Atkins takes on Shakespeare’s women

The new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe will host a candlelit performance of Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins in January.

The piece, which premiered at the Chichester Festival Theatre in August 2012, dramatises 19th century actress Ellen Terry’s essays on Shakespeare’s greatest female characters.

Ellen Terry was the most renowned female Shakespearean performer of the late-nineteenth century. Her posthumously published Four Lectures on Shakespeare focused heavily on the strength of the playwright’s female characters.

In one of the new venue’s opening performances, BAFTA award-winning actress Eileen Atkins will perform a dozen female parts from Shakespeare’s plays. The work will see Atkins bring a range of female roles to life, offering an insight into the different ways women were represented by Shakespeare and those who have interpreted his works.

Excerpts from Terry’s lectures will be woven into portrayals of tragic heroines such as Lady Macbeth and Desdemona. The piece will also offer insights into the life of a woman who not only performed but championed Shakespeare’s female characters.

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse is named after the American film director who was instrumental in establishing the modern recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe on its original site in Southwark, London.

The indoor theatre-space will offer candlelit performances of plays and concerts. Its first season opens in January with John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi which will run alongside Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins until mid-February.

Ellen Terry with Eileen Atkins will be performed on Monday and Sunday evenings between 12 January and 23 February.

By: Andy Adams

Photo courtesy of Shakespeare’s Globe.