Emma Rice is to step down from the artistic directorship of Shakespeare's Globe after only two seasons at the helm.
A press statement reads, “The Shakespeare Globe Trust Board together with Artistic Director, Emma Rice, have determined that the current nature of work, which has characterised the period since Emma assumed the position of Artistic Director in April 2016, will conclude in April 2018, when Emma will be leaving the Globe following its 2017/18 Winter Season.”
Neil Constable, CEO of Shakespeare's Globe, commented, “Emma's mould-breaking work has brought our theatre new and diverse audiences, won huge creative and critical acclaim, and achieved exceptionally strong box office returns. In breaking the mould, this latest season has generated productive debate concerning the purpose and theatrical practice of the Globe, in relation to the use of sound and lighting technology within our theatre spaces. Following much deliberation and discussion, the Globe Board has concluded that from April 2018, the theatre programming should be structured around 'shared light' productions without designed sound and light rigging, which characterised a large body of The Globe's work prior to Emma's appointment.
“The Globe was reconstructed as a radical experiment to explore the conditions within which Shakespeare and his contemporaries worked, and we believe this should continue to be the central tenet of our work. Whilst the realisation of Emma's vision has been a vital part of our continuing experimentation as a theatre, we have now concluded that a predominant use of contemporary sound and lighting technology will not enable us to optimise further experimentation in our unique theatre spaces and the playing conditions which they offer.”
“Shared light” productions are thus explained: “In Elizabethan amphitheatres, like the 1599 Globe Theatre, performances took place in ‘shared light’. Under such conditions, actors and audiences would be able to see each other. Using electric light to simulate daylight recreates this condition of 'shared light' for modern audiences. This attention to a key original playing condition of Shakespeare's theatre enables the actors to play 'with' rather than 'to' or 'at' audiences. Actors therefore develop their ability to give and take focus using voice, gesture and movement.”
Rice added, “I have had a wonderful time creatively here at the Globe, but I respect the Board’s decision for its future direction. I look forward to continuing to explore the possibilities of this extraordinary space over the next 18 months, excited to see even more astonishing work unfolding in the glorious wooden 'O' as well as the exquisite Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. My tenure as Artistic Director has given me the opportunity of forging relationships with the most talented array of directors, actors and Globe staff throughout my 2016 Wonder Season, who I will be sad to say farewell to. The wonder now continues with the Wonder Noir Winter Season, and ahead to my 2017 Summer Season, which promises to be filled with joy, delight and love.”
Programming for the “Summer of Love” season, marking the 50th anniversary of the summer of 1967, will include a new production of Romeo and Juliet (to be directed by Daniel Kramer), the return of Jessica Swale's Nell Gwynn, Twelfth Night (to be directed by Rice), Kneehigh's production of Tristan & Yseult (as part of a major Celtic tour for the company, which will see it travel to Cornwall, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland), Much Ado About Nothing (directed by Matthew Dunster), King Lear (directed by Nancy Meckler), and the world premiere of Tristan Bernays' Boudica (directed by Eleanor Rhode).
Public booking will open January 30.
For further details, visit shakespearesglobe.com.