Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations

Shakespeare Statue

The Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations have been taking place in Stratford for nearly two centuries. But it’s not just here that celebrates the birth of the Bard. Here’s our pick of 2011’s Shakespeare-inspired events.

The Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations have been taking place in Stratford-upon-Avon for nearly two centuries. The tradition brings together the local community, professional and amateur performers and artists and ambassadors from around the world in a vibrant celebration of the life and works of Stratford’s favourite son.

The town’s streets overflow with pageantry, music and drama during three days of festivities. Stratford is not alone in its celebrations: it is the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 50th birthday this year and, as the company settles into its new £112m home, it’s opening with a season of the Bard’s best work, kicking off with Macbeth in April. Of course, the fabulous RSC is not the only theatre company offering up a superb range of Shakespearean performances this season. The great plays will be performed in the Globe in Southwark, the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park, in the West End, and in the Old Vic.

Choose from our pick of Shakespeare-inspired events:

WHAT: Hamlet
Playing a limited number of performances at the Globe on a tour of stunning venues across the UK and Europe, Hamlet encompasses political intrigue and sexual obsession, philosophical reflection and violent action, tragic depth and wild humour. This performance lasts only two-and-a-half hours at the Globe or when touring with an Elizabethan-style stage and a handful of players.
WHERE: The Globe
WHEN: 23 April to 9 July 2011

WHAT: Much Ado About Nothing
A wonderful National Trust event with a performance of this much-loved play that shows Shakespeare’s wit at its best. Join Theatre Set Up for a fantastic night, set against the fabulous background of historic Lacock Abbey (pictured below).
WHERE: Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum and Village, Lacock, near Chippenham, Wiltshire SN15 2LG
WHEN: 9 June 2011

WHAT: Twelfth Night
Open-air performance in the grassed Courtyard of Wallington – described as a ‘hilarious version of one of Shakespeare’s most popular comic love stories, a classic tale of mistaken identities and romantic mix-ups set in a topsy turvy land.’
WHERE: Wallington, Cambo, Morpeth, Northumberland NE61 4AR
WHEN: 12 June 2011

WHAT: As You Like It
Rosalind, the daughter of a banished duke, falls in love with Orlando at a wrestling match, but her usurping uncle, jealous of her popularity, banishes her from court…
WHERE: New Theatre Royal 20-24 Guildhall walk, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 2DD
WHEN: 12 May to 15 May 2011

WHAT: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare – Abridged
This mad-cap comedy sees Adam, Jess and Daniel of Tread the Boards Theatre Company perform all of Shakespeare’s plays. Includes Titus as masterchef, the Othello rap and Hamlet backwards…
WHERE: The Attic Theatre, Cox’s Yard, Bridgefoot, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6YY
WHEN: 26 April to 1 May 2011

The final season of The Bridge Project,
starring Kevin Spacey in the title role of Richard III and directed by
Sam Mendes, previews at The Old Vic from 18 June 2011. Tickets on sale
WHERE: The Old Vic
WHEN: From 18 June 2011

WHAT: The Comedy of Errors
Separated as babies by a storm at sea, two sets of identical twins have been brought up in different countries in ignorance of each other. When fate intervenes a second time and brings them (unknowingly) together, mayhem ensues, in Shakespeare’s most fast-moving and hilarious farce.
WHERE: The Tobacco Factory, Raleigh Road, Bristol BS3 1TF
WHEN: Until 30 April 2011

WHAT: Open Air Theatre – Twelfth Night
Illyria, who have won four international awards for performing Shakespeare, present an evening of romance, music and sheer and utter joy performed against the stunning backdrop of Corfe Castle.
WHERE: Corfe Castle, The Square, Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset BH20 5EZ
WHEN: 30 June 2011

WHAT: As You Like It
As You Like It runs the gauntlet of pastoral romance, cross dressing and love notes, poetry and brilliant conversation, performed by the world-class Globe Players. Bring a picnic; drinks will be available throughout the performance from the Keep.
WHERE: Hedingham Castle, Bayley Street, Castle Hedingham, Essex CO9 3DJ
WHEN: 10 and 11 July 2011

WHAT: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Picnic in the magical surroundings of Bamburgh Castle (pictured below) and enjoy a wonderful evening of theatre under the stars. Enjoy Shakespeare’s renowned romantic comedy in an awe-inspiring setting.
WHERE: Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh, Northumberland NE69 7DF
WHEN: 9 July

WHAT: Much Ado About Nothing
Major 21st annual outdoor theatre production by the North East’s leading community theatre company. Performed in a covered, tiered 400-seat theatre in a beautiful garden setting.
WHERE: Grounds of The Bowes Museum, Newgate, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham DL12 8NP
WHEN: 5 July – 9 July 2011

WHAT: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
With a Royal wedding in prospect, a bunch of blundering entertainers find themselves caught in a battle between the King and Queen of the fairies, resulting in enchantment, intrigue and confusion. The all-male Lord Chamberlain’s Men will perform the play in the open air on the Pavilion Lawn.
WHERE: Leeds Castle, Kent ME17 1PL
WHEN: 28 July to 30 July