Twelfth Night

July 29, 2013

'Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit.' Filled with a cast of unforgettable characters, Twelfth Night combines cruelty with high comedy and the pangs of unrequited love with some of the subtlest poetry and most exquisite songs Shakespeare ever wrote. The Globe revisits its award-winning Twelfth Night of 2002 with an all-male Original Practices production, exploring clothing, music, dance and settings possible in the Globe of around 1601. Mark Rylance reprises his performance of Olivia in Twelfth Night, 10 years after its original premiere at Middle Temple Hall and The Globe. Synopsis In the household of Olivia, two campaigns are being quietly waged - one by the lovesick lord Orsino against the heart of the indifferent Olivia; the other by an alliance of servants and hangers-on against the high-handedness of her steward, the pompous Malvolio. When Orsino engages the cross-dressed Viola to plead with Olivia on his behalf, a bittersweet chain of events follows.

Doctor Faustus is Christopher Marlowe's most renowned and controversial work. Famous for being the first dramatised version of the Faustus tale, the play depicts the sinister aftermath of Faustus's decision to sell his soul to the Devil's henchman in exchange for power and knowledge. In the first-ever staging of this menacing drama at the Globe Theatre, Matthew Dunster's production features Paul Hilton as the arrogant, power-hungry Faustus and Arthur Darvill as the sardonic Mephistopheles, and includes several impressive magical stunts along the way.

Prospero, Duke of Milan, usurped and exiled by his own brother, holds sway over an enchanted island. He is comforted by his daughter Miranda and served by his spirit Ariel and his deformed slave Caliban. When Prospero raises a storm to wreck this perfidious brother and his confederates on the island, his long contemplated revenge at last seems within reach. - Shakespeare's Globe

When three witches tell Macbeth that he is destined to occupy the throne of Scotland, he and his wife choose to become the instruments of their fate and to kill the first man standing in their path, the virtuous King Duncan. But to maintain his position, Macbeth must keep on killing – first Banquo, his old comrade-in-arms; then, as the atmosphere of guilt and paranoia thickens, anyone who seems to threaten his tyrant’s crown.

Taming of the Shrew

September 2, 2013

Shakespeare’s most outrageous comedy, The Taming of the Shrew introduces one of theatre’s great screwball double-acts, a couple hell-bent on confusing and outwitting each other right up to the play’s equivocal and controversial conclusion.

The fat knight Sir John Falstaff imagines that Mistress Ford and Mistress Page are both taken with him and so, attracted as much by their husbands’ money as their personal charms, he decides to woo them both. But the women are up to the old lecher’s tricks and turn the tables on him with a series of humiliating assignations, midnight terrors and a very damp, extremely smelly laundry basket. Gutsy, colloquial and bustling with vivid characters, The Merry Wives of Windsor is a brilliantly constructed farce and the only comedy Shakespeare set in his native land. It is also the ancestor of English bourgeois comedy and gave birth to a tradition that reaches down to the modern TV sitcom. The production made merry with the relationship between the life of middle-class Elizabethan England and the late medieval period in which the play is set.

A live performance of the tragedy "Titus Andronicus" by William Shakespeare. Set in Roman times, the play deals with the bloody revenge of Roman general Titus Andronicus for the atrocities committed against his family by Tamora, the captive queen of the Goths, and her faction. Grotesquely violent and daringly experimental, Titus was the smash hit of Shakespeare's early career, and is written with a ghoulish energy he was never to repeat elsewhere.

The Tudor Court is locked in a power struggle between its nobles and the Machiavellian Cardinal Wolsey, the King's first minister and the country's most conspicuous symbol of Catholic power. Wolsey's ambition knows no bounds and when his chief ally, Queen Katherine, interferes in the King's romance with Ann Bullen, he brings ruin upon himself, the Queen and centuries of English obedience to Rome.

