Interview with James Cundall of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre

Ahead of the theatre opening on 25th June, we caught up with the chap behind the ambitious Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre – Europe’s first ever pop-up Shakespearean theatre.


Hello. Who are you?

James Cundall, Chief Executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Founder of Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre.

And what do you do?

Lunchbox Theatrical Productions are global producers of live entertainment. We produce West End and Broadway shows in over 20 countries and are leaders of our industry in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila and South Africa. We also produce events and are well known in this area for Yorkshire’s Winter Wonderland, THOR’s tipi bar and Christmas at York Museum Gardens. Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre is our newest and most exciting project to date.

Tell us what audiences can expect this summer at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre?

More than 400 years ago, the first audiences for Shakespeare’s plays enjoyed an experience that was as intimate as it was exciting, crowded in close to the actors and the action, in a small theatre in the bustling city of London. In SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE an experience every bit as exciting, intimate and immersive will be offered to today’s audiences in a dramatic playhouse setting beside the iconic 13th century Clifford’s Tower in the heart of the historic city of York.

The unique environment of SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE connects actors and audience together in ways many people will never have experienced before. While an interactive experience awaits those closest to the stage in the courtyard, no seat in the theatre will be more than 15m from the action, providing plenty of breath-taking, spine-tingling, heart-stopping moments!

What inspired the project?

Having spent some time in New Zealand a few years ago, I came across a similar concept there and saw how popular it was with a huge cross-section of people. Years later and we have been able to create our own version of it but with many more features such as the Elizabethan Village.

What is your favourite Shakespeare play and why?

Macbeth is my favourite Shakespeare play as Stephen Fry and I auditioned for the same part and Stephen got it. I feel that his career could have been mine!

Apart from the performances, what else is happening in and around the theatre?

Outside the theatre we have created an Elizabethan village with free wagon entertainment, local street food providers, a full licensed bar, a Pimm’s bar also serving strawberries and cream and plenty of themed character everywhere to put people in the mood the minute you walk into the event. We even have an Elizabethan garden with fountains and seating galore throughout the site.

The free wagon entertainment will be on throughout the season showcasing some of the best short performances Yorkshire actors has to offer. Even if you didn’t come to watch a show, this will definitely be the place to hang out with a glass of wine or a burger and soak up the atmosphere this summer.

Does the theatre have a future?

I would never do anything unless I believed in it and the buzz from media and the general public certainly indicates that there is a future. Let’s wait and see how this summer goes!

What is next for you?

After a long lie in when the event finally opens, I shall getting back on a plane to attend the opening of Chicago the Musical in Auckland, New Zealand in August. For now though, you will find me watching as many performances at the theatre as possible

Find out more about the theatre, and book tickets, at


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