New Shakespeare's Globe artistic director Dominic Dromgoole has announced details of his first season in charge, under the theme "The Edges of Rome".
Four Shakespeare plays – Coriolanus, Titus Andronicus, Antony and Cleopatra and The Comedy of Errors – together with two pieces of new writing – Simon Bent's Under the Black Flag and In Extremis by Howard Brenton – will form Shakespeare's Globe 2006 Theatre Season.
The season's theme explores the story of the Roman Empire, its reimagining in the age of Shakespeare and its continuing influence on today's world.
Public booking opens on Monday 13 February.
Set against a background of strife between the powerful aristocracy and hungry citizens of the early Roman republic, Coriolanus is a visceral and politically sharp-edged play. At its centre is Caius Martius, fresh from victory over the hated Volscians, dismissive of the Roman people and, following exile, hungry for war and retribution. Brusque, muscular language conveys insistent questions about the meaning of the heroic ideal and one man's emotional blindness. The production will employ Jacobean staging, clothing and music.
A brutal play, with both macabre verbal wit and moments of tender poetry, Shakespeare's first and great bloody tragedy has revolted some with its bad taste and mesmerised others with its startling confrontation of violence in all its shocking extremes. With nightmarish energy, Titus Andronicus is a story about war, mutilation, rape and murder, and the savage consequences of revenge. The production will employ Elizabethan staging, clothing and music.
The work of a dramatist at the height of his powers, written in language of awesome poetic intensity, Antony and Cleopatra is a story of a middle-aged love affair set against a panoramic political and geographical backdrop. Following the demise of the Roman Republic and the assasination of Julius Caesar, the triumvirate of Antony, Lepidus and Octavius has emerged. But as Antony falls under the influence of the beguiling and ambiguous Egyptian queen, political tensions emerge which threaten the fate of the Roman Empire. Against a vast political stage unfolds a civil war, and one of literature's great love tragedies. The production will employ Jacobean staging, clothing and music.
A Renaissance spin on a Roman story by Plautus, The Comedy of Errors is a short and boisterous comedy about 'Errors and Confusions'. A trade war between Syracuse and Ephesus is the background to the chaotic story of estranged twin brothers (both called Antipholus) and estranged twin servants (both called Dromio). Mixing extremes of farce and romance, the increasingly hectic action is a frenzy of storms, shipwrecks, losses at sea, conjugal conflicts and creditors chasing debts, before the final restoration of sanity.
A new play by Simon Bent (Accomplices; The Associate), Under the Black Flag is set around the historical pirate republic of Rabat, following the execution of Charles I and the installation of Cromwell and the new Commonwealth. This wild tale of high seas and low politics exposes the class hatreds and religious hypocrisy of the 17th century as John Silver and his motley crew of disaffected radicals seek freedom on the seas, under a pirate flag. The production features bare flesh and filthy language.
Written by Howard Brenton (The Romans in Britain; Paul), In Extremis uses the love affair of Abelard and Heloise to explore the relationships between logic and religion, humanism and fundamentalism, faith and power. Set in 12th century France, the play focuses on the exploration of two types of Christianity – the mysticism and austerity of Bernard of Clairvaux, and the challenge set by a new rational philosophy extolled by the erudite, sensual and dangerously independent, Peter Abelard.