Celebrating the Bard, William Shaekspeare
April 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. With events taking place on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, it’s a great time to celebrate the English-speaking world’s greatest playwright.
Any trip to England should include a stop in Stratford-upon-Avon, about two hours northwest of London, where Shakespeare was born in 1564 and died in 1616. (While the exact date isn’t known, his birthday is traditionally observed on the same day as his death, April 23.) This picturesque town is home to the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as several sites connected to the Bard, including his birthplace and his gravesite at Holy Trinity Church. This month, the schoolroom where Shakespeare was educated will open to visitors. On April 23, Stratford will hold a parade in honor of its most famous son. And don’t pass up an opportunity to see a play. The RSC is presenting “Hamlet” through August 13.
Not to be outdone, London, where Shakespeare found success as a playwright, is staging its own events marking the anniversary.
Shakespeare’s Globe is mounting “The Complete Walk,” an installation of 37 10-minute films, one for each of Shakespeare’s plays, that will be shown April 23 and 24 on screens installed along a 2.5-mile stretch of the River Thames. The films have been shot on locations from Helsingør (Elsinore) Castle in Denmark to the Pyramids of Egypt. The Globe, a replica of the Elizabethan open-air theater where Shakespeare worked, will stage “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from April 30 to September 11. And the British Library presents “Shakespeare in Ten Acts” from April 15 to September 6, a display of costumes and rare artifacts that shows how Shakespeare has been presented over the centuries.
Of course, travelers can celebrate Shakespeare without crossing the Atlantic.
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is home to the world’s largest collection of material relating to Shakespeare and his works. Visitors can view a First Folio—the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays—that was published in 1623. The exhibit “America’s Shakespeare” runs from April 7 to July 24 and examines how his words and ideas have found their way into America’s national story. For an inventive take on the Bard, The Reduced Shakespeare Company will perform at the library from April 21 to May 8. And the library will celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with a free party, including cake, from noon to 4 PM April 24.
Chicago has one of the nation’s most ambitious Shakespeare 400 programs, with major cultural institutions—including theaters, museums, and the symphony—taking part in a yearlong celebration. On April 11, the Art Institute of Chicago unveils “Supernatural Shakespeare,” engravings inspired by the Bard’s most fantastical characters; beginning April 12, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents “Othello: The Remix,” a fresh, urban take on the tragedy; and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performs works inspired by “The Tempest” and “Romeo and Juliet” on several dates.
For help planning a trip to explore the life of Shakespeare, contact us today at 719-597-0004.