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Curtain up on Gdansk’s Shakespearean theatre

Italian architect Renato Rizzi has completed this Shakespearean theatre in Gdansk old town – featuring a unique retractable roof

The £16million project – supported by The Prince of Wales – is a modern reconstruction of an Elizabethan-style playhouse which once stood in the Polish city.

The brick-clad building features a fully retractable roof allowing both day-lit and artificially-lit performances.

The wooden interior – inspired by the coastal city’s Fencing School playhouse built in 1635 – features a modular layout providing both an Italian box stage and Elizabethan thrust stage.

Constructed by Flemish craftsman Jakob van Blocke, the Fencing School was based on an earlier 1610 theatre where English actors performed Shakespearean works during the playwright’s lifetime.

Supporters of the project – thought to have delivered the first dedicated theatre in Poland in almost forty years – include English actors Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Emma Thompson, Allan Rickman and Kenneth Branagh.

A public ceremony was held to celebrate the roof retracting on 23 April and a grand opening – featuring a Spanish fencing show and a performance of aerial acrobatics – is planned for 19 September.

The venue will host events focussing on European and Polish theatre and an International Shakespeare Theatre from 27 September until 5 October.

The project was inspired by Gdansk's historic Fencing School theatre

The project was inspired by Gdansk’s historic Fencing School theatre

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