The Merchant Of Venice will open Shakespeare’s Globe’s 2015 summer in a season entitled Justice And Mercy that will also include a revival of The Heresy Of Love and a new play by Jessica Swale.
Joining The Merchant Of Venice in the alfresco venue’s annual offerings from the Bard’s canon are As You Like It, King John, Measure For Measure and Richard II, while Aeschylus’ The Oresteia completes the trio of plays the venue will present from other playwrights.
Kicking off the busy season, announced today at a press event by the Bankside venue’s Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole, Jonathan Munby will follow this year’s Antony And Cleopatra to direct The Merchant Of Venice from 23 April.
Famous for its gruesome premise of a loan which must be repaid by a pound of flesh, The Merchant Of Venice tells the story of moneylender Shylock and the dangerous deal he makes with Antonio in an attempt to win the hand of wealthy heiress Portia.
The dramatic piece will be followed by Accolade director Blanche McIntyre’s take on one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies As You Like It from 15 May.
The follow-up to her 2014 Shakespeare’s Globe debut production The Comedy Of Errors, As You Like It tells the story of Rosalind, the daughter of an unjustly exiled duke, who falls in love with the wronged Orlando. When she is banished from court by her jealous uncle, she does what any self-respecting Shakespearean heroine must do and disguises herself as a young man sparking all manner of hilarious misunderstandings and satirical comedy.
From 1 June, Royal & Derngate’s Artistic Director James Dacrewill present Shakespeare’s lesser known drama King John for the first time ever at Shakespeare’s Globe, offering audiences the rare chance to experience one of the playwright’s most brutal productions on stage.
Set after the death of Richard the Lionheart, John, his less than heroic brother, is determined to keep his grasp on the English throne. With his nephew hot on his heels threatening his power, however, John finds a disturbing and barbaric answer to his woes.
Dromgoole will then take the reins, with his production of Measure For Measure playing from 20 June. One of Shakespeare’s best explorations of social justice and sexual politics, the engrossing story centres on a city where its Duke, Vincentio, has withdrawn from public life, disgusted by the immorality of his people. Leaving the puritanical Angelo in charge, his zeal for observing the law sparks a ruthless programme to stamp out sexual license leaving one man’s life in the balance.
Concluding the season of Shakespeare offerings is critically acclaimed director Simon Godwin’s Richard II. Playing from 26 September, the production brings to life one of Shakespeare’s best explorations of what it means to be king and the powers that threaten the divine right to the crown.
Playing alongside the work of the theatre’s namesake is a new production of Helen Edmundson’s critically acclaimed drama The Heresy Of Love. Playing from 3 August, the 1600s-set drama tells the story of a progressive writer who finds herself at the centre of a deadly battle between two Princes of the Church. In a dangerous clash between organised religion and personal faith, the gifted writer finds herself the victim of betrayal by the very people she thought she could trust.
Adele Thomas’ production of the mythical classic The Oresteia will follow from 29 August. Aeschylus’ brutal and mystic tale tells the story of Agamemnon’s return to his palace follow the sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia. Following his murder by his adulterous queen, their estranged son Orestes is forced to avenge his father’s death.
Concluding the season with the venue’s annual new writing offering is Nell Gwynn, the follow-up to Swale’s 2012 hit Blue Stockings. Charting the rise of the unlikely heroine, the production will be set against the vibrant setting of life in the theatre in the 17th century.
Playing from 19 September, with its director yet to be announced, the story will follow her journey from her roots in Coal Pan Alley to her success as Britain’s most celebrated actress, and her hard won place in the heart of the king. But at a time when women are second class citizens, can her charm and spirit protect her from the dangers of the court? And at what cost?
The packed season will also be joined by short runs of two foreign Shakespeare productions, a Richard III (20 to 25 July) in Mandarin and Macbeth (17 to 23 August) performed in Cantonese, as well as a brief visit from a touring production of Much Ado About Nothing (10 to 12 September).