Preview by Oli Burley
A VOYAGE of discovery is underway on the South Bank as Shakespeare’s
Globe prepares to wave off its favourite son.
Mark Rylance’s decision to make his tenth season as artistic
director his last has plunged 'the wooden O' back into unchartered
The search for his successor will undoubtedly give The
Season of the World and the Underworld, which begins
with The Tempest in May, a fascinating undercurrent.
For as the Globe re-evaluates its own essence, this year’s
schedule brings together four plays that explore what it is to
The relationship between body and soul – represented in
Greek culture by the underworld and world – is at best complex,
if not unfathomable.
In The Tempest, the bard delves deeply into the human
psyche by blending the supernatural with the very real, focusing
on the fate of Prospero's daughter, Miranda.
Rylance, himself, takes on the part of the shipwrecked Duke,
a role that unites him once again with Master of Play Tim Carroll
following their highly-acclaimed version of Twelfth Night
A castaway's guise is one that fits
Rylance well, some might suggest, arguing that in the last decade
his increasingly influential persona has become the Globe’s
raison d’etre. But in truth, he will leave an impressive
legacy in his wake.
Since the 1996 season, 750,000 people have paid just £5
to stand in the yard, while prices have been held for a second
year in a row after a 93% attendance rate in 2004.
This populist revival of the bard’s work has harmonised
innovative productions such as Cymbeline in 2001 with
spendidly-indulgent Elizabethan creations.
The mix continues in 2005 as modern stagings of Pericles
and The Storm (a new play by Peter Oswald) vye
for attention with original practice versions of The Tempest
and The Winter's Tale.
Look out for the latter, for under the direction of John Dove
- whose articulate Measure
for Measure was undoubtedly last season's highlight - the
jealousies of Leontes, King of Sicilia, should be compelling.
In such company, it is no wonder that Rylance, in his annual
letter to Globe patrons, writes: "I can’t imagine acting
Shakespeare anywhere else now, so I expect I will be back."
Let us hope that the man who has done so much to make Sam Wanamaker’s
dream become a reality has favourable winds.
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