Commissioned by the RSC, Jubilee is a mischievous comedy on the cynical foundation of the Shakespeare industry.
In 1769, the famous actor David Garrick is approached by greedy Stratfordian burghers and talked into staging the first theatre festival to celebrate the life of their town’s most famous son. Garrick is persuaded into arranging the festival by three RSC directions, who point out that founding the cult of Shakespeare will make him even more famous, as well as giving RSC directors something to do.
The Jubilee itself was a soggy catastrophe, providing Barnes with ample material for comic exuberance, but Barnes marks it as the starting point of a cultural obsession that deserves some light-hearted ridicule.
Barnes' ironic and irreverent comedy dissects the cult of the theatrical personality, with guest appearances from the Bard himself, Ben Jonson, David Garrick, Samuel Johnson, Trevor Nunn, Sir Peter Hall and Peter Barnes. Jubilee premiered in 2001 at the Swan Theatre, Stratford.