Shakespeare’s Globe has appointed Emma Rice to be its new Artistic Director. She is the third person, and the first woman, to assume the role since it was first created in 1995. She will take over from Dominic Dromgoole, the current Artistic Director, in April 2016 once the ‘Globe-to-Globe Hamlet Tour’ finishes its two-year journey.
Emma is currently the joint Artistic Director of Kneehigh, a Cornwall-based touring theatre company, where she has worked since 1994. For Kneehigh she has adapted and directed numerous productions attracting critical and popular acclaim, including The Red Shoes (TMA Theatre Award for Best Director) and The Bacchae (2005 TMA Theatre Award for Best Touring Production), as well as several collaborations with other companies, such as Cymbeline (in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company).
Emma says: “I am delighted and honoured to be taking over the artistic direction of Shakespeare’s Globe. Open to the elements, and to its audience, this unique and important space demands theatre that brims with passion, joy and humanity. With Kneehigh and Cornwall carried safely in my heart, I will take custody of this incredible organization with an open heart, fierce passion and excited mind.”
She has big shoes to fill. Acclaimed Shakespearean Mark Rylance was appointed the first Artistic Director of the Globe in 1995 and cemented the theatre’s place as the definitive home of the Bard in Britain. His successor, Dominic Dromgoole, appointed in 2006, worked to broaden its appeal by adding a number of non-Shakespeare plays to each season and cultivating relationships with exciting foreign companies such as the Tang Shu-wing Theatre Studio and the Isango Ensemble.
Yet the Globe is confident Emma is the person to take the theatre forward. Emma Stenning and Jenny Topper, trustees and joint chairs of the appointment panel, said: “Throughout our search, we have been determined to appoint an artist of vision, someone who will approach the Globe’s continued exploration of Shakespeare and his contemporaries in performance with distinct clarity, who will sustain the tradition of presenting contemporary writers whose work will echo and reflect the world of Shakespeare, and who will be particularly inspired by the architecture of our two theatres. In Emma Rice, we have found that artist. She is a director at the top of her game, a theatre maker who revels in the presence of the audience, and one for whom the Globe is clearly a source of inspiration and passion.”
Emma’s peers are also fulsome in their praise. Ben Crystal, founder of Shakespeare ensemble Passion in Practice, says: “I think a left-field choice is a good thing: the building is entering into its third regime, so a very different kind of leading energy is fundamental. The buzz online and around the world has been very positive and welcoming, and personally I’m thrilled. Given her reputation for ensemble, actor-driven work, I see a tremendously exciting future for Shakespeare’s London home-from-home.”