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Emma Rice: ‘I am only staying on to see through the next season of work’

Emma Rice at Shakespeare's Globe, London Emma Rice at Shakespeare's Globe, London. Photo: Sarah Lee
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Shakespeare’s Globe artistic director Emma Rice has spoken for the first time about her forced departure from the venue, which was announced last year.

She revealed that her principal reason for staying at the theatre for another year was to see through the forthcoming main stage season.

It will be Rice’s final summer season at the London theatre before she leaves in April 2018 after two years in the job.

Rice was speaking as she unveiled further details about the Summer of Love season – her last for the Globe’s main stage. She said it would have “all the bells and whistles” – including flowers growing out of the theatre’s thatched roof and improved sound and lighting rigs.

The Globe announced in October that Rice would stand down and the theatre return to ‘shared light’ practice, in which contemporary uses of lighting and sounds are not deployed.

Rice said this summer’s shows, which include Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing, had already been scheduled and actors had already signed up at the time the decision was made for her to stand down.

“The one question that everybody’s asked me over and over again is why did I stay? And the answer is so simple. I stayed because of this season.

“It’s going to be astonishing this year and there was no way that I was going to walk away from this season, these people and what we’re about to make in that amazing building,” she said.

Twelfth Night, directed by Rice, will feature Carley Bawden and George Ikediashi also known as Le Gateau Chocolat.

Other actors include Edward Hogg and Kirsty Bushell, who will star in Romeo and Juliet, directed by English National Opera artistic director Daniel Kramer.

Kramer praised Rice’s leadership of the theatre and said he would not have signed up to work at the Globe had she not been there.

“In my theatre work I thrive in the collision of popular and classical music and so this felt like the perfect moment to work with Emma,” he said.

The season also features Matthew Dunster’s Much Ado About Nothing, set in Mexico, and new play Boudica by Tristan Bernays, directed by Eleanor Rhode.

Following the summer season, Rice will stage more work in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse before she leaves in 2018.

She added: “The board’s decision was that the play conditions would change in April 2018, the beginning of next season, so I have free rein. But that doesn’t mean I will do anything different than I would do.”

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