Tonight (11 September 2003), for the first time since its closure in 1603, the Rose Theatre in the London borough of Southwark, site of Shakespeare's early career and the plays of Christopher Marlowe, will play host to a full theatrical production. At the archaeological site, discovered in 1989 and still being excavated, a new staging of Marlowe's Tamburlaine The Great will be performed in a limited season up to 22 September 2003.

Marlowe's 16th-century epic tells the story of Timur-I-Lenk, the 14th-century central Asian conqueror. This new adaptation by Ben Power condenses the original two plays. Khalid Abdalla, taking the title role, leads the eight-strong, all-male ensemble, under the direction of Ben Naylor. Design for the Rose space is by Katy Tuxford, with costumes by Nikos Stavroulakis, movement by Anna Morrissey and original music by Jon Boden. Tamburlaine The Great is produced by Alexander Holt.

The 400th anniversary production also marks the launch of Cannon's Mouth, a new classical ensemble, under the patronage of director Peter Hall, comprised entirely of young actors "intent on discovering a new voice for the great metaphorical dramas of the Renaissance, while receiving guidance from some of the greatest names in classical theatre". Cannon's Mouth associate artists include Peter Blythe, Samantha Bond, Greg Hicks, William Houston and Harriet Walter.

- by Terri Paddock