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Globe Gets into Greek Drama, More 2009 Premieres

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Shakespeare’s Globe will go back even further than the bard in the classical canon next summer with its first full-scale Greek drama, a new version of Euripides’ fifth-century BC play Helen. The 2009 summer season at the open-air Bankside landmark will also include a new play by Trevor Griffiths, a return run for Che Walker’s modern Tube-set play The Frontline, three new Shakespeare productions and a revival of the theatre’s 2007 production of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Commenting on the new season, which runs from 23 April (Shakespeare’s birthday) to 10 October 2009 under the banner theme of “Young Hearts”, artistic director Dominic Dromgoole said: “At Shakespeare’s Globe, each new performance feels like a new burst of energy and a new beginning. The 2009 season of ‘Young Hearts’ celebrates the heedless joy of youth, a love of life and the enduring passion of our audiences.”

In addition to the London season, the Globe will launch small-scale, outdoor touring productions of The Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The announcement of the 2009 schedule follows the success of the 2008 summer season, which attracted over 330,000 theatregoers to 253 performances of eight different shows at the Globe (averaging 83% capacity attendance across the entire season) and grossed more than £5.3 million in ticket sales. Unlike other flagship theatre companies like the National and the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Globe receives no public subsidy.

Dominic Dromgoole’s own production of Romeo and Juliet will open the 2009 season, running in rep from 30 April to 23 August (previews from 23 April). The other two new Shakespeares will be As You Like It, running 8 June to 10 October (previews from 30 May), and Troilus and Cressida, from 22 July to 20 September (previews from 12 July). Dromgoole’s revival of Love’s Labour’s Lost will return from 25 September to 10 October prior to a North American tour.

The non-Shakespeare schedule commences with The Frontline, Che Walker’s modern tale set outside Camden Tube station on a Saturday night, where 23 actors bring the panoply of modern London to life. The piece, commissioned by the Globe, premiered this past July and returns from 8 to 23 May 2009 (previews from 5 May).

Following his success with new versions of Greek dramas Hecuba, Phaedra and, currently at the National starring Ralph Fiennes, Oedipus, Irish playwright Frank McGuinness tackles Euripides lesser-known play Helen, dating from circa 412 BC. Having never arrived in Troy, Helen is now trying to escape from Egypt and the marriage intentions of its king. Helen runs from 5 to 23 August 2009 (previews from 2 August).

Trevor Griffiths’ new play A New World, written to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of Thomas Paine, receives its world premiere on 3 September (previews from 29 August) and continues in rep until 9 October 2009. The song-filled piece charts the life and loves of the British revolutionary and author of The Rights of Man. Griffiths’ other plays include Comedians, Reds, Piano and Thatcher’s Children.

Further creative and cast details have not yet been announced for the 2009 Globe season, for which public booking will open on 14 February 2009.

- by Terri Paddock


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