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Big ambitions for Shakespeare’s Globe in 2008

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 18 April 2008

Dominic Dromgoole has announced an ambitious new season for Shakespeare’s Globe in 2008, which kicks off earlier than usual on 23 April, Shakespeare’s birthday, with the tragedy King Lear.

Presented under the banner Totus Mundus, thought to have been part of the motto of the original Globe – Totus mundus agit histrionem (The whole world is a playhouse) – the season comprises four Shakespeare plays, two new commissions, two touring productions and one new production by a visiting company.

Following King Lear (23 April-17 August, press night 29 April), which Dromgoole himself directs, the quartet of Shakespeare plays is completed by: summer comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream (10 May-4 October, press night 21 May); bourgeois farce The Merry Wives Of Windsor (8 June-5 October, press night 18 June), which sees director Christopher Luscombe and designer Janet Bird return to the venue following last year’s The Comedy Of Errors; and the rarely performed satire Timon Of Athens (26 July-3 October, press night 6 August), directed by Lucy Bailey and designed by William Dudley.

As last year, the season also comprises two new plays commissioned by Shakespeare’s Globe. Frontline (6 July-17 August, press night 9 July), by 2003 George Devine Award-winner Ché Walker, is a modern tale of London life on the edge, set on a Saturday night outside Camden tube. Glyn Maxwell’s Liberty (31 August-4 October, press night 3 September) is an adaptation of Anatole France’s 1912 novel Les Dieux Ont Soif, which tells the story of a revolutionary magistrate who turns from being a radical idealist to a fanatical apologist for state violence.

The season on the main stage is completed by a new production from international theatre company Footsbarn Theatre. A Shakespeare Party, which plays on 23-25 May only, is specially conceived for the unique space of Shakespeare’s Globe.

Away from its Bankside home, Shakespeare’s Globe expands on last year’s touring programme by extending the tour of Romeo And Juliet to further UK venues, and presenting a second touring production, The Winter’s Tale, revisited by director John Dove after his 2005 production for Shakespeare’s Globe. Two performances of Romeo And Juliet will be held at its London base on 18 May prior to the tour.

Speaking about the season, Dromgoole said: “Totus mundus agit histrionem was a glorious statement of Elizabethan ambition and has been taken up by the Globe for our next theatre season. Following the achievements of our most successful box office season ever, we are delighted to be presenting such a range of Shakespeare's plays in 2008, proving the glorious unruly diversity of his genius. We are complementing these works with two big and bold new plays, which transform the reconstructed Globe into a platform for contemporary writers. We were also thrilled by the success of last year's outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet, and are very excited about expanding this area of our work.”

Further details and casting for all productions is yet to be announced. Public booking opens on 11 February.

CB

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