Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations Around The Globe

This year marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, and it's a date that's being celebrated not just up and down the British Isles, but also across the length and breadth of the whole darn world. 

The work of the planet's most famous playwright has had more exposure than he could probably ever have imagined was possible. And, four and a half centuries on, his birth is being celebrated in style!

So, here are just a few of the events where participants will be partying like it's 1564.

Celebrating Shakespeare's Birthday in The U.K.

The RSC - The Royal Shakespeare Company is going all out, as could be expected, with a string of events over the course of the next three years (celebrating both 'jubilee years' 2014 and 2016 - the latter being the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death). 

The birthday bash takes place on Wednesday the 23rd of April (the date Shakespeare's assumed to have been born), with a fireworks display to follow that evening's performance of Henry VI Part I at The Globe.

The following weekend (commencing the 26th of April), as part of the traditional annual celebrations, there will be a host of free activities, including theatre skills workshops (for all the family), music and storytelling. For more information on the various events (and locations), take a look at the RSC's site.

Stratford-Upon-Avon - The other place that can be relied on to pull out all the stops is, of course, Stratford. And Shakespeare's birthplace is not going to disappoint. 

Shakespeare's birthday has been celebrated in the town for almost 200 hundred years, and, this year, between the 26-27th of April, they're bringing music, theatre and pageantry to the streets, where thousands (from all over the world), are expected to turn out.

Shakespeare in Love has been adapted for the stage
as part of the  450th Shakespeare celebrations
Shakespeare In Love - The 1998 film has been adapted for the stage as part of the year-long anniversary celebrations. 

On at the Noel Coward Theatre, the play's due to open on the 2nd of July, 2014 and is set to star Tom Bateman and Lucy Briggs-Owen.

For more information, or to book tickets, visit the official site.

Victoria and Albert Museum - On the 8th of February, the V&A unveiled its 'Shakespeare: Greatest Living Playwright' installation, which will be running until the 21st of September. 

Including objects from the museum's collection and interviews with modern theatre practitioners, the exhibition takes a look at how Shakespeare's universal themes have proved so timeless.

Celebrating Shakespeare's Birthday in The U.S.

The interior of the Folger Library
The Folger - Leading the charge across the pond is The Folger Shakespeare Library, which has had events since January, and will continue to have all manner of excitement through 'til October. 

Some of the highlights still to come include the annual gala, which takes place on the 23rd; Fiasco Theater's run of The Two Gentleman of Verona, which plays until 25th of May and has a selection of special performance nights; and a visit by James Shapiro, on the 12th of May, to discuss his new book, Shakespeare in America.

King Lear - There are at least six 'major' productions of King Lear being produced in 2014 - these are being played in Canada, London, Stratford and New York. 'Theatre for a New Audience' is producing its version, starring Michael Pennington, at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn. The play began its run on the 14th of March and goes through 'til the 4th of May.

Heart of America Shakespeare Festival - In Kansas City, on the  26th of April, Shakespeare's 450th birthday is being celebrated with food, drink, music and good old-fashioned revelry. Something tells me the Bard would approve! 

The Newberry 'The Bard is Born' - In collaboration with Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the Shakespeare Project of Chicago, The Newberry Library is hosting an exhibition of over forty items, including a First Folio. The event is free, opens on the 21st of April, and closes on the 26th with a reading of All's Well That End's Well by the Shakespeare Project of Chicago.

Celebrating Shakespeare Birthday in Australia

Bell Shakespeare - A week long celebration is being organised by Bell Shakespeare and Google Australia. 

Marloo Theatre, Perth - In celebration of Shakespeare's 450th birthday, Marloo Theatre is putting on three plays: Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's dream and Othello. The festival has already been running since the 1st of April and will be on until the 26th, with the three plays on a rotation. 

Celebrating Shakespeare's Birthday in Europe


Beautiful Clonakilty is becoming 'Clon-Upon-Avon'
as it celebrates its inaugural Shakespeare festival this year
Ireland 'Clonakilty Shakesepare Festival' - For the very first time (and what better time to choose!), the West Cork town of Clonakilty is hosting a Shakespeare festival

With events spanning five days, it will include 'The Shakebox', a human jukebox who has a playlist of thirty eight Shakespearean excerpts.

Running from the 23rd of April to the 27th, it promises activities for the whole family. 

Romania 'The International Shakespeare Theatre Festival' - This year marks the 9th annual International Shakespeare festival in Romania. Running from the 23rd of April until the 4th of May, theatre companies from numerous countries, as varied as China and South Africa, are performing across twelve locations.

France 'Shakespeare 450' - The French Shakespeare Society is holding a week long conference, from the 21st of April to the 27th, in Paris. With lectures, seminars, workshops and exhibitions, there's a whole host of events spanning a number of venues. 

The Globe Theatre in Neuss, Germany
Germany 'Shakespeare Festival' - At a racecourse in Neuss, on the west bank of the Rhine, there is a reconstructed 500-seat Globe Theatre. 

There, each year, is a Shakespeare festival. This year, to mark Shakespeare's big anniversary, the Bremer Shakespeare company is staging All's Will That Ends Will: a tribute to the Bard.

This is, of course, just a small selection of the many celebrations and festivals that are taking place across the world. I've only just scratched the surface with this list, which goes to show, as Wet, Wet, Wet said, Shakespeare really is all around....oh no, that was love...well, you get the idea!

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