BRITAIN’s top 10… Shakespeare 400 events in 2016

David Tennant, Shakespeare, hamlet, shakespeare events roundup
David Tennant as Hameot for the Royal Shakespeare Company Credit: Ellen Kurttz/RSC

We’ve picked out 10 of the biggest and best Shakespeare 400 events in the UK and around the world so you can celebrate the Bard wherever you are.

Shakespeare in ten Acts, British Library, John Manningham
John Manningham’s 1602 diary forms part of the Shakespeare in Ten Acts exhibition at The British Library Credit: British Library/The British Library Board

In the year of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Britain’s leading cultural, creative, heritage and educational organisations will be celebrating the great Bard’s extraordinary legacy as the Shakespeare 400, with huge events, exhibitions and theatrical offerings taking place around the UK, and overseas and online.

Wherever you are, there will be a way to get involved. Here, we’ve picked out 10 of the biggest and best events to look forward to over the year.

1 Shakespeare in Ten Acts exhibition, The British Library, London, 15 April to 6 September

The British Library marks the Shakespeare 400 with a major exhibition, Shakespeare in Ten Acts exploring 10 performances that have made Shakespeare the cultural icon he is today.

On display will be the only surviving play script in Shakespeare’s hand, two of only six authentic signatures, rare printed editions including the First Folio, plus paintings, photographs, costumes and props.

2 The Complete Walk, Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, 23 April to 24 April

shakespeare's globe, theatre, shakespeare 400, complete walk
Shakespeare’s Globe Credit: John Wildgoose/Shakespeare’s Globe

Over the spring weekend of 23 April to 24 April 2016, the banks of the Thames will come alive with an extraordinary celebration as Shakespeare’s Globe invites the world to join The Complete Walk to mark the Shakespeare 400.

Thirty-seven screens along a 2.5-mile route between Westminster and Tower Bridge will play a series of specially made short films. At the heart of each film, some of the world’s finest actors, including Simon Russell Beale, Peter Capaldi and Dominic West – will perform scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, shot in the place hovering in his imagination when he wrote them.

3 Shakespeare And His World, free online course, starting April 18

Together with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT), the University of Warwick’s Professor Jonathan Bate explores Shakespeare, his works and the world he lived in with the help of SBT collections with this massive open online course (mooc), Shakespeare and his World.

Take a look inside the vaults where thousands of artefacts are kept and see some of the key locations associated with Shakespeare, including the house where he grew up. This free online course is available all over the world and takes place over 10 weeks. Register here.

Shakespeare’s New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon, opens summer 2016

Shakespeare’s home for the final 19 years of his life, he wrote 26 of his best-loved plays as owner of New Place – but it was demolished in 1759 by its then owner. But now Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is creating a new heritage landmark on the site.

The re-imagined New Place will echo the footprint of the original Shakespeare family home, while commissioned artworks and displays throughout the site will evoke a sense of Shakespeare’s family life as well as the major works that were written here. New Place opens to public this July.

5 Shakespeare in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, Windsor, until 1 January

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle will host its own exhibition of rare Shakespearean artefacts Credit: VisitBritain/Craig Easton

A setting for Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, beautiful Windsor Castle is hosting an anniversary display with a royal twist.

Shakespeare in the Royal Library will feature rare Shakespearean folios collected by former kings, accounts of Windsor Castle performances and Shakespeare-inspired art produced by members of the monarchy, all in the beautiful surroundings of Windsor Castle.

Shakespeare Live! From The RSC, BBC 2 broadcast, 23 April

David Tennant, Shakespeare, hamlet, shakespeare events roundup
David Tennant as Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company Credit: Ellen Kurttz/RSC

The BBC Shakespeare Festival will launch on 23 April to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with a live broadcast extravaganza. Shakespeare Live! From The RSC sees the BBC and the Royal Shakespeare Company come together to celebrate our greatest writer’s enduring influence on all performance art forms – from opera to jazz, dance to musicals.

Hosted by former Doctor Who and much-lauded Shakespearean actor David Tennant and directed by the RSC’s artistic director Gregory Doran, the unique event will include appearances from Dame Judi Dench, ENO, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Joseph Fiennes, among others. Tickets to the event in Stratford-upon-Avon are balloted. Enter the ballot here.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation, RSC UK tour, March to June

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Play for the Nation, shakespeare, RSC
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation Credit: Toph McGrills/RSC

The Royal Shakespeare Company takes its production of this Shakespeare classic to the regions and nations of Britain (central England, west Midlands and east Midlands, north-east England, Scotland, north-west England, Yorkshire, south-east England, east England, south-west England, London, Wales and Northern Ireland) to celebrate the Shakespeare 400.

local amateur company will join the RSC’s professional actors in each location. The touring production returns to Stratford-upon-Avon’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre in mid-June.

8 Shakespeare on FilmBFI Southbank, London, 1 April to 31 May

A special BFI-curated programme of around 20 feature films shows how British cinema has transformed and reimagined Shakespeare’s work.

In addition, there will showings of a number of filmed stage productions of Shakespeare, led by Manchester Royal Exchange’s groundbreaking Hamlet starring Maxine Peake and a select number of National Theatre (NT Live) productions including Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston, Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch and King Lear directed by Sam Mendes to mark the Shakespeare 400.

9 Hogarth Shakespeare, Hogarth Press, publishing throughout 2016

This major international publishing initiative for the Shakespeare 400 will see eight of Shakespeare’s plays reimagined by some of today’s bestselling and most celebrated writers.

The new visions include Howard Jacobson’s The Merchant of Venice, Anne Tyler’s The Taming of the Shrew, Margaret Atwood’s The Tempest, Tracy Chevalier’s Othello, Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth, Edward St Aubyn’s King Lear and Gillian Flynn’s Hamlet.

10 Shakespeare Lives!, international events and online, all year

Shakespeare Lives is an unprecedented global programme of events and activities from the British Council celebrating the Shakespeare 400It is an invitation to the world to join in the festivities by participating in a unique online collaboration and experiencing the work of Shakespeare directly on stage, through film, exhibitions and in schools.

Among the many event taking place all over all the world in the course of the year, Shakespeare Lives is also offering a free massive open online course, Exploring English: Shakespeare. The six-week online course looks at the life, works and legacy of William Shakespeare, while giving participants the chance to practise their English language skills and starts on 18 April 2016. Register here.

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