While it may seem that its 2003 "Season of Regime Change" has only just ended (See News, 8 Jan 2003), Shakespeare's Globe is wasting no time. Much earlier than usual, it has today confirmed preliminary details for summer 2004.

Next year's season, running from 7 May to 26 September 2004, will explore the theme of "Star-Crossed Lovers" in three of Shakespeare's best-loved and most romantic plays: Much Ado About Nothing, Measure for Measure and, the tale of those quintessential star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet will be an original practices production exploring clothing, music, dance and settings from Shakespeare's time. It and Measure for Measure will be performed by mixed-sex companies.

Following on the success of this year's productions of Richard II and The Taming of the Shrew, performed by an all-female company including Kathryn Hunter and Janet McTeer, Much Ado About Nothing will be staged by women only.

The exact repertory schedule - as well as creative and cast details - have not yet been confirmed for summer 2004. However, the Globe has confirmed that, throughout the season, it will be working with The Samaritans, the emotional support charity which marks its 50th anniversary next year.

Commenting on the awareness-raising initiative, Globe artistic director Mark Rylance said: "Working with Samaritans, who respond every minute of every day and night to those of us who face in isolation some obstacle to our emotional well-being, we at the Globe have found a partner in our own work to gather people together in a beneficial space of language and communication."

Chair of Samaritans Daphne Pullen added: "The emotional themes dramatised by Shakespeare in these three plays have strong resonance in the issues with which Samaritans deals today. We look forward to exploring these connections with Shakespeare's Globe."

- by Terri Paddock