Norwich Cathedral Shakespeare Festival returns
The words of William Shakespeare will echo around Norwich Cathedral’s Cloister once again as the open-air Shakespeare Festival returns for summer 2021.
After last year’s festival was postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Cathedral is looking forward to welcoming back The Lord Chamberlain’s Men this July to perform a powerful production of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.
Macbeth will take to the stage in the historic surrounds on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 July and tickets go on sale via the Cathedral website on Tuesday 6 April.
The Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Jane Hedges, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming back The Lord Chamberlain’s Men this summer.
“After an extremely challenging year in which so many events unfortunately had to be cancelled, it is wonderful now to be able to look forward to the return of our annual celebration of Shakespeare in our beautiful Cloister.
“The Shakespeare Festival is always a summer highlight at the Cathedral and The Lord Chamberlain’s Men always put on a brilliant show - we cannot wait to see what is in store with their latest production.”
Keeping people safe continues to be the number one priority at Norwich Cathedral and the Cathedral has achieved Visit England and Visit Britain’s official We’re Good To Go mark, which highlights Covid-secure venues.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men’s production is also registered as See It Safely compliant, meaning the production strictly adheres to all government and industry Covid safety guidance and every effort is being made to protect audiences and company members at all times.
Peter Stickney, TLCM’s Artistic Director, said audiences could expect a “thrill-ride from start to finish” with their latest production.
He said: “I am incredibly excited to be amongst the first in the country to bring live theatre back to audiences. We have been lucky enough to make and enjoy theatre in special outdoor settings for many years and I hope those looking to once again experience top-quality theatre will join us to enjoy this unique theatrical experience.”
He added: “This year we will be running the production without an interval. This will aid our Covid security planning but happily suits the play down to the ground. We are well practised in using challenges as artistic opportunity and this is a perfect chance to do just that.
“One of Shakespeare’s shortest plays, this intense and passionate story really benefits from this treatment. Expect sword fights, stunning poetry, smoke, fire and drums as this epic play gets our usual epic treatment; I can’t wait for our audience, those new to us and those we are welcoming back, to see it.”
A gripping tale of supernatural magic, vaulting ambition and the perils of an insatiable lust for power, Macbeth puts the spotlight on one of Shakespeare’s most chilling couples.
Emerging victorious and decorated in war, Macbeth receives a thrilling pronouncement from three weird sisters who prophesy he will one day be King of Scotland. Overcome by ambition and driven on by his powerful wife, Macbeth sets in motion a terrible sequence of events from which there is no turning back.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men are a modern day incarnation of the Bard’s own travelling troupe of players, and they will be performing Macbeth just as it would have been played out in Shakespeare’s day - with an all-male cast, full Elizabethan costumes and traditional music and dance.
The company have spent more than 15 years entertaining audiences across the country and beyond, and at Norwich Cathedral they have previously performed The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The Norwich Cathedral shows are always something of a homecoming for Peter Stickney as he grew up nearby in Saxlingham Nethergate, went to Long Stratton High and Hewett School, and first developed his love of theatre while acting in high school shows.
He said there was a real magic to watching Shakespeare performed in the open air.
“Experiencing Shakespeare’s productions outside, where he first saw them, is a truly special thing.
“As the light fades and the moon shines bright, it is thrilling to think that we are looking at the same moon Shakespeare did whilst we listen to the words he wrote more than 400 years ago.
“It is exhilarating to think that the experience of gathering together, something we have been deprived of for so long now, to encounter and be entertained by his work is something people have been doing for more than four centuries.
“Our need for and love of shared experiences and stories, specifically, Shakespeare’s stories remain undimmed.
“Being a part of Shakespeare’s legacy, we look to honour his plays presenting them as we do and, simply, provide people with an entertaining and magical evening.”
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men will perform Macbeth in Norwich Cathedral’s Cloister on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 July 2021 at 7pm. On both nights, doors will open at 6pm for people to enjoy the beautiful surrounds of the Cloister before the show.
Tickets cost £20. Concessions (over 60s, NUS and under 16s) £18. To book, visit cathedral.org.uk/shakespeare
Seating is provided but unreserved and the performance will run straight through with no interval.
Pictured: the Shakespeare festival in 2019. Picture by Bill Smith