Initial casting has been announced for shows opening at a new pop up replica of the Elizabethan theatre which was home to the original runs of Shakespeare's plays.
The new Rose Theatre will be placed near Clifford's Tower in York, and is inspired by the Rose Playhouse which was built in 1587, twelve years before the Globe Theatre.
The theatre will open this June with productions of Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Damian Cruden and Juliet Forster respectively and Romeo and Juliet and Richard III both directed by Lindsay Posner. An ensemble of 34 actors will be divided into two companies, each of which will tackle two shows.
Versailles star Alexander Vlahos will play Romeo opposite The Musketeers' Alexandra Dowling as Juliet in the tragic love story. Dyfan Dwyfor will play Richard III in the history. The three are joined by Emma Darlow, Gabriel Fleary, David Fleeshman, Charlyne Francis, Robert Gwilym, Julie Legrand, Tom Lorcan, Joey Phillips, Shanaya Rafaat, Dale Rapley, Emily Raymond, Edward Sayer, Julia Swift and Richard Teverson in one of the companies. The company will have choreography by Mike Ashcroft, design by Lee Newby, costume design by Sue Willmington, composition by Olly Fox, fight direction by Kate Waters and voice coaching from Yvonne Morley
The other company, performing Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream, will be composed of Gareth Aled, Leandra Ashton, Antony Bunsee, Clare Corbett, Fine Time Fontayne, Maria Gray, Paul Hawkyard, Mark Holgate, Emilia Iannucci, Amy Lennox, Rina Mahoney, Olivia Onyehara, Jordan Peters, Amanda Ryan, Robin Simpson and Richard Standing. The production of A Midsummer Night's Dream will see a gender-swapped Titania played by Bunsee with Ryan taking on the role of Oberon. The two shows will have design by Sara Perks, choreography by Philippa Vafadari, composition by Chris Madin, fight direction by Jonathan Holby and voice coaching from Morley.
The theatre will be constructed from scaffolding, corrugated iron and timber, with 13 sides, in-keeping with the classic design of an original 16th century Shakespearean theatre. The theatre will house 950 people with 600 on balconies and standing room for 350 groundlings. There will be two performances every day, seven days a week.
Posner said: "If you think this is going to be a piece of heritage theatre and nothing else, this is not the case. The breadth and depth of Shakespeare's pieces are written with such complexity that they are open to interpretation. We will be reinterpreting these plays to reflect the preoccupations of the day. We hope to make them provocative and challenging as well as entertaining and accessible."
The theatre will sit within a Shakespearean village, which will showcase the food and drink of Yorkshire curated by chef Brian Turner alongside free performances on 19th-century wagons. The theatre will be constructed in June with the shows running from 25 June to 2 September.
Producer James Cundall said: "This is the most ambitious privately funded project in York for many decades. It's Europe's first ever pop up Shakespeare theatre. It's a big undertaking to pop it into a city centre so quickly. Nobody is more than 15 metres from the stage."
- A Midsummer Night's Dream
- Romeo and Juliet
- York Theatre Royal
- Richard III
- David Fleeshman
- Rose Theatre
- Juliet Forster
- Amanda Ryan
- Emily Raymond
- Alexandra Dowling
- Alexander Vlahos
- Clare Corbett
- Charlyne Francis
- Gareth Aled
- Lyndsay Posner
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