An unexpected choice when he was appointed as artistic director in 1996, Rylance has become very much the venue’s public face. Rylance will step down in 2006. In a letter to colleagues and friends he wrote, “Never has an actor had such an opportunity as you entrusted to me when I was asked to help bring your dream of a working Globe Theatre through its birth into its childhood. The completion of the indoor Inigo Jones Theatre is again in our dreams and I hope that it may help to attract a fantastic artistic director. . . I will endeavor always to be at the Globe’s service.”
During his time at the Globe, Rylance has played many roles — often to extremely good notices — including Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, Henry V and Richard II. The 2004 season has seen him as the Duke in Measure for Measure. Perhaps his best reviews were for his Olivia in the 2002 Twelfth Night. Although he has appeared elsewhere during that period, including Yasmina Reza’s West End play Life x 3 and the 2001 film “Intimacy,” his forays outside of the Globe have been few. His Globe performances in Henry V, Richard II and Measure for Measure were filmed and broadcast by BBC television.
The indoor Inigo Jones Theatre, if and when it gets built, is intended to specialize in English theatre of the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Now, though, it will be someone else leading the charge for that dream. Rylance has previously said (in an interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper) that when he leaves the Globe, he will never again direct another theatre. His tenure there has been marked by gradually improving reviews and a critical respect slowly but surely won.