RICHARD III had a very long stay under a Leicester car park before sentenced to permanent residency at the city's cathedral. Now, Richard is to spend next summer back on a car park site beside the Eye of York.

More precisely, York's favourite, much maligned king will be appearing in the first season of plays at Lunchbox Theatrical Productions' new outdoor adventure, Shakespeare's Rose Theatre, where Richard III, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth and Romeo And Juliet will be staged between June 25 and September 2.

The ideal Shakespeare balance of a history, a comedy, a tragedy and a tragic love story and a history will be performed at Europe’s first ever Shakespearean pop-up theatre with two performances a day over the ten weeks adding up to 140 in total in York.

The yet-to-be announced casting director will select two repertory companies of 17. One will work with Olivier Award-winning West End director Lindsay Posner on Romeo And Juliet and Richard III in London before heading north for the tech week. The other will be rehearsing Macbeth in York with Olivier Award-winning Theatre Royal artistic director Damian Cruden and A Midsummer Night's Dream with associate director Juliet Forster.

Scotsman Cruden last directed Macbeth, Shakespeare’s Scottish play, in 2005 in a Theatre Royal production set in feudal Japan; Forster previously has directed Midsummer in youth productions in Wolverhampton and an African dance version by Kokuma.

York Press:

York Theatre Royal artistic director Damian Cruden, who will direct Macbeth

Posner will be working on a York production for the first time. “When I was approached by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, it felt very exciting to be involved in the first pop-up Shakespeare theatre in Britain and Europe. The idea of doing it with a rep company, developing a shorthand with the actors, was very appealing too," he says.

"I was clear that I particularly wanted to direct Romeo And Juliet and Richard III was suggested to me for my other production. First and foremost, Romeo And Juliet is a great story; it's funny but it's dark; it's about mortality, death and dysfunctional family relations.

"For young people, it's so relevant in that deals with parent and child relationships; that feeling of being in love; infatuation; and first sexual experiences, and it does all that in a very complex way, while also dealing with violence in an urban environment. Anyone who has seen violence erupt in gangs will relate to it, and in the context of a Rose Theatre experience, that can be exciting, if not disturbing."

Richard III may be returning home to his beloved York, but it is important to remember, this is Shakespeare's twisted Richard III, not the ruler of the North that the Richard III Society defends to the hilt. "In a way, one needs to see it in a wider, rather than an historical, context," says Posner.

"Shakespeare wrote something universal, with someone you can relate to, particularly in this century and the last one: especially how he portrayed Richard as a psychopath and a tyrant in a way that was both entertaining and terrifying, which was amazingly prescient. I want the audience to sense that topicality without being too heavy-handed with it."

York Press:

York Theatre Royal associate director Juliet Forster, who will direct A Midsummer Night's Dream

Posner will start his eight weeks of rehearsals with his repertory cast in May, with the company playing parts in both plays. "There's every possibility of getting a high-calibre cast," he says. "They're great parts to play; the production is not a long run by comparison with the Royal Shakespeare Company; and I'll use my experience and contacts in order to cast as well as possible. As I'll be rehearsing in London, I think that will help too."

Whereas Posner will have two plays under his control, the York Theatre Royal duo of Damian Cruden and Juliet Forster will be directing the northern company of 17 actors in one each. "But it won't be tricky to make it work as a pairing; there are lots of interesting ways to go from working on one play to another with the same cast members," says Cruden.

"We'll have two rehearsal rooms running and we'll have the Theatre Royal to run over the summer too, and we're still working on what the Theatre Royal will be offering over the summer, but we see Shakespeare's Rose Theatre as something that will add to the rich and diverse culture in York in the summer months."

Cruden is looking forward to staging Macbeth for a second time. "The pitfall you have to avoid is trying to put a spin on it. When I've seen it done with contemporary settings, I've never been satisfied by them. Just let it be. Get the casting right; that's the important thing," he says. "I don't think I got it wrong last time, but get the casting right and you stand a chance. You need the play to move at such a pace where everyone is caught up in events beyond their control."

A Midsummer Night's Dream is both a gift and a challenge, suggests Forster. "Because it's so well known, you want to make it new without feeling you have to reinvent the wheel, as it's so funny and is also an anarchic play that delights in challenging the rules that have been laid down," she says.

Lunchbox Theatrical Productions present Shakespeare's Rose Theatre, at Castle Car Park, Tower Street, York, from June 25 to September 2, with two performances a day at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

For the full performance schedule, visit Tickets can be booked at and or on 01904 623568 or 0844 844 0444.

Did you know?

The name York features in Shakespeare's 37 texts on 274 occasions.