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THEATRES USE DIFFERENT READINGS OF SHAKESPEARE

LETTERS

The review of Ian Ritchie's Courtyard Theatre (AJ 07.09.06) states that its footprint 'echoes that of the Rose of Kingston in London'.

A pair of same-scale drawings of the two suggests that they do not match in either form or scale.

This is more than academic. The Rose of Kingston opens in April 2008, under the direction of Peter Hall. This modern theatre is modelled in plan on the Rose of 1587. It will have a similar capacity to the Courtyard.

Thus there are two groups, each with their artistic directors and their architects. Both claim that their contemporary theatres are of a pattern 'that Shakespeare would recognise'.

Michael Boyd and his colleagues at the RSC like the square stage, as depicted in the Swan drawing of 1596 and in the building contract for The Fortune theatre of 1599. Peter Hall, supported by Trevor Nunn, prefers the shallow thrust of the Rose theatre, which scholars (as well as Hall), now suggest was more likely to be the form of stage for Shakespeare's Globe of 1599, rather than the square stage installed in Wanamaker's 1995 Globe Theatre.

Both Shakespeare and fine architecture are for all times.

Architects today would be unwise to assume a consensus on Shakespearian stage form. There exist two very different approaches. Each have their advocates and each have different resonances today.

Iain Mackintosh, chairman emeritus, Theatre Projects Consultants

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