THE red ribbon has been cut, the stage has been blessed by the Archbishop of York and Macbeth has done his worst for the first time to herald the opening of Europe’s first pop-up Shakespearean theatre on half of a York car park.

A year in the planning and three and a half weeks in the building in wood and steel scaffolding at Tower Street, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre is under way with the first two of 140 performances being staged on Monday: Macbeth at 2.30pm and Romeo And Juliet at 7.30pm. A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Richard III will complete the portfolio of tragedy, doomed love story, comedy and history play.

Heralded by Ripon City Bellman Geoffrey Johnson, on borrowed town crier duty from York’s fellow cathedral city, and the musicians of The York Waits, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions chief executive James Cundall, Macbeth director Damian Cruden and Yorkshire chef Brian Turner performed the ribbon ceremony at 11am on Monday.

“The first Shakespeare theatre in York was nearly built in 1609, so it has taken...well, rather a long time,” said Mr Cundall, as cheers rose and the first feet made their way across the wood chippings of the Shakespeare Village that will lead to the Rose Theatre over the next 10 weeks.

At 12.45pm, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu took to the stage to bless the opening production of Macbeth, his path suddenly spooked by one of the three Witches.

Mr Cundall said: “What’s interesting is that when I presented the first drawing to the council [City of York Council], it was very clear what I had in mind: a Shakespearean theatre on a car park; a village with a wagon with free live entertainment and fine Yorkshire food and drink, and that drawing is what we’ve now delivered.

“It’s a wonderful thing for our city that when people say you have to go to London to see good things in the arts, no, you don’t have to go down there. It’s here in York.”

Chef Brian Turner has overseen the Yorkshire menu for the Shakespeare Village and The York Waits will be among the musicians and actors providing free entertainment at the restored wagon in the two hours leading up to each performance. Admission to the village is free; tickets for the four plays are on sale on 01904 623568 or at