In the run up to the Bard’s birthday, we take a look at the stellar British organisations that work to keep his spirit alive
The name William Shakespeare and the acclaimed plays that he published don’t just intrigue visitors to our shores, they are also a source of great inspiration for Brits too. So why has the myth of the playwright endured so many centuries? We have a look at the greatest organisations whose goal is the promotion and preservation of the Bard’s work.
The Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is the world’s leading theatre company dedicated to William Shakespeare and his works. Based in Stratford-upon-Avon, the company has been making theatre for over 100 years. It was developed from the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre which was created in 1875 and was renamed the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1961 after years of successful tours. The company now produces award-winning plays, as well as new productions, using their wealth of experience. This summer, visitors can enjoy performances of classics The Merchant of Venice and Othello while on 21 October, the RSC’s production of Henry V will be broadcast live in cinemas around the country.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is an independent charity which was formed in 1847 after the house that Shakespeare was born in was bought as a national memorial. The trust grew as they purchased more of the homes related to Shakespeare’s life. In 1964 the Trust opened a new headquarters and a study facility: The Shakespeare Centre. Their unique collections and literary event programme are a fantastic addition to the five heritage homes that the Trust owns making them a thorough resource for anyone looking to find out more about Shakespeare and his life.
This year the bard’s Birthday Procession takes place in Stratford-upon-Avon on Saturday 25 April, winding through the historic spine of Stratford and finishing with the laying of flowers on Shakespeare’s grave at Holy Trinity Church. On Sunday 26 April a special Shakespeare Service takes place at his final resting place.
Shakespeare’s Globe, London
The most renowned London landmark from Shakespeare’s times is the Globe Theatre. The theatre was built in early 1599. Shakespeare held shares in the Globe and it was here that he presented many of his greatest plays for the 14 years of its existence. It was in 1613 during a performance of a play about Henry VIII that the Globe’s thatched roof caught fire. The theatre was quickly rebuilt with a tiled roof but it was closed in 1642. The new theatre was built and opened in 1997 after a tireless campaign by American actor, director and producer Sam Wanamaker. After a visit to London in 1949 Wanamaker was inspired and later created the Shakespeare Globe Trust which was dedicated to the reconstruction of the iconic theatre. It now acts as a national vehicle for Shakespeare’s works and as an educational centre for students from around the world.
Shakespeare’s England is the organisation dedicated to the area of England that Shakespeare inhabited and influenced. Covering Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick, Kenilworth and Royal Leamington Spa, they provide information on what’s on, where to stay and things to do.
This year, from 25 April to 3 May, the popular Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival attracts literature fans as well as budding writers and playwrights.