Building work begins in York for Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre

Preparations are in full swing for a glorious Summer of Shakespeare in York, as building work commences on the award-winning SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE at the foot of historic Clifford’s Tower, which will once again be home to four outstanding productions of Shakespeare’s most popular plays this summer.

The pop-up Shakespearean theatre is constructed using state-of-the-art scaffolding technology, corrugated iron and timber.   Inspired by the Rose Theatre of 1587 in London’s Bankside, which was built from timber, with a lath and plaster exterior and thatch roof, SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE will house an audience of 900, with 560 seated in three covered tiers around an open-roofed courtyard with standing room for 340 ‘groundlings’.

Constructed by Acorn Events, the structure uses over 30,000 cubic meters of scaffolding tubes, 1400 square meters of metal cladding and 22,000 screws.  The total weight of the 37m wide structure is approximately 60 tonnes, and is equivalent in height to three double-decker buses. Last year the theatre took 30 people three weeks to build, with two cranes, six cherry-pickers and four forklift trucks, after sixty 45ft long articulated lorries delivered all materials to site. The roof was pre-fabricated at Acorn’s premises due to its complexity and size, and has been craned into place on site. Work is scheduled to finish at the end of the second week of June.

As before, the theatre will be located within a Shakespearean village, bringing an authentic Elizabethan ambience and theatricality to the event, and will feature:

  • ‘wagon’ performances of Elizabethan-style entertainment, including comic mini-plays and speeches
  • the best Yorkshire food and drinks, housed in the oak-framed and reed-thatched Bear Arms pub
  • an Elizabethan garden created by Yorkshire garden designer Sally Tierney, with ornate box-edged beds of roses, cottage flowers and herbs as well as a water fountain. Mrs Tierney is the winner of a Silver-Gilt medal at the Royal Horticultural Society’s renowned Chelsea Flower Show, and created the Elizabethan garden for SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE in York last year to great acclaim.
  • tables and benches around the village, enabling visitors to enjoy the historic atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the company of SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE – 75 actors, 22 creatives, 12 musicians and 41 crew in total – continue working six days a week at the huge tented rehearsal village at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet York.

The 2100 square metre rehearsal village is made up of seven tents in total: the two biggest acting as the main performance spaces, able to accommodate areas bigger than the eventual stage, with other tents being used as stage management offices, a green room (holding up to 70 people at one time), wardrobe spaces and break out rooms for dance, fight and vocal calls.

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, who join as a sponsor for 2019, are also hosting an exhibition of costumes and props from SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE.  The items from the 2018 plays of Richard III and Romeo and Juliet can be viewed all summer in Unit -29 at the South Atrium.

Grand Central Rail, an established train operator on the East Coast line linking York to London, returns in 2019 as title sponsor of SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE in York.  Other returning sponsors are Fenwick luxury department store; the Grand Hotel and Spa, York’s only five star hotel; and Yorkshire’s daily national newspaper, The Yorkshire Post, back on board as official media partner.

The York season of SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE will run from Tuesday 25 June – Sunday 1 September 2019, with four new productions: Hamlet, Henry V, The Tempest and Twelfth Night.

Originator of the project and CEO of international theatre company, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, James Cundall MBE, said “It is immensely exciting to see our theatre take on its unique shape, and as with last year’s build, I am amazed at the speed with which it pops-up!  It is particularly thrilling for our cast and crew to see what will be their home until September, and for them to get a sense of the theatre’s intimacy in spite of its huge size.”  

The previously announced cast for York includes Maggie Bain (Netflix’s Black Mirror, The End of the F***ing World, film Dark Sense and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe) as ‘Henry V’; ITV’s Victoria star David Oakes as ‘Hamlet’; Sam Callis (Game of Thrones, The Bill) as ‘Prospero’ in The Tempest; and returning from last year’s SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATREOlivia Onyehara as ‘Viola’, Mark Holgate as ‘Orsino’, and Leandra Ashton as ‘Olivia’ in Twelfth Night.