Shakespeare’s Globe will be transformed into a magical forest for Emma Rice’s inaugural Wonder Season, which is set to welcome Bardic classics including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming Of The Shrew and Macbeth to the iconic venue this summer.
Rice, the first female Artistic Director of the Globe, announced her plans for the venue at a press conference this morning, where she also revealed a “renamed and reclaimed” version of Cymbeline, entitled Imogen and directed by Matthew Dunster, and Kneekigh’s 946 The Amazing Story Of Adolphus Tips.
The intriguingly titled Wonder Season will feature many of the classic Shakespeare plays that, as Rice explains in the Globe’s video announcing the 2016 summer season, have “a magical sense of folklore about them”.
The Bard’s tale of lovers and fairies A Midsummer Night’s Dream will kick off the season from 30 April. Directed by Rice, the production promises “a riotous celebration complete with music, dance and naughtiness” and will mark a fitting start for a season that sees an enchanting woodland, designed by Lez Brotherston, take over the venue and spill out onto London’s Bankside.
Continuing the female influence in the Globe’s 2016 season, Caroline Byrne will direct The Taming Of The Shrew from 13 May, with the F*ck The Polar Bears director set to transport the story of sparring couple Petruchio and Kate to a distinctly Irish setting.
Acclaimed opera and theatre director Iqbal Khan will direct a new production of Macbeth from 18 June, followed by Dunster’s Imogen from 17 September. The latter sees the Hangmen director, who was recently appointed Associate Director at the Globe, refocus Cymbeline to centre on the title character’s daughter, who has three times more lines than the eponymous monarch.
As part of Rice’s vision to make Shakespeare’s Globe accessible to the widest possible audience, the Wonder Season will also see the director’s former company Kneehigh bring its acclaimed family show 946 The Amazing Story Of Adolphus Tips to the iconic outdoor venue. Based on Michael Morpurgo’s heart-warming tale about the preparation for the D-Day Landings, the Rice and Morpurgo co-adaptation will play from 11 August to 11 September.
The quintet of new productions will take to the venue’s main stage alongside returning hit The Merchant Of Venice, which will see Jonathan Pryce reprise his 2015 performance as Shylock in October as part of a national and international tour.
Meanwhile the candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse will host three productions. Kneehigh and Bristol Old Vic co-production The Flying Lovers Of Vitebsk, which tells the story of artist/writer duo Marc and Bella Chagall’s marriage, is the first to play in the indoor space, running from 16 June to 2 July. It will be followed by a touring production of The Two Gentlemen Of Verona (19 September to 1 October), directed by Nick Bagnall, and John Wolfson’s The Inn At Lydda, which charts the story of Tiberius Caesar and a remarkable meeting with Jesus Christ, in September.
Alongside the Globe’s usual programming of captioned, audio-described and signed performances, the 2016 programme will see every main house show present a relaxed performance. In what Rice calls as an “already relaxed” venue, the performances will welcome everyone from babies to individuals with autism spectrum conditions, learning disabilities, and other sensory and communication disorders.
Rice’s Wonder Season will begin in April following what she described as “an amazing weekend” celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death to cap off Dominic Dromgoole’s incredible 10-year tenure at the helm of the venue.