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Overview

The Flagship Project in the Development of an International Center for Shakespeare Performance and Studies in Lenox, Massachusetts.

“A theatre is more than a Theatre. It is a place for debate and exchange. It is a place for education. It is a place for community. At its core is humanity and understanding. Its contribution is creativity.”
–Tina Packer, Founding Artistic Director
Shakespeare & Company

Bringing the past to new life, Shakespeare & Company is working with an international team of architects, master craftspeople, archaeologists, and scholars to create the world’s only historically accurate reconstruction of the Elizabethan-era Rose Playhouse, Shakespeare’s first theatre.

The Rose reconstruction, set in the midst of an arts and humanities-based Rose Village center, is envisioned by Shakespeare & Company Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer as the jewel in the crown of an international center for Shakespeare performance and studies, located on a beautiful rural campus in western Massachusetts.

“As an educational and training tool, a living work of art, and a cultural destination, it is priceless,” says Tina Packer of the project. The Rose will be the most meticulously researched and authentically constructed Tudor playhouse, edging out the London Globe because of the information yielded by the stunning discovery of the footprint of the original 16th century Rose beneath a London building site in 1989.

The Rose Playhouse U.S.A. project at Shakespeare & Company began in 2000. Phase One research has been completed. The research report, created by the British/American design team led by architect Jon Greenfield and master builder Peter McCurdy, is an important exercise comparing for the first time extant historical documents connected to the original Rose and its surrounding environment, and the extensive archaeological evidence taken from the excavation site and analyzed by the Museum of London Archaeology Service during more than a decade.

The campaign to build the Rose Playhouse and the Rose Village will be led by American actor Dustin Hoffman, Packer, and a committee of influential artists, scholars, and business leaders. The project has already attracted significant media interest and support. A congressionally directed seed grant of one million dollars was awarded to Shakespeare & Company in 2002 to move the development forward. Senior statesman Edward M. Kennedy, Senator John F. Kerry, and congressman John Olver were key in helping Shakespeare & Company obtain this important launch funding.

Important aspects of the Rose project are:

The Rose Playhouse will be constructed as accurately as possible based on the dimensions of the original Rose, using traditional building materials, fashioned with traditional English building techniques. The Rose will be surrounded by the Rose Village, incorporating class and rehearsal rooms, exhibition spaces, cafes, and artisans’ shops.

The Rose Playhouse will have an audience capacity of about 720 people. Two hundred of these will be “groundlings,” who traditionally stood throughout the performance.

Performance, education, and training programs will be an integral part of the Rose. While the playhouse will be operational in the late spring, summer, and early fall, the Rose Village center, shops, and exhibition programs will operate year-round.

The Rose Footprint Theatre, constructed near the proposed Rose site, is a transitional stage being utilized by summer productions of the Shakespeare & Company training and education programs. It approximates the dimensions of the Rose first level gallery, stage, and yard.

The Rose Playhouse U.S.A. is a public/private cultural economic development project that will significantly benefit the cultural tourism, arts, and educational economies of western Massachusetts.