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Thursday, 3 February, 2000, 15:35 GMT
Epic Shakespeare show staged
The Globe expects 400,000 a year to attend the exhibition
Award-winning actress Dame Judi Dench has launched the world's largest Shakespeare exhibition at the Globe Theatre in London.

Dame Judi - who won an Oscar for playing Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love - led a star-studded party for 700 at the Thames-side theatre.
Dame Judi was the star attraction at the launch
Among other notable thespians at Thursday night's bash were Sir Derek Jacobi, and acting couple Timothy West and Prunella Scales.

But most of all, the glitzy event paid tribute to the many organisations countrywide who have contributed to the landmark show.

Interactive Shakespeare

Dubbed a "museum-cum-theme park" - and already winning praise from critics - it capitalises on the latest technology, film and sound.

Among the highlights visitors can expect is a Shakespearean karaoke experience.
Find out what it was like to be an actor in Shakespeare's time
Featuring two booths with interactive screens and microphones, it allows stage-struck tourists to participate in pre-recorded scenes. These include Hamlet's encounter with the gravedigger and the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.

Moving on and there is the chance to compose your own sonnet with a quill, watch displays of swordplay and join in a production through micro-camera technology.

The Globe - a copy of the playhouse where the playwright's productions were first staged - has spent 6.5m on the exhibition.

It expects around 400,000 people to attend the permanent exhibition each year.

The surge in interest will add to the popularity of the theatre - the brainchild of the late actor/director Sam Wanamaker - which has fast become one of London's biggest attractions.
A scene from a replica playhouse
The exhibition will be set in The Underglobe, the cavernous space beneath the South London theatre which is considered close to where Shakespeare's words first rang out 400 years ago.

The entrance will be dominated by the glittering costume worn by legendary actress Jane Lapotaire in her role as Elizabeth I at the theatre's opening ceremony in 1997. Shakespeare's will is also on display.

Colourful programme

Overall, the exhibition is proving less controversial than some of The Globe's past enterprises.
Rylance has raised eyebrows
Artistic director Mark Rylance has consistently caught the headlines with his choice of plays.

And last year he dressed up as a woman to take the part of Cleopatra, in order to recreate historical authenticity to mark the 400th anniversary of the first recorded performance at the original theatre.

This year Vanessa Redgrave will redress the balance for actresses when she plays Prospero, the Duke of Milan, in The Tempest.

The BBC's Arts Correspondent Rosie Millard
"This centre shows off the very latest in technology and design"
See also:

01 Feb 99 | Entertainment
Dame Judi takes the stage
27 Jan 99 | Entertainment
Meet Mr Cleopatra
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