Arts & Culture

Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre Returns: this time to Blenheim Palace

By Lily Rodgers at

There are plenty of ‘pop-ups’ in today’s world; involving everything from craft beer to designer sunglasses. From July 8, however, there will be Europe’s first ever pop-up Shakespearean Theatre arriving at Blenheim Palace for a nine-week season. The event began in York in 2018 where CEO of Blenheim Dominic Hare first saw it and decided it had to be a summer fixture at Blenheim. “I was absolutely blown away, not only by the quality of the whole event, even down to the vintage carts and wagons, but by the extraordinary experience of seeing Shakespeare performed in such an intimate setting,” he said.

The pop-up is no small feat. It involves a 13-sided Elizabethan-style playhouse- accommodating an audience of 900 people. Complete with an Elizabethan village, visitors and audience members can wholly immerse themselves in the world of Shakespeare as if it were the 16th Century. The plays have been selected from across the genres, offering something for everyone and will be performed in repertory by two companies of actors based at each location. The Blenheim Palace company will be reviving the productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth, as performed in York last year, as well as creating exciting new productions of Romeo and Juliet and Richard III.

Having directed Macbeth in York last year, Damian Cruden will serve as overall artistic director for both companies, taking on the addition of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre debut. Originator of the project and CEO of international theatre company, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, James Cundall MBE said: “We are thrilled that Damian Cruden is once again joining us at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre. With him we are delighted to have found a first- class team of directors and designers for our eight productions.”

Tom Wright will be Associate Director for Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Juliet Forster, who was the original director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last year, will turn her skills to directing Romeo & Juliet this year. Amy Yardley will be associate scenic designer for both Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and scenic designer for Romeo & Juliet. Sarah Mercade will be costume designer for MacbethA Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo & Juliet. Lucy Pitman-Wallace will direct Richard III, which will have scenic and costume design by Adam Nee.

Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre should feel at home within the longstanding grounds of Blenheim, bringing an authentic Elizabethan ambience and theatricality to the local area.  The season will last nine weeks, running from July 8 until September 8 and is not to be missed.