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Shakespeare’s Rose: a pop-up Elizabethan theatre opens in York


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Shakespeare’s Rose, founded by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, is a replica of the Rose theatre on London’s Southbank in the 14th century.

It imitates the “very authentic” and “intimate” architecture of its inspiration, comprising a yard for the “groundlings,” balconies, trap doors and flying equipment used in Shakespearean drama.

“If Shakespeare popped into York today, he would totally recognise it. although he would say where is my oak bean and what is that scaffolding,” says James Cundall, producer of the theatre.

York, where the theatre has been built

Located in a carpark behind York’s Clifford Tower, the theatre cost £3m to produce over 28 days. It sits a total of 950 people across balconies and standing areas. Along with it popped up an Elizabethan-style village where theatre-goers can experience the full Renaissance entertainment that Shakespeare once did, including street food sold from cabins, a Romeo and Juliet-themed garden, and 16th century-inspired music from the local band York Waits.

The theatre opened on June 25th with an appearance from the archbishop of York, John Sentamu who recited two of Shakespeare’s speeches, and was followed with the first production of Macbeth from Cundall’s company.

But the naming of the theatre has received backlash from Shakespeare academics who have called attention to the fact that the original Rose on the south bank was set up by Philip Henslowe, a theatre-rival of Shakespeare.

However, Professor Judith Buchanan of the University of York has said: “It is an approximate and suggestive architectural allusion to the idea of the early modern playhouse."

Cundall ensures to reproduce the same theatrical setting of early modern theatre through “breath-taking, spine-tingling, heart-stopping actions” for “audiences [to] experience the comic heights and tragic depths” of Shakespearean drama.

The venue will run in repertory until September, showcasing Shakespeare’s Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and Richard III with the cast involving Alexander Vlahos of TV series Versailles and Merlin, and Alexandra Dowling from BBC One’s The Musketeers.

Attribution - Holly Stone, KY Shakespeare in the Parks - Macbeth.

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