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Sam Wanamaker Playhouse: theatre, opera & music on Bankside

The candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare's Globe will open on 9 January 2014 with a production of The Duchess of Malfi, the theatre has announced.

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Computer generated image of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse by Allies and Morrison

The first season at the new indoor Jacobean-style theatre will focus on "Shakespeare's backing group" rather than the Bard himself, artistic director Dominic Dromgoole has revealed.

The inaugural productions at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse will make a point of looking "farther and wider" than the repertoire of the main Globe replica, though in time Shakespeare's later works, which were written for indoor performance, will be introduced to the line-up.

The season opens with John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi followed by Francis Beaumont's comedy The Knight of the Burning Pestle.

Dominic Dromgoole said: "The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse offers us a unique opportunity to explore the theatre practice of Shakespeare's day, and the theatrical context within which he worked.

"In time we will perform the plays of Shakespeare in there, but we could not be more delighted than to be opening this theatre with three such shining jewels from this time a macabre tragedy, a riotous comedy and a beautiful philosophical satire.

"We hope that the Wanamaker Playhouse will afford as many insights, and prove as theatrically rejuvenating, as the Globe has proved over the last 16 years."

Opera and classical music will also be staple fare for Bankside's newest theatre: a new English version of Francesco Cavalli's L'Ormindo will open in March 2014 as a collaboration with the Royal Opera.

The Royal Opera's director of opera Kasper Holten, who says he leapt at the chance to present opera in the intimate 240-seat venue, promises a "shamelessly entertaining" evening.

Concerts curated by – and featuring – Trevor Pinnock and John Williams also form part of the Wanamaker Playhouse season.

Shakespeare's Globe has announced plans to form the Globe Young Players, a new company of 16 talented 12-to-16-year-olds, who will perform John Marston's The Malcontent next April.

The new company's involvement is an echo of the play's debut at Blackfriars Playhouse just across the Thames from Bankside where the same work was performed by the Children of the Chapel.

Following a countrywide search for young talent later this year, the Young Players company will be formed and trained by the Globe's resident experts in the craft and performance of early modern drama.

Detailed plans for the indoor Jacobean theatre – which has existed in shell form on New Globe Walk since the mid-1990s – were announced last year.

Since then, the Globe has decided to refer to the new space as the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (rather than theatre) in order to minimise confusion with the main Globe theatre auditorium.

The Globe still needs to raise 600,000 of the 7.5 million cost of fitting out the new theatre. An anonymous benefactor has pledged to match public donations pound-for-pound.

Ticket prices for productions in the new space start at 10 for standing tickets; public booking opens in mid-May.

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