Hampton Court Palace presents its first truly immersive theatre experience
It has been the stage for five centuries of drama: royal births, marriages and deaths, performed on a truly splendid set, designed by Cardinal Wolsey and improved upon by Sir Christopher Wren. For centuries a backdrop for the theatre of the royal court and in 2015 – its 500th anniversary year – Hampton Court Palace will debut a series of new, immersive ‘micro plays’, exploring the rich history of one of Britain’s most famous buildings.
Each day from Easter, a company of actors will ‘take to the stage’ in the State Apartments to perform ‘TimePlays’: a series of vignettes from the Palace’s past, uniquely set within the rooms where history actually happened. Without the defining limits of a stage, visitors will be plunged into some of the most significant episodes in the Hampton Court’s history, combining intimate moments with large scale ceremony and ritual.
Visitors will encounter a host of characters from across the palace’s 500 year history, from King Henry VIII composing a song for Anne Boleyn, to Oliver Cromwell investigating the escape of King Charles I from Hampton Court during the Civil War. The ‘TimePlays’ will also explore the artistic and creative life of the palace: with William Shakespeare rehearsing a play in the Great Hall, whilst performances of some of the great rituals of the court will showcase a building designed for ceremony and display.
Specially commissioned by independent charity Historic Royal Palaces, the ‘TimePlays’ are produced by award-winning playwright Elizabeth Kuti, acclaimed director Pia Furtado, and a company of 15 actors. They will build upon the successes of Hampton Court’s popular resident costumed actors, performing a more diverse mixture of large, set pieces moments intermingled with more intimate monologues and dialogues. It is the first time Historic Royal Palaces has engaged professional scriptwriters and auditioned actors to produce a daily offer for the day visitor.
Deborah Shaw, formerly Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Head of Creative Programming for Historic Royal Palaces, explains:
‘Historic Royal Palaces has a long history of being at the forefront of innovative storytelling as one of the first organisations to offer live interpretation as part of the daily offer for visitors. Our new TimePlays will deepen this experience further, sending our visitors on the kind of emotional journeys usually reserved for theatre-goers... We have chosen to offer a more unexpected and creatively thrilling live performance we hope visitors will embrace.’
Reviews for Elizabeth Kuti’s previous work:
‘Entrancing… I found myself totally immersed in these shimmering tales from the depths of time and human experience’. The Guardian
It is as though Kuti is looking out across the landscape of the human heart – and can see with startling clarity’. Daily Telegraph
A co-production between Historic Royal Palaces and Past Pleasures Ltd.
Notes to editors
For more information and images, please contact Katrina Harper in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office: firstname.lastname@example.org/ 0203 166 6307.
Daily from April 3rd to 31st August. Included in the ticket price. Timetables change daily – see the Daily Programme (free from the Ticket Office) for details of the day’s micro plays, which you can seek out or simply encounter as you explore the Palace.
Historic Royal Palaces is the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, the Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. These palaces are owned by The Queen on behalf of the nation, and we manage them for the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (with the exception of Hillsborough Castle). Registered charity number 1068852. For more information, visit hrp.org.uk