Actor Rawiri Paratene can't seem to get enough of Shakespeare.
The stage and screen star returned home earlier this year after spending the better part of two years with the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre World Tour of Hamlet. Paratene was the only non-British based actor in a 16-strong cast which travelled 310,647 kilometres visiting 197 countries, including New Zealand, to perform The Bard's tragedy.
Now he's been cast as the Duke of Exeter in Pop-up Globe's Henry V.
"Working in that space is the most fantastic feeling for me," says Paratene, of the 360-degree pop-up theatre that revolves around the stage.
"It's a very intimate and very personal space. It's like being an orator on a marae where you have to reach everyone collectively as well as every individual. I feel really comfortable and at home in that environment."
The Whale Rider star, whose career began in the 1970s as a Playschool presenter, has written and performed in at least two dozen television dramas, comedies and telefeatures. In 2012, he starred in a te reo version of Shakepeare's Troilus and Cressida, leading an 18-strong cast.
The cast also features Shortland Street heartthrob TeKohe Tuhaka, Zoolander 2 and Sparticus actor Antonio Te Maioha, and Edward Newborn from The Waterhorse. Season One favourites to return include Jonny Tynan Moss, who played Romeo, and Stanley Jackson and Stephen Butterworth who starred in Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet.
Some 1200 actors from as far away as Russia and South America applied to join the cast for Pop-up Globe's Season Two productions
"We were astonished and humbled by the level of interest from the international acting community in our project," says artistic director and founder Dr Miles Gregory. "It's ground- breaking history in the making and actors simply wanted to be part of something very special."
Applications were eventually whittled down to 30, representing New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Norway, the United States and the United Kingdom. They will be directed by Dr Gregory and Ben Naylor, local performer Miriama McDowell and UK comedy specialist Tom Mallaburn.
Already 20,000 tickets have been sold to the 2017 season, which will see Pop-up Globe in a garden-setting at Ellerslie Racecourse. Promoters say tickets are selling far faster than last year and they're on track to exceed this year's 100,000 sales.
Built to the same dimensions as the first Pop-up Globe by CamelSpace and with an interior based on ground breaking new research, the new Pop-up Globe features a three-storey Jacobean-inspired stage front, known to Shakespeare scholars as the Frons Scaenae.
Designed after months of research, the huge stage front will be built and painted entirely by hand, feature Jacobean imagery and architectural detailing, have two balconies and be topped by an elaborately painted stage ceiling.
"We're planning to do much more than pop up again," says Dr Gregory. "We want to delight our audiences with an experience that gets us even closer to the atmosphere at the second Globe 400 years ago. We've challenged ourselves to make the new Pop-up Globe even better than the first."
The 2017 season will run from February 23 to May 14. Tickets are on sale via Eventfinda and at popupglobe.co.nz.