Globe theatre to stage Shakespeare's Henry VIII 400 years after fire





A cannon fired from the attic as a special effect on June 29 1613 was meant to hit the Thames, but struck the Globe's thatched roof and destroyed the whole playhouse.

The theatre was rebuilt just one year later, but the Globe's artistic director Dominic Dromgoole will be hoping for better luck when the new production opens in May.

Mr Dromgoole said: ''Normally I would think that Henry VIII would be box office poison but we seem to be living in a period of Tudor gold dust at the moment. There is something strange and magical about that time for us at the moment.''

The Globe has also announced that, for the first time in its entire history, the theatre will be staging its first play by a woman.

Bedlam by Nell Leyshon is a fictional account of the oldest psychiatric hospital in Western Europe and is inspired by the gin epidemic of the 18th Century.

Before attitudes towards the mentally ill began to change, the public would visit the London hospital, which sold sticks for visitors to poke patients to get a reaction, for their own entertainment.

Asked about being the first known woman to stage a play at the Globe, Ms Leyshon said: ''I wanted to prove that women can do big stories. It's been said too often that women can't.''

Other new works will include Anne Boleyn by Howard Brenton, the creator of theatre's controversial Romans in Britain.

His new work dramatises the life and legacy of Henry VIII's second wife as a ''sexual predator and rogue Queen''.

The Globe, which has enjoyed its best box office year ever, will also stage new productions of Henry IV parts 1 and 2, ''masterpieces'' written ''when Shakespeare had a gear change and started writing in a different way''.



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