Shakespeare's new London playhouse to open without the Bard

LONDON Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:44pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - A new playhouse attached to Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London announced its inaugural season on Monday, but there was no room for a single work by the Bard.

Instead the opening line-up at the candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, named after the American director who pioneered the main Globe, will feature three Jacobean plays including John Webster's bloodfest "The Duchess of Malfi".

Also part of the programme in the tiny red brick building adjacent to the Globe will be a new youth company and a collaboration with the Royal Opera House.

"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," artistic director Dominic Dromgoole told reporters.

Dromgoole will direct Webster's Malfi first, followed by the anarchic comedy "The Knight of the Burning Pestle" by Francis Beaumont and a production of John Marston's "The Malcontent" by the newly created youth company.

The new playhouse will also collaborate with Britain's Royal Opera to put on 17th century Italian composer Francesco Cavalli's "L'Ormindo".

"It's going to be astonishingly small, incredibly intimate with 360 people packed into a very tiny space," Dromgoole said at a briefing in the Globe's sleekly refurbished foyer.

Royal Opera's director of opera Kasper Holten said he jumped at the chance to bring Cavalli to the new theatre on London's South Bank, which launches its opening season in January, 2014.

"I just couldn't keep my hands off this one," he said.

A company of 12- to 16-year-olds will make up the Globe Young Players, following a countrywide search and training by the Globe's resident experts in the craft and performance of early modern drama.

Grammy Award-winning guitarist John Williams will curate and perform in a four-concert sequence, working with fellow guitarist Pavel Steidl, kora player Tunde Jegede and guitarist John Etheridge to present concerts on selected dates.

Vocal ensemble I Fagiolini, who specialise in performing Italian and English music of the 16th and 17th centuries, will present two contrasting pieces from early 17th century Venice.

Like the Globe, the new indoor venue has been designed with careful research into the materials, methods, and decorative aesthetics of Jacobean buildings by a team of leading experts.

The original project to rebuild Shakespeare's Globe, which burned down in 1613 after its thatched roof caught fire, was initiated by Wanamaker after his first visit to London in 1949.

It opened in 1997, four years after his death.

(Reporting by Paul Casciato; editing by Mike Collett-White)

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