Globe 2021: “Pomp, pageantry, politics & power”


The day is finally here – it seems like we’ve been made to wait an inordinately long time for this announcement, but it was definitely worth it as far as I’m concerned. In the words of Artistic Director, Michelle Terry: “The world beyond may be uncertain, but these plays are sure to guide us through the summer days with hope, strength, and purpose – and of course with people. Above all else there will be people. People being together, with other people. Summer Season 2022 at Shakespeare’s Globe. It’s going to be epic.” Quite.

Without further ado (ahem), let’s see what we’re in for, shall we?

  • Much Ado About Nothing, Globe Theatre (22 April – 23 October 2022)
  • Julius Caesar, Globe Theatre & tour (3 May – 10 September 2022)
  • Henry VIII, Globe Theatre (19 May – 21 October 2022)
  • King Lear, Globe Theatre (10 June – 24 July 2022)
  • The Tempest, Globe Theatre (22 July – 22 October 2022)
  • Joan, Globe Theatre (25 August – 22 October 2022)

This will be preceded by the annual ‘Playing Shakespeare‘ production, which sees Sarah Frankcom directing Macbeth, and joined later in the summer by a couple of fun family events: Midsummer Mechanicals (28 July – 21 August 2022) in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and a CBeebies version of As You Like It in the Globe Theatre (9 -10 August 2022). ‘Telling Tales‘ will also make a comeback in the Easter half term. Also returning is ‘Read Not Dead‘ (yay!), the midnight matinées and the fascinating Anti-Racist Shakespeare webinar series (it’s not what some of you might think – I’d advise attending one before forming an opinion on its worth).

Image credit: Shakespeare’s Globe

Wow. Now that’s more like it! I’d been a bit worried over the past couple of seasons that we wouldn’t get any deep dives into the canon, or that we’d get caught in a cycle of re-doing the same ‘mainstream’ plays over and over and over again. Not that this is a deep dive, by any stretch, but it does at least feature a very rarely performed play in Henry VIII, and the political nature of the choices is a real thrill. I’m a fan, so I can watch different versions of the same Shakespeare plays lots of times, but when you’re trying to write about it you really do need a bit of variety; some picks over the past few years have been totally understandable, given the political climate, but there was still room for some lateral thinking and less obvious picks to get the same message across.

King Lear‘s inclusion was unexpectedly announced just before Christmas, with the phenomenal Kathryn Hunter in the titular role. I’ve previously seen her as Timon in the RSC’s most recent Timon of Athens, and now I’m even more annoyed with myself for not seeing Simon Russell Beale as Timon prior to seeing him as Lear at the National – this is ultimate nerd level Shakespeare stuff. As is being intrigued at Cordelia & the Fool being played by the same actor – in this case, Michelle Terry. I can see her doing well in these roles, though I’d have quite liked her to get stuck into Mark Antony in Julius Caesar (her Hotspur in Henry IV, part 1 in 2019 was *chef’s kiss*) had it not been the touring production. I didn’t know if I’d want to see another King Lear after the Ian McKellen-led version at Chichester, but given that this is finally my chance to see a woman in the lead role I can’t really say no, can I?

Image credit: Shakespeare’s Globe

Though I have seen the play itself a few times, I’ve never seen a full production of Julius Caesar at Shakespeare’s Globe – and I think this is exactly the right time to bring it back. The Globe Theatre is the obvious choice for it, in many ways, given the citizen uprisings and addresses to the crowd, though I could see a modern-dress production in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse working just as well (à la Measure for Measure this winter). I’m still gutted that I missed out on the Trumpian version at Shakespeare in the Park over in New York, and I think a Johnsonian one would work just as well. God, I’d love it if it had the effect the Earl of Essex was going for when he commissioned a performance of Richard II back in 1601 – I could easily march on Westminster from Bankside.

Interesting to see how Much Ado About Nothing fits into this block; presumably this is to take the place of the production that was due to run in 2020, in a very different kind of programme of events (it will now be directed by Lucy Bailey). Typically it will come hot on the heels of a new RSC production (directed by Roy Alexander Weise), but at least there’s now a bit more distance between this and Matthew Dunster’s masterpiece in 2017 – though this is another play I’d be interested in seeing in a more intimate setting, just to see what else can be found in the text.

Image credit: Shakespeare’s Globe

The Tempest is still not my favourite Shakespeare play (I feel like this has become my catchphrase), but I’m ever willing to give it a chance. This year it will be directed by Sean Holmes, which fills me with a bit more hope as I’ve enjoyed a lot of his previous work – I’ll also be interested to follow the Globe Ensemble through their journey from Hamlet this winter, to Much Ado, and then The Tempest, as it is quite a range of work.

NEW WRITING KLAXON. As the RSC are letting me down by not doing the full Henry VI trilogy (they’re just doing parts 2 & 3 – did I miss part 1 somewhere along the way?!), I’m glad that there’s somewhere I can get my Joan of Arc fix in 2022! With the one-word title (Joan), it’s hard not to immediately think back to Emilia and hope that some more fires will get started by this play… Written by Charlie Josephine, I’m excited to see how this shines a light on the Maid of Orléans’ story – especially given their brilliant performance in last summer’s Metamorphoses.

And finally. One I can tick off my Shakespeare list. Hannah Khalil joins the list of collaborators as she brings a female perspective to Fletcher & Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. Currently I’ve only seen a TSMGO version of this play (which was, of course, excellent – no pressure), and I’ve hankered for a stage version for pretty much as long as I’ve been a theatre & Shakespeare fan; one of my reading resolutions for the year was to finally read all the Wolf Hall books, so I’m going to go ahead and call that a premonition. There was a lot of talk about Henry VIII powers (and mistresses) last year, so it was probably an inevitability that someone would take it on. Just go easy on the cannons, folks – we don’t want a repeat of 1613.

Image credit: Shakespeare’s Globe

That has really put a spring in my step. The kind of material I like, a play I can tick off my list, 83% female directors (five out of the six main plays, basically), and some interesting talking points poised & ready to go. I think I can hear my second home calling me…

The summer season runs from 22 April – 23 October 2022. Tickets will be available online or from the box office – priority booking opens 3 February 2022, public booking opens 11 February 2022.

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