Shakespeare festival returns to Norwich Cathedral
Shakespeare’s timeless tale of true love will be played out in the stunning surrounds of Norwich Cathedral’s Cloister this summer as Romeo and Juliet takes centre stage.
Romeo and Juliet will be performed by The Lord Chamberlain’s Men (TLCM) on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 July 2023 for the annual open-air Shakespeare Festival which is always a summer highlight at the Cathedral.
Audiences will be transported to the streets of Verona for the tale of the star-crossed lovers and their warring Capulet and Montague families. In keeping with the romance of the play, tickets have gone on sale on the eve of St Valentine’s Day via the Norwich Cathedral website cathedral.org.uk
It is a welcome return for The Lord Chamberlain’s Men who last year wowed audiences at the Cathedral with sold-out performances of the classic comedy As You Like It.
The new Dean of Norwich, the Very Revd Dr Andrew Braddock, said: “It is wonderful to hear how much people enjoy coming to Norwich Cathedral’s Shakespeare Festival every year.
“The Cathedral’s beautiful Cloister is the perfect place to enjoy watching an open-air performance of Shakespeare and I’m looking forward to joining the audience for this summer’s production of Romeo and Juliet.”
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men are a modern-day incarnation of the Bard’s own travelling troupe of players, and they will be performing Romeo and Juliet 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 nearly 20 years entertaining audiences across the country and beyond, and at Norwich Cathedral they have previously performed As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth and also a previous production of Romeo and Juliet.
The Norwich Cathedral shows are always something of a homecoming for TLCM’s artistic director 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 he was particularly looking forward to presenting a new production of Romeo and Juliet this year as it was this play that first brought him to join TLCM 16 years ago.
He said: “This incredible play is where my journey with The Lord Chamberlain’s Men first began. I performed in Romeo and Juliet with the company in 2007 and fell in love with the play, the company and everything about the tour straight away. The incredible locations we played at (and still do), the audiences and all the people we met, the amazing experience of performing outside and that stunning story with Shakespeare’s magical poetry! I am so excited to return to this story now; to re-examine this play and bring it to fresh and exciting life.”
He said TLCM’s shows aimed to offer a unique experience for audiences and also aimed to make Shakespeare accessible for all.
“Sitting under the same stars that Shakespeare did and seeing his plays performed as he first saw them – with an all-male cast, in the open air and with Elizabethan costume, music and dance – is intoxicating. The productions are clear, bold and accessible without being dumbed down in anyway. I strongly believe that seeing one of Shakespeare’s plays shouldn’t be an “elite sport.” If you’ve ever thought that Shakespeare isn’t for you, give one of our shows a try and hopefully we will change your mind!”
He added that this year’s production of Romeo and Juliet also paid tribute to a special Shakespeare anniversary – the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio which was the first printed edition of the collected plays of Shakespeare including Romeo and Juliet. Without the publication of this extraordinary collection many of Shakespeare’s greatest plays may have been lost to time.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men will perform Romeo and Juliet in Norwich Cathedral’s Cloister on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 July 2023 at 7pm.
Tickets cost £22 plus booking fee. To book, visit https://cathedral.org.uk/shakespeare/
Seating is provided but unreserved. On both nights, doors will open at 6pm for people to enjoy the beautiful surrounds of the Cloister before the show.
Photo by Bill Smith
Helen Baldry, 13/02/2023