This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, widely considered to be the greatest dramatist of all time. To celebrate the life of the legendary playwright and poet, London, as well as certain other areas of the country, is hosting various performances, exhibitions and literary readings. Shakespeare400, a consortium of cultural, creative and educational organisations led by King’s College London, has been created to commemorate the life and works of The Bard of Avon.
Here are some of the best up-coming events from the year of celebrations:
The Globe Theatre’s ‘The Complete Walk’
The legendary Globe Theatre is the go-to theatre for any Shakespeare enthusiast. The Complete Walk consists of 37 screens along a 2.5-mile course between Westminster and Tower Bridge. Displayed on the screens will be short films starring some of the world’s best actors performing scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. Shot on location in places as far afield as Venice and Egypt, the films display just how much of a global visionary the playwright was. This interactive walk in the very heart of London will form the centrepiece of the city’s celebration. The Complete Walk takes place on April 23rd and 24th.
Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations
Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon will also be celebrating the 452nd birthday of the town’s favourite son. Take advantage of car hire and head to what’s sure to be a lively procession that will lead through the winding streets of Stratford, passing through many important places in the playwright’s life, including the house he grew up in, the school at which he learned his craft, and the church in which he’s buried. The birthday parade is sure to be a great day out for all the family and takes place on April 23rd.
Shakespeare Son et Lumiere: the Dance Porch of Guildhall
Guildhall Library and Guildhall School of Music are combining to host what is sure to be an unforgettable light and sound production, Shakespeare Son et Lumiere: the Dance Porch of Guildhall. The medieval exterior of Guildhall is to be turned into a stage by 3D projection mapping technology. The production will explore Shakespeare’s relationship with London, the city in which he spent half his life and wrote all his plays. The projections and illuminations will be accompanied by music from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In addition to this performance, visitors can also enjoy the Guildhall Art Gallery that will be exhibiting a number of pieces Shakespeare fans will find interesting. These include Shakespeare’s signature as well as one of the few remaining records of London before the Great Fire, created in the same year as Shakespeare’s death. This event takes place on March 4th and 5th.
Although many of the events are based in London and Stratford-upon-Avon, there are other incredible events being held all over England. One such event is the critically acclaimed adaptation of Henry V by Antic Disposition. The award-winning theatre company is taking the play to a number of stunning cathedrals, including Gloucester, Salisbury and Worcester. The directors, Ben Horslen and John Risebero, have adapted Shakespeare’s famous history play and set it during the First World War. The production lets fans enjoy a marvelous play set in the backdrop of the stunning surroundings of some of England’s finest buildings. The tour is on between March 26th and April 29th.
Shakespeare on Film
Shakespeare’s influence on film cannot be understated. Both directly through adaptation, and indirectly through plots, The Bard’s work can be seen in some of the world’s most famous films. BFI Southbank will host a series of screenings and talks focusing on the various interpretations of Shakespeare’s work on the big screen. Films will range from Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet to Disney’s Lion King, displaying the wide variety of films that have sought inspiration from the playwright. One particularly interesting part of the series looks set to be the exploration of Shakespeare in silent cinema. The BFI have collaborated with the Shakespeare’s Globe Players, an ensemble of acclaimed musicians, to create a score for the silent films. Shakespeare on Film will run at BFI Southbank between March 31st and May 31st.
The London of 2016 looks very different to the one of 1616. Luckily though, with the help of the Museum of London, you can explore the city that Shakespeare lived, wrote and performed his plays in. This archaeological tour of Elizabethan London is home to some fascinating artefacts including bear bones and stage effects, all of which help tell the story of Shakespeare. The exhibition opens on April 2nd.
William Shakespeare is without doubt one of literature’s most iconic figures and his influence can still be felt 400 years after his death. To celebrate the life and works of the playwright, 2016 is filled with a whole host of amazing events.