In Stratford-upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company has again teamed up with Shakespeare's Birthplace to put together a weekend of events and activities to celebrate the town's most famous son.
The annual birthday parade will take place on Saturday (24 April) at 10.30am, while other events include performances by RSC actors of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet at various locations around Stratford, as well as workshops, boat-based sonnet readings and street performances (for full details visit rsc.org.uk/birthday).
The birthday celebrations have been an annual fixture in Stratford since 1824, when The Shakespeare Club first organised a procession to Holy Trinity Church followed by a ceremonial dinner. Over the years the tradition grew to include many of the events which are still part of today's celebrations, including the flag ceremony, wearing rosemary for remembrance and the laying of flowers on Shakespeare’s grave.
At the Globe, the open-air venue on London's South Bank modelled on the Shakespearean original, this year's Kings and Rogues season launches this evening, with Elliot Cowan taking the title role in Macbeth.
The season, which “embrace some of the playwright's most regal rogues and some of his most roguish kings”, will also see stagings of Henry VIII and Henry IV parts 1 and 2, all making their premieres at the new Globe.
It's particularly significant that Henry VIII is making a return, as it was during a performance of this play on 29 June 1613 that the original Globe was destroyed. A cannon was fired to provide a sound effect to accompany the entrance of the King, but a spark caught the thatched roof and the resulting flames, fanned by the wind, burned it to the ground.
Elsewhere, The Bard's birthday has been marked with the release of a special online game entitled Shakespeare's Treasure (shakespearestreasure.com), and in Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley has declared today “Talk Like Shakespeare Day”, featuring Shakespeare lookalikes and poetry readings. And for a bit of fun, why not try out this 'Official Shakespearean Insult Kit'.
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