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Shakespeare’s Stratford – 400th Anniversary Celebrations


Growing up near Stratford upon Avon, Shakespeare is pretty much part of my DNA and I could recite Sonnet 18 before I could count to 10 (not really, obvs).

400 years on and he is still such an integral part of culture today across the world and this weekend will see individuals, groups, schools, theatres, thespians and  playwrights celebrate the legacy of William Shakespeare.

The Royal Shakespeare Company are without a doubt the biggest champions of the Bard’s work. They produce an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers. They have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and continue to nurture the talent of the future. The RSC encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre.

So if you’re visiting the Shakes home town of Stratford upon Avon, here’s what’s going on over the weekend:

Swan Wing reopens

Saturday, 23 April

The oldest part of our Stratford estate re-opens on Shakespeare’s Birthday, following a nine- month conservation project.  The restoration and renovations include a new café bar full of  displays of stories and objects from our Collection, plus a brand new art commission by Steven Follen, ‘For All Time’. The three-metre high piece, which draws inspiration from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare’s contemporary Ben Jonson, is made from 2,000 hand folded metal stars.  

The Other Place: From Page to Stage tour

Available now

New for 2016, the RSC’s theatre tour, ‘From Page to Stage’, gives unprecedented access to the rehearsal rooms and costume store at The Other Place – the RSC’s brand new performance space. Find out more about the journey of RSC productions, from the first day of rehearsals to the first performance, with an opportunity to look inside the RSC’s store of 30,000 costumes for the very first time.  Also hear more about the 40 year history of The Other Place, the RSC’s studio theatre, which is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Royal

Shakespeare Theatre. www.rsc.org.uk/yourvisit/toursandtower 

Wondrous Strange  

Saturday, 23 April, 2pm and again at 4pm, Bancroft Gardens

Acrobatic theatre company Mimbre present Wondrous Strange, a specially-commissioned performance, which will see Shakespeare’s most iconic characters in unexpected encounters, celebrating the physical and visual imagery of some of the best known moments in his plays.

BBC Radio 3 

Friday, 22 April to Sunday, 24 April 

Over the anniversary weekend Radio 3 will broadcast live from The Other Place, the RSC’s newly re-opened studio theatre.

Sonnets on the Ferry tickets cost 50 pence each way  

Saturday, 23 April  1.30pm-4.30pm, chain ferry by the Swan Gardens  

Take a short trip across the River Avon on the classic old chain ferry while listening to Shakespeare’s words spoken by our actors. Suitable for all ages.

Shakespeare Live! From the RSC broadcast live on BBC Two from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran.  

Saturday, 23 April, 8.30pm

A special evening event hosted by David Tennant and Catherine Tate celebrating

Shakespeare’s legacy across all the arts, in collaboration with the BBC. The line-up includes

Helen Mirren, Gregory Porter, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Kinnear, Rufus Hound, Henry

Goodman, The Shires, David Suchet, Simon Russell Beale, Roger Allam, Antony Sher, Harriet Walter, John Lithgow, Alexandra Gilbreath, Tim Minchin, Anne Marie Duff, Pippa Nixon, the Orchestra of the Swan, the cast of Horrible Histories and Midlands Youth Jazz.

Shakespeare Live! From the RSC will also be screened live to 368 cinemas in the UK and

Europe by Picturehouse Entertainment – onscreen.rsc.org.uk   #RSCLive

Spectacular fireworks display and Line of Light free

Saturday, 23 April, 10.30pm-12 midnight

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the RSC will present a stunning display of fireworks which includes a depiction of Shakespeare’s face outside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. After the fireworks people can follow the Line of Light from the theatre to Shakespeare’s grave at Holy Trinity Church.  The fireworks have been created by London based arts company  Emergency Exit Arts.

 The Stratfords of the World Friendship Garden 

Saturday, 23 April, all day, free  

To celebrate the ongoing relationship between Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-uponAvon and Stratfords of the World a special friendship garden has been created, based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Willow trees and white foxgloves will line the mini-garden to give the moonlit feel of the forest from Shakespeare’s mystical play, which is currently playing at the RSC. Sculptor Emma Stothard will be creating two six foot willow sculptures of comic favourite, Bottom, and Queen of the fairies, Titania.

