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Cowan Plays Macbeth in Globe's Kings Season

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Artistic director Dominic Dromgoole today announced further details of the forthcoming Kings and Rogues season at Shakespeare’s Globe (See News, 30 Nov 2009), which runs from 23 April to 3 October 2010.

Macbeth, directed by Globe returnee Lucy Bailey, starts the season off on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23 April, and runs until 27 June. The production will star Elliot Cowan, recently seen in the Donmar's award-winning revival of A Streetcar Named Desire, as Macbeth, alongside Globe regular Laura Rogers (A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like it) as Lady Macbeth. The production will feature the choreography of Olivier Award-winner Javier De Frutos (Cabaret).

Henry VIII follows from 15 May to 21 August. Mark Rosenblatt directs and Dominic Rowan, who is currently performing in Thea Sharrock’s The Misanthrope at the Comedy Theatre, stars.

Next up, from 24 July to 21 August, comes the world premiere of a new play by Howard Brenton about the political and religious controversy surrounding Anne Boleyn and her relationship with Henry VIII and the exiled William Tyndale. Anne Boleyn will be directed by John Dove and will share a cast with Rosenblatt’s Henry VIII.

Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, directed by Dromgoole himself, will run from 6 June to 2 October and 3 July to 3 October respectively. Jamie Parker, seen in last year’s Globe productions of A New World and As You Like It, will be taking on the role of Prince Hal, while William Gaunt will play Worcester and Shallow. 

Dromgoole spoke this morning of his decision to present these history plays in isolation, rather than as part of a complete histories cycle, as they are often produced. This will allow audiences to engage with them as “realist texts”, rather than mere “historical documents”, he explained.

None of the Henrys have ever been performed at the Globe and Dromgoole was keen to underline how much performing Shakespeare’s plays in the theatre’s unique environment has to offer in terms of gaining insights into the work.

Drawing the season to a close is a revival of Christopher Luscombe’s 2008 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor (from 14 August to 2 October) and the world premiere of Nell Leyshon’s Bedlam (from 5 September to 1 October).

Bedlam is a fictionalised exploration of life at the Bethlem Hospital, a London institution dating back to the 13th-century. Set in the early 18th-century, a time when the mentally ill were contained rather than treated, and put on show for all to see, the play considers morality and madness, voyeurism and anarchy.

Dromgoole commented that the aim of this new season is to build on the successes of last year (which saw the highest ever attendance figures in the theatre’s 13-year history) and continue to attract new audiences to the riverside venue. Both playwrights spoke of the challenge and accompanying excitement of writing for the Globe, Brenton calling it “the experimental theatre” and Leyshon commenting that the venue “calls out for strong stories”.

Coming to a cinema near you

In addition to the live theatre season, Dromgoole announced that three productions from last year will be screened in cinemas and released on DVD and Blu-Ray later this month (dates to be announced).

Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It and Love’s Labour’s Lost, which were filmed in association with Opus Arte, the Royal Opera House’s multi-media production company, will be shown at Odeon, Vue and selected independent cinemas in February, followed by international screenings later in the year. The DVD will be available on 1 April.

There are also plans to make the films available to download on demand, although details of this aspect of the release are not yet confirmed.


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