Globe, RSC, Rose Celebrate Shakespeare BirthdayDate: 19 April 2004
Two theatre companies renowned for their productions of the Bard's work will this week mark his birthday with a series of events. In London, Shakespeare’s Globe will throw open its doors on the day itself, Friday 23 April 2004; while, in Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company will commemorate the milestone on Sunday 25 April.
The Globe’s festivities will be officially launched at 11.00am on Friday by London mayor Ken Livingstone. In addition to tours of the theatre, there will be the chance to get advice from a member of the company before performing a few lines on the Globe stage - hitherto only trod by professional actors including Paul Scofield and Vanessa Redgrave.
To add an authentic feel to the day, producers Innovision Media and Globe artistic director Mark Rylance have organised a number of street performers - much like there would have been in Shakespeare's day - to roam the surrounding streets. It’s intended that Shakespeare's birthday at the Globe will become an annual event.
Also in London on Friday, at the site of the Rose Theatre - the first Elizabethan theatre on Bankside, where Shakespeare learned his craft – a special marathon reading of Shakespeare’s sonnets will be performed by stand-up comedian and Shakespeare Institute graduate Will Sutton to mark the bard’s birthday. The reading of all 154 sonnets begins at noon.
Two days later, the RSC will hold its own open day in Stratford-upon-Avon. From 11.30am to 5.00pm, the public will be able to learn more about the company via a series of workshops and tours.
Free events include a warm-up session with an RSC voice specialist and movement director, a demonstration from the sound and lighting technicians, backstage tours, talks from all the backstage departments (costume, stage management, technical) as well as a demonstration from RSC fight director Terry King. There are also a number of events specifically aimed at those under 16.
In the RSC extra programme are talks on 'What Shakespeare Did For Us' by artistic director Michael Boyd amongst others, also 'From Stratford to Hollywood:00 Shakespeare' by Toby Stephens and Judi Dench. A series of theatre 'surgeries' will also feature for those interested in getting into the industry, under the headings of acting, voice, directing, casting and writing. Free events are not bookable in advance, but are issued 30 minutes prior to the start time on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Hannah Kennedy