Today marks, what we think to be, the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. He died at the age of 52, which was relatively old in his period, yet we know nothing about the circumstances. This is true with most of The Bar’s life, although he is still engrained into British culture and literature today, we know very little about him, with two periods of his life even being dubbed ‘the lost years’. However, one can see the impact of our most famous playwright by how wide and spread the celebrations for his departure are, and here’s our top 5.
The British Library
The British Library is holding an all singing, all dancing Bard night, with music, performance, words and sideshows. With the evening being hosted by the Passion in Practice Shakespeare Ensemble, who will perform famous scenes from the plays. Broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald, actress June Brown and the poet John Agard, will be joining in on the festivities and reading their favourite Shakespearean passages. Aside from the readings, there will be live music from the folk duo The Askew Sisters, along with DJ Muzz Hjan, spoken word artist LionHeart and pieces from acclaimed theatre companies, Graeae and The Big House. The evening will give you plenty of opportunities to get involved with the night, in whatever way you can think of.
The tickets also include access to the new exhibition Shakespeare in Ten Acts, which features over 200 unique items, such as the only surviving play-script in Shakespeare’s own hand, along with earliest prints, Shakespeare’s first folio and more. It is worth seeing this exhibition, even if you can’t see it tonight, it runs until the 6th September.
Shakespeare's Globe's Swan Afternoon Tea
The Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, is offering a Midsummer Night’s Dream-themed afternoon tea. This means pea flower, apricot and mulberries galore, which are all featured in the play; from the various love potions,to the tree under which Pyramus and Thisbe meet. These ingredients specially feature in the Love Potion cocktail, which is a mix of Earl Grey infused gin, honey from the London Honey Co, blackberry puree and prosecco, all topped with fresh blackberries. The tea will be served on crockery which reflects the themes of the play, designed by the illustrator Annika Wester.
The afternoon tea is available Monday to Saturday from 11:30am to 3:30pm, and Sunday from 2pm to 3:30pm.
Until the 1st January 2017 Windsor Castle is housing a Shakespearean display that has been collected by the royal family. This includes a wonderful collection of art by members of the royal family that was inspired by the playwright and his work.
However, later in the year Windsor is holding special family performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the beautiful Moat Garden. The setting provides a backdrop which will immerse the audience into the story, where the fairies will really frolic amongst the foliage.
The plays are running from the 18th to the 27th August between 18:00-19:00.
A Shakespearean Cruise
The Citycruises company is running a cruise from Bankside Pier, near the Globe Theatre, 5 times a day through the month of April. Onboard will be actors playing snippets from Shakespeare’s play as you float along the Thames, starting at the heart of the Jacobean theatre scene. The tour is 50 minutes long and seems to be a relaxing way to celebrate and commemorate The Bard.
Anniversary Gala Concert
Royal Festival Hall
A special gala event is being held in the Royal Festival Hall tonight, at 19:30. The London Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing music, starting with Verdi’s setting of Othello, and closing with Falstaff. With Valdimir Jurowski conducting tonight, with reading interspersed throughout the music it is set to be a fantastic night. Actors Anna Chancellor and Dominic West, both directed by Simon Callow, will perform the readings with plenty of passion and drama that will match up to the gusto of the music.
This is a classical way to celebrate Shakespeare’s life, and it is bound to be a night to remember.