Inaugural Season Announced for New Indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at London's Shakespeare's Globe

By Mark Shenton
April 22, 2013

The new indoor Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at London's Shakespeare's Globe has announced its inaugural season to open next January, which will feature early modern drama, opera and a series of one-off performances and concerts.



The program will include new productions of John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi and Francis Beaumont's The Knight of the Burning Pestle, plus Eileen Atkins in Ellen Terry, a one-woman celebration of the 19th-century Shakespearean actress that Atkins has also adapted, and a collaboration with The Royal Opera on a production of Cavalli's L'Ormindo.

The Duchess of Malfi will begin performances Jan. 9, 2014, prior to an official opening Jan. 15, for a run through Feb. 16. Globe artistic director Dominic Dromgoole will direct this inaugural production, to be followed by The Knight of the Burning Pestle, beginning performances Feb. 20, prior to an official opening Feb. 26, for a run through March 30. Cavalli's romantic operatic farce L'Ormindo, co-produced with the Royal Opera House, will run March 25-April 12, directed by the Royal Opera's director of opera Kasper Holten.

In a press statement, Dromgoole commented, "The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse offers us a unique opportunity to explore the theatre practice of Shakespeare's day, and the theatrical context within which he worked.  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.  We hope that the Wanamaker Playhouse will afford as many insights, and prove as theatrically rejuvenating, as the Globe has proved over the last sixteen years."

Holten commented about the opera, being seen in its first performances in the UK since a production at Glyndebourne in 1967: "I just couldn’t keep my hands off this one. Cavalli’s opera does not shy away from the cheapest tricks in the book, and we hope that by presenting it in this incredible setting with such a wonderful cast and an expert musician like Christian Curnyn conducting, we can combine the low comedy and the sublime, and create an evening that will both be full of insights and shamelessly entertaining."

Eileen Atkins will perform her solo show Ellen Terry on Sundays and Mondays from Jan. 12-23. Further productions include the newly-formed Globe Young Players, a company of 12-16 year olds, in John Marston's The Malcontents, running April 3-19, and musical evenings featuring harpsichordist and conductor Trevor Pinnock (March 2 and 3), guitarist John Williams (between March 9 and 17), vocal ensemble I Fagiolini (April 6-7), Armania, an evening of Armenian folksong, dance and poetry curated and directed by Seta White (April 13-14) and musical comedy from Rubberbandits (March 30-31).

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse will provide an indoor playing space during the winter months and will host a wide variety of events all year round. With a handmade oak structure and pit seating, it is lit by hundreds of candles during performances. The Playhouse will seat 340 people. The new indoor venue has been designed with careful research into the materials, methods, and the decorative aesthetics of Jacobean buildings by a team of leading experts.  According to press materials, the presentation of early works in their intended atmosphere offers unparalleled opportunity to unlock the secrets of indoor performance in the seventeenth century.

Public booking for the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse opens May 14, with priority booking for friends and patrons from April 29. To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7401 9919 or visit shakespearesglobe.com for more details.