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Mark Rylance is an internationally well-known actor and theatre director. His various film roles include Ferdinand in Prospero's Books (after a play by William Shakespeare), Jay in Intimacy (after a novel by Hanif Kureishi) or Jakob van Gunten in Institute Benjamenta (after a novel by Robert Walser), where he worked with directors like Peter Greenaway, Patrice Chéreau or the Brothers Quay.

During 1995-2005 he was the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, UK.

Life and career

Rylance was born in Ashford, England, to Anne and David Rylance, both English teachers. When he was two, his parents moved to Connecticut in the United States and in 1971, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Mark later attended college and began acting. His first notable role was Hamlet in a 1976 school production (with his own father as the First Gravedigger), and the next year Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, during the University School of Milwaukee's First Shakespeare Festival.

With considerable juvenile experience already in hand, Rylance won a scholarship by audition to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) in London. There he trained from 1978-1980 under Hugh Cruttwell, and with Barbara Bridgmont at the Chrysalis Theatre School, Balham, London. In 1980 he got his first professional work at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre.

1982/3: playing for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) both in Stratford upon Avon and London.

1980s: worked with the London Theatre of Imagination, Royal Opera House, English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre (with Max Stafford Clark).

1987: work with Mike Alfreds' Shared Experience at the Royal National Theatre (RNT), met Claire van Kampen, musician and composer (the first female Musical Director at the RNT and RSC, and both at the same time).

1988: played Hamlet with the RSC in Ron Daniels' acclaimed production that toured Ireland and England for a year. The play then ran in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Mark alternated Hamlet with Romeo in the production of Romeo and Juliet that inaugurated the rebuilt Swan Theatre in Stratford. Hamlet toured to the United States for two years.

1989: married Claire van Kampen.

1990: with Claire founded Phoebus' Cart, their own theatre company.

1991 (summer): performing The Tempest in magic sites with Phoebus' Cart: at the Rollright Stones Circle in Oxfordshire, the ruins of Corfe Castle in Devon and the site of not yet started Shakespeare's Globe (* Shakespeare's Globe online) in London. Mark was then invited by Sam Wanamaker to join the Board of Directors of Shakespeare's Globe, thus getting involved with the project.

1991: played the lead in Gillies Mackinnon's film The Grass Arena, and won the BBC Radio Times Award for Best Newcomer.

1993: starred in Matthew Warchus' production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Queen's Theatre, produced by Thelma Holt. His Benedick won him an Olivier Award for Best Actor.

1995-2005: first Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. He has directed and acted in every season, both in Shakespeare's works and those of his contemporaries.

Under his directorate, the first new play for the Globe in 400 years, Augustine's Oak (ref. to Augustine of Hippo and christianisation of Roman England) written by Peter Oswald, was performed in 1999. A second play for the Globe followed in 2002: The Golden Ass or the Curious Man by Peter Oswald, writer-in-residence. In 2005 the third play of Peter Oswald written for the Globe was performed for the first time: The Storm, an adaption of Plautus' comedy Rudens (The Rope), that was one of the sources of The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

Other historical first nights organized by Mark Rylance as director of Shakespeare's Globe include Twelfth Night performed in 2002 at Middle Temple, to commemorate its first performance there exactly 400 years before. In summer 2004, the performance of Much Ado about Nothing at Hampton Court was another wonderful event in the original surroundings to commemorate a Shakespeare's first 400 years in the past.

Claire van Kampen is Artistic Associate and Director of theatre Music at the Globe since 1995.

Mark is a Friend of the Francis Bacon Research Trust, and an Associate Artist of the RSC. One of Mark's prime interests lies in the use of symbols from Alchemy, Neoplatonism, and the Jewish mystical tradition of the Kabbalah in Shakespeare's plays.

Mark Rylance is also involved in a number of social and political activities among which the UN's Peace One Day Campaign; he is a member of the Club of Budapest.

Article text released under CC-BY-SA. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mark Rylance" (11-Mar-2006)


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