Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday

The Royal Shakespeare Company will celebrate Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon with days-long celebrations.

Taking inspiration from Ben Jonson’s ‘Star of Poets’ description of William Shakespeare, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will launch its Shakespeare birthday festivities with a fireworks display from the top of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre after the evening performance of Henry IV Part I on Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, April 23, 2014. Emergency Exit Arts, one of Britain’s best and most experienced providers of pyrotechnics, will create this special anniversary event.

That’s not the only special event in store.

On Saturday, April 26 the RSC will offer a range of free activities for all ages, including storytelling sessions, stage fighting workshops and the chance to discover how fake scars and bruises are created. There will also be theatre tours, live musical performances, and much more.

The Celebrations will feature an appearance by Godiva, a six-metre tall mechanical puppet, created by Imagineer Productions for the Cultural Olympiad in 2012. Godiva will arrive in Stratford on Friday, April 25, spending the night at Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Henley Street before leading the community parade on Saturday, April 26. In the afternoon Godiva will be joined by The Humming Bird. This mechanical bird, capable of flying one and half kilometres, will make its inaugural flight in an outdoor performance. Godiva’s visit to Stratford as part of the Birthday Celebrations has been supported by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the RSC.

The RSC is also working with community artist Georgia Jacob and four organizations based in Stratford to produce an addition to the community parade on Saturday, April 26. Each group will produce a carnival-style prop, such as a large puppet, based on a character from Shakespeare which will be carried on the processional route. After the Birthday Celebrations the pieces will be hung in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre during the summer. This activity has been enabled by funding from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s Reach Out And Help Partner Fund, and is supported by Stratford Town Trust.

Geraldine Collinge, Director of Events and Exhibitions at the RSC, said, “2014 is the 450th Birthday of Shakespeare, and I am really excited about what the town and the RSC has planned to mark this very special year. Here at the RSC we’ll be lighting up the sky on Shakespeare’s actual birthday, Wednesday, April 23, with what promises to be a magnificent firework display.

“And then over the Birthday Celebrations weekend, we’ll be offering myriad opportunities to participate. I am sure the town will be buzzing throughout the week, and I encourage everyone to come and soak up the very special atmosphere of the Birthday Celebrations.”

Activities on Saturday, April 26

Music in the Foyers of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
From 11.15am – 1pm, and 4.15 until 6pm – FREE
Including Balkan Gypsy rhythms and English Madrigals

Theatre Skills Workshops

All of the sessions below are free, last approximately 45-60 minutes and tickets are available on the day, 15 minutes before the start time on a first come, first served basis. They will be held in the Marquee in the Swan Gardens.

Stage Fighting
12.00– 1pm – FREE
Learn how to pull a punch in this active workshop and demonstration of stage fighting techniques.

1.15 – 2pm – FREE
Sing your heart out in this workshop with an RSC Voice practitioner.

2.15 – 3.15pm – FREE
A chance to experience the type of movement work RSC actors undergo in order to perform on our stages.

3.30 – 4.15 pm – FREE
Take part in a simple warm up and have a go at bringing Shakespeare’s text to life in a fun and energetic session with one of our voice practitioners.

More Information…

Royal Shakespeare Company activities

All Shakespeare Birthday Celebration activities

Shakespeare’s England

– Text & image of Shakespeare’s birthplace courtesy Visit Britain

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