London’s Rose. Like the original, Kingston’s 900-capacity Rose comprises a promontory stage surrounded by three tiers of seating and a pit for audience ‘groundlings’. The Rose Kingston was spearheaded by Peter Hall who, at the time of opening, Hall handed over full-time administrative responsibility to Stephen Unwin (See News, 21 Jan 2008).