Entertainment & Arts

Shakespeare's Cymbeline renamed for first Globe season under Emma Rice

Emma Rice Image copyright Sarah Lee
Image caption Emma Rice has announced her inaugural "Wonder Season" at Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare's Cymbeline is being "renamed and reclaimed" as part of Emma Rice's inaugural season at Shakespeare's Globe.

The play will be re-titled Imogen at the London open air theatre this autumn to highlight the role of Cymbeline's daughter.

Rice, who is taking over as Globe's first female artistic director, said she had initially baulked at the idea.

"When director Matthew Dunster first suggested it, I flushed red," she said.

"But there are no police and no rules. It makes a huge amount of sense.

"Imogen speaks three times more lines than Cymbeline so it really is her story. We are saying women have a strong narrative in these plays."

Announcing her inaugural "Wonder Season" on Monday, Rice said she wanted to make Shakespeare's Globe the "most accessible and inviting space" in London.

She will be theatre's third artistic director, taking over from Dominic Dromgoole when he leaves in April. Rice is currently joint artistic director of the Kneehigh theatre company, based in Cornwall.

"I've got a world of Shakespeare to discover. I've got so much to learn," she said.

"I want to remind us of what it's like to be told a story, and what it must have been like in Shakespeare's time to cheer and whoop and feel the spit of actors on our faces."

Image copyright Hannah Yates
Image caption A model of the 'magical forest' designed by Lez Brotherston

Rice will open her first season by directing A Midsummer Night's Dream in April. "It's a play that fits my aesthetic so perfectly," she told the BBC. "It's magical, it's about love and identity and it's got a guy who turns into a donkey."

The season will be accompanied by the installation of "a magical forest" of silver birch trees with metallic leaves which will "spill from the piazza onto London's Bankside".

"I'm hoping people will walk into the forest and they next thing they know they are watching a play," said Rice.

Caroline Byrne's production of The Taming of the Shrew, set in Ireland and inspired by the events of the Easter Rising, follows in May.

Rice said the play had obsessed her for many years. "This play taunts us women - Katherine is one of the best characters ever written for a woman - she's flawed, she's passionate, fierce and tricky - and then she's tamed.

"How can we tell this play for the 21st Century? I wanted a young exceptional woman to direct it. I've told her to be brave and fierce."

Other plays in the season include Macbeth, directed by Iqbal Khan, and Kneehigh's 946 The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo.

Jonathan Pryce will reprise his role as Shylock in Jonathan Munby's The Merchant of Venice which will run at the Liverpool Playhouse, and then tour before returning to the Globe in October.

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