Globe theatre seeks child actors

Shakespeare’s Globe is setting up a new youth company to specialise in Jacobean period drama.

Artistic director Dominic Dromgoole said he wanted to find child actors from across “as a broad a social spectrum as possible”.

The company of 12-16-year-olds will be recruited over the summer and trained during the winter.

The Globe Young Players’ first production will be The Malcontent in April 2014.

Dromgoole described John Marston’s satire, written around 1603, as “a dizzyingly funny, rude and wild play”.

It will be performed at the candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the Globe’s new indoor Jacobean-style theatre which is still under construction.

The formation of the Globe Young Players is in the tradition of the child actor companies of Shakespeare’s time.

“A lot of the plays of that period were written for specifically for boys and we wanted to explore that practice,” Dromgoole explained at Monday’s season announcement.

“It was when someone talked to me about Bugsy Malone that the idea lit up in my head,” he said, with a reference to Alan Parker’s 1976 musical gangster film which boasted a cast of child actors.

“The degree of the sophistication of those kids in that movie and their degree of acting ability is something we want to emulate.”

The Globe’s new youth company will consist of both boys and girls from diverse backgrounds.

“When were first thinking about this, we thought we could get in a group of boys from Eton or Dulwich or whatever, but that felt wrong somehow because the kid actors of that period would have been from all parts of the social spectrum – marked out by their ability and hunger to act.”

He added: “It’s becoming harder for children and young actors without means to get into drama school and I think that’s an enormous shame.”

Dromgoole said he had been impressed by recent performances by young stage actors, such as those in David Hare’s public school drama South Downs.

At last year’s Olivier Awards, an even younger group of actors made headlines when the four child stars of Matilda – aged between 10 and 12 – jointly shared the prize for best actress in a musical.

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse will open its doors in January 2014 with The Duchess of Malfi.