Did you know that 400 years ago on 23rd April 1616, the world’s most successful playwright, William Shakespeare, died? Little did he know as he lay on his death bed that his plays would prove so popular on a world-wide scale and be performed continuously around the globe.
Now some people, mainly “the yoof of today” if my teenage sons are anything to go by, think Shakespeare is old fashioned and inaccessible, no matter how hard I try to tell them otherwise. The thing is with Shakespeare you don’t actually have to understand every single word he writes – I certainly don’t – to enjoy the fantastic ways he tells a story on stage.
His use of the English language is simple divine and it’s amazing how many sayings that were first introduced by Shakespeare in his plays we still use now-a-days such as ‘elbow room’ (King John), ‘heart of gold’ (Henry V), ‘tower of strength’ (Richard III) and ‘wild-goose chase’ (Romeo and Juliet). Bet you never knew that?
Although, not being celebrated on such a large scale as his 450th birthday a few years back, there are still plenty of Shakespeare productions happening in London and Stratford-upon-Avon, home of The Bard.
Here’s what you can see and where you can see it in the early part of 2016…
Shakespeare in Stratford-Upon-Avon
On the banks of the River Avon stands an impressive building which houses the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres and is home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The RSC always has an impressive list of Shakespeare productions in their two seasons which, in the next six months, includes A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet and Cymbeline.
As part of the Shakespeare400 events, the Birthplace Trust has been tasked with bringing back to life the New Place, Shakespeare’s grand house that he had built in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and the discoveries are exciting visitors and scholars alike! You can include entrance into any three of the five Shakespeare properties in your Stratford-Upon-Avon theatre break to see for yourself.
Shakespeare in London
In the West End
In London, at the Garrick theatre, the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company will perform one of Shakespeare’s most well-known and treasured plays Romeo and Juliet starring two of Britain’s bright young stars Richard Madden (Game of Thrones, Lady Chatterley’s Lover) and Lily James (Downton Abbey, War & Peace).
Whilst at the National theatre, Evening Standard Award-winner Rosalie Craig plays the feisty Rosalind in As You Like It until 5th March 2016.
Shakespeare at the Globe
Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, which gives the audience an experience like no other, is celebrating the Bard’s anniversary with The Taming of the Shew, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest and Pericles. Here you are whisked back in time as you enter this replica of the orginal Globe Theatre. You can watch shows as one of the groundlings who stand around the stage or rent a cushion and sit in one of the galleries.