Shakespeare's Globe celebrates 400th anniversary of King James Bible

Globe Theatre

Globe Theatre

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with its 2011 theatre season entitled 'The Word is God'. The season will be proceeded by a simple, unstaged cover-to-cover reading of The King James Bible recited between Palm Sunday, 17 April and Easter Monday, 25 April.  This unique event will take 69 hours spread over eight days to complete. Twenty actors, including many Globe regulars, will in four groups of five recite all 1189 chapters of King James Bible, with 788,280 words read aloud within the Globe auditorium.

Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director of the Globe Theatre, explains: "Four hundred years ago, a set of Church scholars sat in Stationer's Hall by St Paul's Cathedral and put the finishing touches to the King James Bible. Across the river, a set of playwrights, Shakespeare foremost amongst them, entertained a town. The playwrights listened to the clerics in church, the clerics sneaked in to listen to the plays in the theatre. Between the two of them they generated an energy, a fire and wit in the English language. We will honour that achievement this summer, starting with the recital of one of the greatest and most significant English texts - The Bible."

The anniversary will continue with the story of King James' creation of the Bible, as depicted by playwright Howard Brenton in Anne Boleyn. Winner of the 2011 Award for Best New Play, this thrilling story looks at the controversial legacy of Henry VIII's notorious second wife. Witty and flirtatious, Anne conspires with the exiled William Tyndale, to make England Protestant forever.

Starting 70 years after her death, the play examines King James' feat in uniting England's religious factions with a common Bible and the debt he owed to Anne.  Directed by John Dove, it returns to the Globe between 8 July and 21 August, following its 2010 sell-out run.

In August, the Globe will present The Globe Mysteries, with a new version by acclaimed poet and playwright Tony Harrison, who received the 2010 European Prize for Literature in Strasbourg on Saturday 12 March. Following his adaptation of The Mysteries at the National Theatre in 1985, Tony will revisit the Mystery Cycles, for the unique performance space of the Globe. The Globe Mysteries is directed by Deborah Bruce and will bring stories from the Bible to life whilst celebrating the spirit of street theatre and processional performance.

The King James Bible anniversary is echoed within Globe Education's series of events entitled The Heard Word: Pulpit Vs Playhouse. This includes the annual Sam Wanamaker Fellowship Lecture, where Professor Graham Holderness (University of Hertfordshire) will present Bible Bable: Shakespeare and the King James Version. Other events include a series of lectures presented in association with Southwark Cathedral, pre and post show discussions, study days and staged readings.

Other productions in the 2011 theatre season include Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well and Much Ado About Nothing, Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe and the world premiere of The God of Soho by Chris Hannan. The theatre season is complemented by two small-scale tours of Hamlet and As You Like It. Public booking for the theatre season is now open, tickets are available through the box office: 020 7401 9919 / 0871 297 0749 or online

The Bible, a recital of the King James Bible
Palm Sunday, 17 April
10am - 4pm
Genesis, Exodus
4.30pm - Midnight
Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Monday 18 April
6pm - Midnight
Joshua to 1 Samuel

Tuesday 19 April
6pm - Midnight
2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings

Wednesday 20 April
6pm - Midnight
1 Chronicles - Nehemiah

Maundy Thursday, 21 April
6pm - Midnight
Esther, Job, Psalms

Good Friday, 22 April
9am - 4pm
Proverbs to Lamentations
4.30pm - Midnight
Ezekiel to the end of the Old Testament

Easter Sunday, 24 April
9am - 12.30pm
Mathew, Mark
1pm - 5pm
Luke, John

Easter Monday, 25 April
10am - 2.30pm
Acts to 2 Corinthians
3pm - 7.30pm
Galatians to the end of the New Testament

For more information and bookings, see:

Tags: King James Bible, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

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