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Emma Rice: Shakespeare’s Globe board ‘did not respect me’

Emma Rice at Shakespeare's Globe, London

Outgoing Shakespeare’s Globe artistic director Emma Rice has hit out at her treatment by the theatre’s board, in her first public statement since it was announced she would be leaving the London venue.

In October 2016, The Globe announced that Rice would be stepping down from her post, [1] with the theatre returning to more traditional practices following her two-year tenure that ends in April 2018.

Now, Rice has publicly addressed her departure from the theatre in detail for the first time, claiming the board “invented a set of rules that [she] did not sign up to and could not stand by”.

Her comments are included in an open letter to the new artistic director, for whom the Globe is currently recruiting. It is published in full on the Globe’s website. [2]

In the letter, she says: “I chose to leave because, as important and beloved as the Globe is to me, the board did not love and respect me back. It did not understand what I saw, what I felt and what I created with my actors, creative teams and the audience. They began to talk of a new set of rules that I did not sign up to and could not stand by. Nothing is worth giving away my artistic freedom for, it has been too hard fought for.”

The board [3] is chaired by Michael Bichard, with Iraj Isphani and Emma Stenning as deputy chairs.

Rice describes the Globe job as the “making” of her.

“Here, I have found my fight and my ‘right’, I have stood up for what I believe in and tried to do it with kindness, care and seriousness. However, in the wake of recent events, the Globe is wrestling with what, at its core, it now stands for. It is still in the process of deciding and clarifying what its fight and its ‘right’ are.

“I had to choose to leave because I choose myself and my work. Never think that my decision to step down in 2018 was simply about lights and sound, it was about personal trust and artistic freedom. You must make sure that your own freedom is assured.”

She concludes: “As I plan and dream of the theatre adventures I am yet to have, I hand you the baton with pride, celebration and sadness as I say goodbye to this glorious chapter of my life.”

Former artistic director Dominic Dromgoole has also published an open letter, who ran the Globe from 2006 to 2016, alongside Rice’s. [2]

Last month, the Globe opened applications for Rice’s successor [4], with the advertisement confirming it is “working to review the dynamics of the current executive and senior management leadership structure”.