Shakespeare Steps: eight locations around StratforduponAvon 

Saturday, 23 April, all day

Follow footsteps and speech bubbles painted on pavements around Stratford-upon-Avon that work as instructions for acting out mini dramas. The self-guided tour is inspired by Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It and brings to life aspects of Shakespeare’s plays, his life in Stratford and historical facts about the town. Created by

Stan’s Cafe. www.rsc.org.uk/events/shakespearesteps 

RSC Shakespeare on Screen, StratforduponAvon Picturehouse 

Until Sunday, 24 April 

Stratford-upon-Avon Picturehouse and the RSC present screenings of some of the

Company’s most admired productions adapted or captured for television and the cinema.  This is a chance to see iconic performances from many of the greatest actors associated with the Company, including Vanessa Redgrave, Paul Scofield, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench and David Tennant.


 Dropin Craft activities  

Saturday, 23 April, 11.30am-4.15pm, Colonnade 

Children can get crafty with special drop-in craft activities throughout the day.  Suitable those under 10. 

 Blood, Guts and Gore

Saturday 23 April, 12pm-12.45pm, Upper Circle Bar

Join former RSC Head of Wigs and Make-up, Brenda Leedham, as she demonstrates the tricks of the trade and how bruises, cuts and scars are created. Suitable for all ages.

 Active Storytelling: Hamlet

Saturday, 23 April, 1pm-1.45pm, Upper Circle Bar

Enjoy being an actor and help to tell the story of Shakespeare’s Prince of Denmark in this special session where a storyteller will lead the way. Suitable for children aged four and over. All children must be accompanied by an adult.


Saturday, 23 April, 2pm-2.45pm, Upper Circle Bar

Come and sing your heart out in a fun and lively session where you’ll learn some simple songs. No musical knowledge required.  Suitable for ages seven plus.

Active Storytelling: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Saturday, 23 April, 3pm-3.45pm, Upper Circle Bar

Become an actor and help tell the story of Shakespeare’s magical play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dress-up and join in with the fun. Suitable for ages four plus.


Well Said!

19 March – 18 September 2016, open from 10am until theatre closes

PACCAR Room, Royal Shakespeare Theatre

A range of famous cultural and literary figures, including award-winning playwright Tanika Gupta MBE, RSC Hamlet lead Paapa Essiedu, and comedian, rapper and actor Doc Brown, have shared their favourite Shakespeare quotes with the RSC.

Meet the Artist 

Saturday, 23 April, 12 noon-1.30pm and again at 2.30pm-3.30pm 

PACCAR Room, Royal Shakespeare Theatre 

Visit our new free exhibition, Well Said!, and meet some of the artists who have created new works of art, inspired by some of Shakespeare’s most famous words. Free, suitable for all ages. No ticket required. 


Stage Fighting  

Saturday, 23 April, 11.45am-12.45pm and again 2.45pm-3.45pm

Learn how the action is created on stage with this special workshop with an RSC expert.  Suitable for adults and young people aged 10 plus. Entry is by ticket only, available from the marquee 15 minutes before the start time on a first come, first served basis. Numbers are limited.

Voice Workshop  

Saturday, 23 April, 1pm-1.45pm

Budding actors looking to get the most out of their voice can enjoy taking part in this specially designed RSC voice workshop. Through exercises and games, youngsters can learn how to use their voice in performance, hear how actors prepare their voice and also get the chance to perform extracts from Shakespeare. Suitable for adults and young people aged 10 and over. Entry is by ticket only, available from the marquee 15 minutes before the start time on a first come, first served basis. Numbers are limited.

Dance Workshop  

Saturday, 23 April, 2pm-2.30pm

Learn the Bergomask Dance from our current production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation. Suitable for adults and young people aged 10 and over. Entry is by ticket only, available from the marquee 15 minutes before the start time on a first come, first served basis. Numbers are limited.


Live Music  

Saturday, 23 April, throughout the day  

Enjoy musical performances in and around our new Swan Theatre Bar, refurbished as part of the heritage restoration of the Grade II listed Swan Wing, the oldest part of the RSC’s theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon.

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