Shakespeare's Globe mixes old with new in 2008

Thu May 1, 2008 10:46am EDT
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By Jane Lee

LONDON (Reuters) - Director Dominic Dromgoole shadows an actress as she steps gingerly onto the stage, surrounded by the cast of "King Lear" as preparations get under way for the 2008 season of William Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

Shakespeare enthusiasts come from around the world to London every year to see the bard's stories brought to life in a replica of the Globe, just 100 meters from its original Elizabethan site on the banks of the River Thames.

"You aim every year to improve your confidence and maturity and style and the intelligence of your plays," Dromgoole, the Globe's Artistic Director, told Reuters this week.

"Every year we learn more about how to present Shakespeare to an audience in an open, honest and direct way."

Shakespeare is 444 years old this year, but his plays are as popular as ever, with the theater attracting audiences of 300,000 each year, and seats for this season's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" already sold out.

"We like nothing more as human beings than to see other human beings suffering in extreme situations," Midsummer director Jonathan Munby said. "It means we can live it vicariously through them."

The Globe has had an increasingly modern bent in recent years and the 2008 season will include traditional Shakespearean favorites like "Timon of Athens" and "The Merry Wives of Windsor" alongside contemporary plays like "Frontline," which is set on the streets of London's Camden town.

"The vast majority are street people and street-wise, not princes and dukes and princesses. They're the disenfranchised of London," said Frontline writer Che Walker.   Continued...