Shakespeare’s Globe reveals plans for 2007

Renaissance and Revolution is the theme of this year's season at the Globe. Artistic director Dominic Dromgoole has been speaking about the theatre's plans.

Shakespeare's Globe
Shakespeare's Globe

Announcing his second season in charge of the Bankside theatre Dominic Dromgoole was keen to extoll the success of the 2006 season: "We had a fantastic time ... we were up in terms of our box office on 2005 and on 2003," he told journalists.

"We got a variety of critical response and a variety of critical understanding which we hadn't quite achieved before.

"There was a huge buzz around the place and a great sense of new audiences here."

Dromgoole spoke about some of the more memorable elements of the 2006 season: "We had a field hospital outside on the piazza that we built for Titus Andronicus. They were dropping like flies. We would lose about 30 people every performance collapsing and being carried into the piazza.

"It was a testament to the power of live theatre really. What people were watching wasn't anything like what they watch in a movie or on television, but it's extraordinary that in there it all has so much greater weight and electricity that they were dropping like flies.

2007 Season

In 2007 the Globe will put on three Shakespeare plays, three new plays and a touring production of Romeo and Juliet.

"It's going to be five companies doing seven plays which is as much if not more than this place has ever attempted but we're hugely looking forward to it.

"We're doing all of it without a single penn'oth of government money... how do we do it?!

Asked about ticket prices, Dromgoole replied: "5 groundlings can't really change. I can't see it ever changing. it's such a good deal and it's been going on so long here.

"The 5 thing is iconic and it's simple. The energy that you get from the yard is what makes this place.

"Our average ticket price is about 15.50 which is still significantly lower than all the major subsidised companies."

Othello, The Merchant of Venice and Love's Labour's Lost

Introducing the Shakespeare programme of Othello, The Merchant of Venice and Love's Labour's Lost, Dromgoole explained: "What ties them together ... is that they're all Shakespeare writing about his own moment. They're all Shakespeare writing about the late Renaissance.

Othello will be directed by Wilson Milam ("one of the best naturalistic directors in the country") and designed by Dick Bird, whose recent credits include The Enchanted Pig at the Young Vic. The title role will be played by Eamonn Walker.

The Merchant of Venice will be directed by Rebecca Gatwood and Dromgoole himself will be at the helm for Love's Labours Lost.

New writing

As in 2006 Dromgoole is keen to stress that there's more to the Globe than Shakespeare's own works: "I think that it's important to do new writing. It reminds people that this is the greatest writer's theatre of all time.

"It's important to have writers here to remind people that Shakespeare was a writer himself and that he was sweaty, nervous, paranoid, tense, delightful, full of fun just like all writers are."

Howard Brenton's In Extremis returns for a two week run in June: "I think that it's important that we follow through on our new writing and if a play does do well that we don't just let it die then and there and we do give it a chance to breathe again."

"We has such a wonderful time with it and it got such an extraordinary response from the audiences that we were determined to bring it back."

Two brand new works will premiere at the Globe this year: Holding Fire! by Jack Shepherd and We, The People by Eric Schlosser.

"Both plays deal in participation in democracy and the fact that a passion about how a country is governed is important – and the passion about the use of a vote is important – and the fact that a vote is a greater and a more important thing than just a way of disposing of Jade Goody from the Big Brother house," says Dromgoole.

"I do think that the Globe is probably the most democratic space that I've ever worked in and it's suited to those sorts of arguments.

"It's not party political; it's just trying to refresh the whole idea of what a political play is."

Holding Fire! ("a fantastic great big pageant of a play") "...deals with the Chartist revolution when the working class provoked what was almost a civil war within England but they demanded that Parliament refresh itself and get rid of the corrupt practicies whereby landowners had a disproportionate amount of power".

Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser's We, The People is the story of the Philadelphia convention of 1787, the 40-day gathering that wrote the American constitution.

Globe on tour

Another new initiative with its roots in the history of Bankside is this year's touring production of Romeo and Juliet which will tour open-air non-theatrical spaces across the UK during the summer, "just as 400 years ago they used to tour out of here all the time".

The shows will be smaller than the productions on the Globe stage, with six or seven actors and one musician. Although the Elizabethan horse and cart will be replaced by a minibus, Dromgoole says that the touring productions will share the "principles of minimalism and a sense of theatricality and inventiveness from limited means" of Shakespeare's day.

Shakespeare's Birthday

Shakespeare's birthday – which coincides with St George's day on 23 April – is always a big day at the Globe, and this year's celebrations will have an Italian theme: "We're going to have Italian traders in the UnderGlobe selling sausages and red wine we hope.

"We're going to have a Commedia-influenced collection of things going on on the stage doing workshops and getting the public up on stage and all the things we usually do on Shakespeare's Birthday

"This year it's on 22 April – the day before Shakespeare's Birthday – which is a Sunday so that all the families can come.

"Then on 23 April with the co-operation of the British Film Institure we are projecting silent Shakespeare films onto the Globe from beyond on two different sides and we're going to have a string quartet with a piano playing mood music to go with the images that are being projected on the Globe. And that's with the kind help of Ken Livingstone.

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