four winter TALES

Previewing the winter season at The Globe, where four of Shakespeare's late, great plays will be performed by candlelight by Joe Campbell

the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse has been open for two winters now, and it looks as though the replica Jacobean theatre is really starting to find its feet as an exceptional performance space. The wooden frame of the theatre has given it a uniquely authentic sound and atmosphere, and the beautifully moody lighting is set to give a series of Shakespeare’s works a perfect winter aura.

According to Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole: “we have withheld one great experiment until we felt we knew the space, its potentials and its own artfulness, as fully as possible. That experiment is Shakespeare, and the glorious sequence of late plays, Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest, which he wrote late in his life.”

broken heart the globe winter tales shakespeare candlelight sam wanamaker london

The Broken Heart by candlelight earlier this year. Photograph by Marc Brenner.

Although the Globe’s reputation as a fantastic outdoor space is undeniable, Dromgoole goes on to explain why the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is an apt venue for the upcoming showcase.

“We know that they played in the outdoor theatres as well, but he certainly wrote them with the technology and the theatrical grammar of the new indoor spaces, most specifically the Blackfriars, in the front of his mind.”

The candlelit series starts with Pericles (19 Nov – 21 Apr). Having been forced to flee his kingdom and wander the world, the titular character and Prince of Tyre wins Princess Thaisa’s hand in marriage in a tournament held in another kingdom. Following a sea-storm, Thaisa dies during childbirth and her body is committed to the deep as a sacrifice to calm the storm. The grief-stricken Pericles takes comfort in his baby daughter, Marina, but decides to foster her with friends. Years later, Pericles is informed that Marina has died, but can it be true? Moreover, is it possible that Thaisa can be returned to life? Imbued with music, miracle and the constant presence of the sea, the spirit of fairy tale is never far from the surface of Pericles, the first of Shakespeare’s late romances.

“We have withheld one great experiment until we felt we knew the space

Next in the series is Cymbeline (2 Dec – 21 Apr). Imogen, daughter of King Cymbeline, has angered her father by marrying her lover Posthumus. In exile, Posthumus proclaims the beauty of his wife to the villainous Iachimo and lays a wager on her fidelity. Iachimo, though, will stop at nothing to prove that Imogen has been unfaithful – and Posthumus seems implacable in his revenge. Strange, erotic, moving and politically charged, Cymbeline is perhaps the most psychologically acute of Shakespeare’s great late romantic plays.

 the globe winter tales shakespeare candlelight sam wanamaker london

Sam Wanamaker, Shakespeare’s Globe founder, with a model of the Globe. Photograph by Brian Rybolt.

In the third play of the series, The Winter’s Tale (28 Jan – 22 Apr), Queen Hermoine is tried for adultery, found guilty and reported dead. When King Leontes discovers his wife’s innocence, he is inconsolable with guilt and grief, but time and providence draws redemption from his remorse. Keeping the human and divine in exquisite balance, The Winter’s Tale combines the exotic and magical with the realistic psychology of the tragedies.

Last in the series is arguably the most popular of the four late plays, The Tempest (17 Feb – 22 Apr). Thought by many to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone, The Tempest follows Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan who has been exiled by his brother Alonso. With a vengeful spirit Prospero conjures a fearsome storm to shipwreck Alonso and his confederates. Inspired by English colonial adventures and brilliantly conjuring up a magic and supernatural world, The Tempest is Shakespeare’s late masterpiece of forgiveness, generosity and enlightenment.

If you are looking for some entertainment this winter that is beautifully intimate in its presentation but brave and grandiose in its conceptualisation, then a trip to Shakespeare’s Globe to see one or all of this late, great romantic quartet will be just the ticket.

For more information and tickets, visit

pericles james garnon rehearsing the globe winter tales shakespeare candlelight sam wanamaker london

James Garnon as Pericles rehearsing with other cast members. Photograph by Marc Brenner.

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