Sam Wanamaker Playhouse To Open Its Doors
A new indoor space next to Shakespeare's Globe theatre will be opened officially on Wednesday, fulfilling the dream of the theatre's founder - the late Sam Wanamaker.
The newly-built Jacobean theatre called the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse - a candlelit venue - will stage plays throughout the year, to complement the open-air Globe theatre on London's South Bank.
The playhouse will seat 340 people with two tiers of galleried seating and an historically-accurate pit seating area.
Zoe Wanamaker, actress and daughter of Sam Wanamaker: "He would have been thrilled and overjoyed. Another dream come true. Having this building opening now, some time after his death, is a completion of what he hoped for and dreamed of."
Artistic director Dominic Dromgoole said: "The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse offers us a unique opportunity to explore the theatre practice of Shakespeare's day and the theatrical context within which he worked.
"We hope that the Wanamaker Playhouse will afford as many insights, and prove as theatrically rejuvenating, as the Globe has proved over the last 16 years."
The inaugural production to be staged at the new venue is John Webster's The Duchess Of Malfi, starring Gemma Arterton.
It will be followed by a production of Francis Beaumont's The Knight of the Burning Pestle.
The first part of Sam Wanamaker's vision was realised in 1997 with the completion of Shakespeare's Globe.
The second phase was to build an amphitheatre next to the Globe that would replicate the indoor playhouses of the Jacobean era (1603-1625).
Unlike the Globe, it is not a replica of one particular theatre.
The layout has been based on drawings found in a book in the 1960s that would appear to be a design for an indoor playhouse and £7.5m has been spent fitting out its wooden interior.
Every performance will be lit by candlelight and in many cases the cast will carry their own candles, as they would have done 400 years ago.
The new venue will open with a production of the Duchess of Malfi, featuring Gemma Arterton, who spoke to Sky News about the use of candles during the play.
"It has been challenging," she said.
"That's a responsibility we don't usually have as actors so we were all a little bit nervous about it.
"But the challenges are always something that you should embrace and use, and think of ways of using them in your performance because it does make it look so sublime."
Editor at whatsonstage.com Theo Bosanquet said: "This first season is already selling out and it doesn't even have a Shakespeare production in there.
"There is a broad appetite, not just amongst academics and theatre aficionados, for more authentic experience in the theatre."
As well as William Shakespeare, Jacobean theatre is associated with playwrights such as Ben Jonson, John Marston and Thomas Dekker.
The official opening kicks off a season of early modern drama, opera and exclusive one-off performances and concerts, with tickets starting at £10 each.
American film director and actor Sam Wanamaker died in 1993. He is the father of British actress Zoe Wanamaker, who has starred in the Harry Potter series of films and the sitcom My Family.
:: Watch Sky News live on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.