Two theatre companies renowned for their productions of the Bard's work will mark his birthday next Monday (23 April 2007) with a series of events.

In London, the Globe will hold two days of free events on Sunday (22 April) and Monday. On Sunday, members of the public are invited to join a Venetian-style masked procession commencing at 10.30 at Southwark Cathedral and continuing to the Globe, where there will be live music, dance, workshops, food and family games. Visitors will also have the chance to tread the boards on the Globe’s world-famous open air stage, as well as take part in a mask competition.

On Monday, the white walls of the theatre will be turned into silver screens as a series of unique silent film adaptations of Shakespeare's work are projected onto the Globe. Films will have live accompaniment by Laura Rossi and the Fourth Dimension String Quartet. Viewing is from Bankside, with screenings, care of the British Film Institute running 8pm to 10pm.

Meanwhile, the Royal Shakespeare Company is offering everyone the chance to see how much they know about Shakespeare, his plays and the work of the RSC itself, via a special online quiz which will go live on on Monday. Those who take part in the internet brainteaser will have the chance to win a pair of tickets to “The Great Shakespeare Quiz”, a live contest that will take place in Stratford-upon-Avon’s Courtyard Theatre in at 6.15pm on Sunday 29 April 2007, as part of the RSC’s annual Open Day.

With broadcaster and former MP Gyles Brandreth in the quizmaster’s chair, two all-star teams – including Sinead Cusack, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Antony Sher, Donald Sinden, Juliet Stevenson and David Warner - will battle it out to see who knows the Bard the best.

As well as celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday, this year’s Open Day will also signal the official end of the company’s year-long Complete Works Festival (See News, 5 Apr 2007), and mark the last day on which members of the public will have access to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre before its temporary closure as part of the RSC’s transformation project (See News, 19 Apr 2007).

Other Open Day activities, many of which are free, include backstage and workshop tours, practical events for children, a special ‘Wars of the Roses’ York v Lancaster football match, and costume and make-up demonstrations.

Monday is also St George’s Day and, back in London, Pythons Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam will take the opportunity to join the cast of Spamalot in their attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Largest Coconut Orchestra” (See The Goss, 5 Apr 2007). In Trafalgar Square, Jones, Gilliam and the musical’s cast will teach members of the public how to ‘clip-clop’ in time to the Python classic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” prior to the record-breaking attempt which will take place at 7pm. To be assured a pair of exclusive Spamalot coconuts and possibly a place in the history books, you will need to have registered at one of a number of checkpoints in Trafalgar Square by 6.30pm.

- by Terri Paddock