Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre at Blenheim Palace is Europe’s first ever pop-up, outdoor Shakespearean theatre and arrives at the iconic Blenheim Palace this summer with it’s renditions of Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III and Romeo and Juliet. Be transported to an intimate and authentic Elizabethan playhouse, with plenty of spine-tingling moments.
We grabbed five minutes with artistic director Damian Cruden, to talk all things Churchill, Shakespeare’s legacy, and pop-up theatre.
Out of the many renowned plays Shakespeare has written, what made you decide upon the 4 that make up the season at Blenheim Palace?
The selection of plays – made by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions – offers such an amazing choice of theatre with arguably four of the greatest plays ever written in the English language. Politics, Tragedy, Comedy and Drama, weave through these works seamlessly. Some of the most quoted lines ever written rest within them, spoken by some of the most engaging characters ever created. They are challenging yet accessible and are amongst the most influential pieces of theatre ever to be created. They are must-see works of art, an essential part of anyone’s bucket list. To see one is a tasty dish, two offers the opportunity to savour feisty contrasting dramatic flavours, three is a festival-like feast and all four a cultural culinary delight never to be forgotten! All to be experienced in the most amazing theatrical space, located in one of the nation’s most fabulous settings, Blenheim Palace!
What makes former Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s home, Blenheim Palace, the perfect setting for these productions?
Firstly Shakespeare’s Way – the route Shakespeare would have taken from Stratford to London runs through the centre of Blenheim Park, which seems to be serendipitous; secondly the setting is magical (what better place for a dream), thirdly as a cultural destination for hundreds of thousands of people this is an ideal opportunity to extend the visitor experience to enjoy these great works of our cultural heritage in our vibrant and ever relevant productions, whilst visiting a site of equal importance in the cultural narrative of the UK. Iconic partners.
With new film, theatre and opera remakes still being made to this day, why do you think that Shakespeare’s legacy has lived on for so long?
Shakespeare’s work remains relevant whether from a personal, social or political perspective. The subject matter continues to inform us of the nature of the human condition. With such great humour and passion applied we cannot but love the work. The opportunity to experience the plays in a space conforming to that for which it was originally created offers us the opportunity to meet the work in a form that perfectly fits. That it will remain sharp and engaging is a testament to the writing and the performers who will work hard this summer to entertain our audiences. The nature of the space makes the experience truly immersive in style, and you don’t get much more contemporary than that!
Why did you decide to create a pop-up theatre instead of using an existing one?
We wanted to recreate, as closely as possible, the intimate space of an Elizabethan playhouse, where no audience member is more than 15 metres from the action. With seating almost encircling the stage, and a standing ‘groundlings’ area right in front of the stage, through which the actors make many entrances and exits, there is an intensity to the performance for both audience and actors which modern existing theatres cannot match. The pop-up space is a wonderful enhancement to the text. As the plays were originally intended for such spaces we are able to offer the text in a form that feels appropriate, whilst remaining contemporary in flavour and energy. That the space can pop up allows us to pitch camp in places like Blenheim and offer a unique experience to audiences.
What makes Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre stand out from other Shakespeare productions?
The event aspect of this is quite exceptional. The experience to be had by the audience is unlike any normal theatre experience. The close intimacy of the space draws the audience into the event and engages us in a way that conventional theatre experiences can struggle to do. Our productions are engaged with our desire to offer clear accessible versions of the text, fluid in style, swift in nature, energised and exciting to watch. The design is rich yet uncluttered and it is our intention that everyone can experience the work in a relaxed and fun manner – from groundlings to the premium seats we want people to connect with the stories we tell and for that connection to be easy.
You can still get tickets just in time for these unmissable productions.
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