To mark the 452nd birthday of William Shakespeare – aka Britain’s greatest playwright – and the 400th anniversary of his death later this month, we detail the programme of celebrations planned in the capital. Get ready to celebrate Shakespeare in style…
Senate House Library, 14 April – 17 September 2016
Over the last four centuries Shakespearean text and scholarship, as well as perceptions of the man himself, have undergone continuous reinvention. Inspired by the famous ‘seven ages of man’ speech from As You Like It, Shakespeare: Metamorphosis traces and explains this 400-year transformation by highlighting and displaying over 30 rare texts from seven significant ages of development, including the first folio from 1623.
Shakespeare in Ten Acts
British Library, 15 April – 6 September 2016
This landmark exhibitions takes visitors on a journey through the 400 year history of William Shakespeare, such as the first production of Hamlet and demonstrates how Shakespeare’s plays have been transformed for new generation theatre-goers. Shakespeare in Ten Acts showcases over 200 unique and rare items such as the only surviving play-script in Shakespeare’s hand, an authentic Shakespeare signature, the earliest printed edition of Hamlet from 1603 and Shakespeare’s First Folio.
Midnight Matinee: Much Ado About Nothing
The Rose Theatre, 22 April 2016
The Rose Playhouse was the first Elizabethan theatre on Bankside and the original home of many Shakespeare plays. There will be a special Midnight Matinee to mark exactly 400 years since Shakespeare took his last breath. Wolf-Sister Productions will produce a reduced version of one of his best loved comedies, Much Ado About Nothing, ending the play with a toast to Shakespeare for all to join in with a complimentary glass of Gin and Tonic. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
A service commemorating William Shakespeare
Southwark Cathedral, 23 April 2016
A Shakespeare monument and stained glass window, depicting characters from some of his plays, is the Cathedral’s most popular memorial. Shakespeare’s troupe of actors lodged here, and the choir at the Cathedral prospered during Shakespeare’s day when Southwark was the entertainment centre of London. A special service will be held from 11am-12pm, followed by performances from Arthur Smith and Rick Jones (an annual tradition at the Cathedral) from 2pm, revealing the truth about Shakespeare’s first publishers and performing lute songs from the plays. For more information, visit their website.
The Leicester Square Theatre, 26 April – 11 June 2016
A staple of the Edinburgh fringe, Shit-faced Shakespeare has a cast performing a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with one actor among them completely drunk. The cast get the actor blisteringly drunk before the performance and proceed to enact the Bard’s story of fairies and shape-shifters. The run marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. For more information, follow them on Twitter.
Shakespeare’s Bankside: A walk with John Constable
Walks start at Shakespeare’s Globe, 27 April 2016 and 8 May 2016
Join local historian, writer and playwright, John Constable to discover ‘Shakespeare’s Bankside’. On this free walk, visit the sites of famous playhouses – set among bear-pits and brothels. Constable’s popular Bankside walks reveal the human face of The Bard: where he (allegedly) attacked a man, where his brother was buried, where he and his fellow actors lived, worked and partied. For more information, visit the Better Bankside website.
Romeo and Juliet
The Garrick Theatre, 12 May – 31 August 2016
Reuniting the stars of his celebrated film Cinderella, Kenneth Branagh directs Richard Madden as Romeo, Lily James as Juliet and Derek Jacobi as Mercutio in Shakespeare’s heartbreaking tale of forbidden love. One of Shakespeare’s most famous and often performed plays, Romeo and Juliet is the story of young love and the devastating tragedy that unfolds when tenderness and naivety is met with violence and pride. For more information, visit their website.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Barbican Theatre, 17 – 21 May 2016
In 2016, the RSC and amateur companies around the UK will take audiences on a very special Midsummer adventure with a unique production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The nation’s favourite Shakespeare play is performed as never before; magically intertwining professional and amateur actors, deep in an enchanted wood on Midsummer’s night. F
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, 1 – 27 June 2015
The remotest in time of all Shakespeare’s English history plays, King John, with its cynical allegiances and ruthless politicking, now feels his most abrasively modern. This is a first for the Globe and a rare opportunity to see some vividly memorable characters brought to life on the stage – especially the wildly outspoken Faulconbridge, one of Shakespeare’s most thrillingly caustic political commentators.
The Shadow King
Barbican Theatre, 22 June – 2 July 2016
Transporting King Lear to northern Australia, The Shadow King reimagines Shakespeare’s tragedy as a blood-soaked tale of two indigenous families divided by land, identity and legitimacy. Told through modern English, Kriol languages and a score, including Aboriginal ‘dreamtime’ songs, performed live by an onstage band, The Shadow King fuses music, new text and video to create provocative and epic theatre. Following a Best Direction win for Michael Kantor at the 2014 Helpmann Awards, the production brings together Australia’s foremost Indigenous actors led by Tom E. Lewis.
Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition and Tour
Shakespeare’s Globe, tours depart every 30 minutes from 9.30am to 5.30pm
Join the Globe’s expert guides who take visitors on fascinating tours of the iconic theatre, bringing the space to life with colourful stories of the 1599 Globe, of the reconstruction process in the 1990s, and of how the ‘wooden O’ works today as an imaginative and experimental theatrical space.