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Shakespeare's Globe boss Emma Rice has announced a shock final season

Andrzej Lukowski

Former Kneehigh boss Emma Rice was the surprise successor to Mark Rylance and Dominic Dromgoole who figuratively and literally electrified Shakespeare's Globe with very modern, very irreverent versions of Shakespeare's plays that brought lighting rigs and amplified sound to the recreation Elizabethan playhouse for the first time. But now it seems she's leaving after just two seasons in charge.

In a somewhat bizarre press release, Globe CEO Neil Constable thanks Rice for the commercial success she has brought to the Bankside institution, then explains that her experiments in light and sound aren't really what the Globe was intended for ('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').

Maybe it would have been better off concluding this before you hired her, eh?

Certainly it'll be interesting to see who replaces her, given the symbolic own-goal the Globe board have made in hiring a progressive artistic director and then parting ways with her for being excessively progressive. One of London's most fun theatres has made itself look considerably more stuffy and old-fashioned than it in fact ever has been. 

Anyway we don't exactly know what happened and clearly it's not so acrimonious that she's leaving straight away. Her final outdoor season has been announced today – dubbed The Summer of Love, it marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Summer of Love with… a bunch of Shakespeare plays!

It will begin with a production of 'Romeo and Juliet' (what else?) directed by ENO boss Daniel Kramer (Apr 22-Jul 9), followed by a short return for the theatre's West End smash 'Nell Gwynne' (May 2-13) starring Laura Pitt-Pulford. Next Emma Rice will direct the third and possibly final Shakespeare play of her career with 'Twelfth Night' (May 18-Aug 5), followed by a short run for Kneehigh's 'Tristan & Yseult' (Jun 13-24). The last two Shakespeare plays of the season will be Matthew Dunster directing 'Much Ado About Nothing' (Jul 14-Oct 15) and Nancy Meckler tackling 'King Lear' (Aug 10-Oct 14). The season finishes with 'Boudica' (Sep 8-Oct 1), a new play about the Roman-battling warrior queen written by Tristan Bernays.

There will be one further indoor winter season from Rice and then that will be your lot. So if you want to see some lights being used at the Globe, better hurry up. 

Public booking opens Jan 30.

Read more about Shakespeare's Globe theatre 

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