Prince Hal, son of King Henry IV, seems to be squandering his life away with the fat knight Sir John Falstaff and the whores, boozers and petty rogues of Eastcheap. But beside these scenes of glorious misrule gathers a nationwide rebellion led by the Duke of Northumberland and his charismatic son, Hotspur. The first installment of Shakespeare's gripping account of the rise of Hal from idle barfly to monarch-in-waiting combines compelling power politics with the hilarious antics of Falstaff, Shakespeare's greatest comic creation.

A performance of Shakespeare's Richard II broadcast live from the Globe Theatre, London.

Learning of his father’s death, Prince Hamlet comes home to find his uncle married to his mother and installed on the Danish throne. At night, the ghost of the old king demands that Hamlet avenge his ‘foul and most unnatural murder.’ Encompassing political intrigue and sexual obsession, philosophical reflection and violent action, tragic depth and wild humour, Hamlet is a colossus in the story of the English language and the fullest expression of Shakespeare’s genius.

Vincentio, Duke of Vienna, disgusted by the immorality in his city, announces his withdrawal from public life and leaves his deputy, the puritanical Angelo, in charge. Angelo, in his zeal for observing the letter of the law, begins a ruthless programme to stamp out sexual licence, in the course of which he condemns one Claudio to death. Surely Claudio’s virginal sister Isabella, a novice nun seeking mercy for her brother, could not awake the lust of this cold, censorious man?

Hotspur is dead and Prince Hal has proved his mettle on the battlefield, but King Henry IV lies dying and the rebels show no sign of surrendering. Even Sir John Falstaff is forced out of the taverns to raise a militia, but will his attachment to Hal be rewarded with promotion and the life of ease he feels sure he deserves? Henry IV Part 2 includes some of the greatest moments in Shakespeare: the deathbed scene of the old King, when Hal contemplates the crown; and Hal's devastating rejection of Falstaff himself. Roger Allam ('a Falstaff to treasure' - The Times) won the 2011 Best Actor Olivier Award for his performance in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2. 'Jamie Parker (Prince Hal) is 'terrific to watch' (London Evening Standard); he appeared in As You Like It at the Globe in 2009, and was also in The History Boys at the National Theatre, on Broadway and on film.

Cross-dressing, hijinks and bittersweet hilarity as Emma Rice directs Shakespeare’s timeless, soulful and irrepressible comedy. Synopsis Twins Sebastian and Viola are shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria, separated and believing each other to be dead. Beside herself with grief, Viola disguises herself as a boy and goes into the service of the Duke Orsino. The Duke, madly in love with the Countess Olivia, sends Viola to woo on his behalf... Olivia falls in love with the cross-dressed page while Viola falls deep and fast for Orsino. Meanwhile, mischievous servants play painful pranks at each other’s expense. Heady chaos ensues as griefs, loves and deep human confusions collide, but fear not! Sweet resolution wins the day as friends, twins and lovers are reunited.

A live performance of the play "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare. Set in ancient Rome, leading citizens Cassius and Marcus Brutus are alarmed that the power and authority Caesar is assuming may endanger the democracy of the Republic, so they conspire to assassinate the popular general. The ensuing battles and suicides extend the tragedy, establishing neither a clear-cut hero nor villain.

Following the death of Henry V, celebrated for having united England and subjugated France, divisions appear at the highest levels – first between those around the infant Henry VI, later between the two great factions in English politics: the houses of Lancaster and York. Only the young Lord Talbot, locked in combat with the bewitching and enigmatic Joan of Arc, seems capable of redeeming a divided and dishonoured kingdom.

Shakespeare’s masterpiece of the turbulence of war and the arts of peace tells the romantic story of Henry’s campaign to recapture the English possessions in France. But the ambitions of this charismatic king are challenged by a host of vivid characters caught up in the real horrors of war. Henry V, which opened the new Globe with the words ‘O for a muse of fire’, celebrates the power of language to summon into life courts, pubs, ships and battlefields within the ‘wooden O’ - and beyond.

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