Shakespeare's Globe in London is taking new productions of King Lear and The Taming of the Shrew on the road this summer as part of its award-winning, small-scale touring program. Both small troupes of actors will perform on a traditional booth stage—inspired by Elizabethan paintings and etchings—at castles, country houses, churches, and theaters around the world. This is a rare opportunity to experience the freshness and simplicity of the theater tour as it was in Shakespeare's day.
Joseph Marcell (best known as Geoffrey in the hit U.S. sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) will take on the role of Lear. Marcell is a world-class Shakespearean actor who has worked extensively with Shakespeare's Globe, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Folger Shakespeare Theatre, and the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Rawiri Paratene, star of the Oscar-nominated film Whale Rider, will play Gloucester. The involvement of international stars of this caliber is proof that the Globe's tours might remain small in scale, but not in status.
King Lear will be performed at 16 venues in the UK and Europe, including the Elizabethan Parham House and Kronborg Castle in Denmark, immortalized as Elsinore in Hamlet. The tour will also take in the spectacular Hagia Irene in Istanbul, which dates back to 548 A.D. This Byzantine church is set within the Topkapi Palace, the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for four centuries. With its soaring domed apse and extraordinary acoustics, it will provide a stunningly atmospheric setting for Shakespeare's classic exploration of power, cruelty, and despair.
The Taming of the Shrew will be performed with an all-female cast, as it was in the play's inaugural performance at the Globe in 2003. The tour will conclude with four nights in Hong Kong and 10 nights in Singapore, the first foray into Asia for a Globe theater tour. Director Joe Murphy is artistic director of Nabokov, an acclaimed new writing company. The production will be designed by Hannah Clark, winner of the Linbury Biennial Prize for Stage Design.
Marcell trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and has been acting for 37 years. His theater credits include Coriolanus and Under the Black Flag (Shakespeare's Globe), Crates and Barrels, Anthony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus (Royal Shakespeare Company), and Othello (Lyric Theatre). Marcell has also played leading roles in the films Cry Freedom and A Beautiful Life.
Paratene, who played the male lead in Whale Rider, is also a writer, actor, and director for theater and a television star in his native New Zealand. At the Globe, he appeared as Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet before bringing his own touring company with a Maori version of Troilus and Cressida as part of 2012's Globe to Globe season.
King Lear will be directed by Bill Buckhurst, whose previous directing credits include Hamlet, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare's Globe), Get Santa! (Royal Court), and Riff Raff (Arcola Theatre).
King Lear dates and venues:
The Taming of the Shrew, dates and venues:
March 25, 2013