The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust marked the anniversary with a year round programme of productions, events and exhibitions.
From March the RSC continued their exploration of each Shakespeare play opening a major new production of Henry IV Parts I & II which will play until September in repertoire in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre with his early play The Two Gentlemen of Verona. On Shakespeare’s actual birthday the 23 April, the RSC celebrated with a firework display from the top of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust launched a brand new exhibition in March, ‘Famous Beyond Words' which explores the extraordinary story of world's greatest playwright and poet. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the RSC also released a newly illustrated map of Shakespeare’s hometown, with a walking route between Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Holy Trinity Church, making the perfect itinerary for visitors keen to explore Shakespeare’s legacy.
Stratford-upon-Avon’s birthday celebrations took place on the weekend of the 26 and 27 April. Stratford’s tradition of the Birthday Celebrations dates back more than 100 years and brings together residents and visitors with people from the worlds of diplomacy, theatre, literature and academia in a vibrant mix of pageantry and performance. Festivities started with the grand Birthday Procession which paraded through the historic spine of Stratford and finished with the laying of flowers on Shakespeare’s grave at Holy Trinity Church. A community parade followed and spectators joined the throng of costumed players, musicians and creative groups to celebrate this milestone anniversary. There was also a programme of special events and activities at the Shakespeare family homes New Place and Nash’s House, Hall’s Croft and Shakespeare Birthplace, and free entertainment in the streets and parks of Stratford.
Enjoy a performance of Romeo and Juliet at Batsford Arboretum on 10 July at 7pm and a school's matinee at 1pm. The Lord Chamberlain’s Men return with their 10th anniversary performance of this much loved play. The Men specialise in performing Shakespeare exactly as he intended using beautiful settings to add to the atmosphere. Matinee tickets cost £10 and evening tickets cost £16 for adults & £10 for children, students and concessions. Gates open an hour before each performance so bring your own picnic and rug, settle down and enjoy magical theatre in a magical venue. To book please call 01386 701441.
A concert in Holy Trinity Church on 24 April will launch a new 3 year global singing project by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to mark the anniversary of the playwright’s birth and death. Singing Shakespeare will inspire choirs from all over the world to perform musical settings of Shakespeare. The concert will form part of the town’s Birthday Celebrations and will feature the world premiere of a new work by award-winning composer Gary Carpenter,as well asthe world premiere of a new arrangement of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Fear No More’. The concert will include performances by the Stratford-upon-Avon Chamber Choir, Holy Trinity Church Choir and Cantare, a newly formed chamber choir based in Stratford. Tickets cost £12 (adults) and concessions £9 (children 5-17, students in full time education and over 60s). Book online at www.singingshakespeare.com