Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

Shakespeare's Birthday Fireworks

Join us on Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday on 23 April for a magnificent free firework display.

Taking inspiration from Ben Jonson’s description of William Shakespeare as our ‘Star of Poets’,  we will launch our Shakespeare birthday festivities with a free fireworks display from the top of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Emergency Exit Arts, one of the country’s leading pyrotechnic creatives, brings you a stunning display inspired by Shakespeare’s greatest themes – love, treachery, joy, conflict and life’s triumph over death. The display will conclude with an astonishing depiction of Shakespeare’s face, lit up in flames.

Alive with music and sound, Stratford-upon-Avon will be spectacularly illuminated from our Waterside home.

Arrive at the Bancroft Gardens from 10.30pm.
The display will start at approximately 10.40pm.

There are still tickets available for Henry IV Part I on 23 April – why not go along to the show beforehand?

Find out more about the Fireworks

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Those of you familiar with the Shakespeare properties, may be interested to know that the Time Team filmed at the New Place excavations is being shown this Sunday, March 11th on Channel 4 at 8pm.

There was brief coverage of the excavation when they were here filming but this will be the first time the complete programme is broadcast.

The press announcement from Channel 4 reads:

Sunday, 11/03/2012 8pm Searching for Shakespeare’s House: A Time Team Special Tony Robinson and the Time Team cameras join archaeologists as they dig the site of William Shakespeare’s house, New Place, in Stratford on Avon. There’s little of it above ground now, but records show it was Tudor Stratford’s biggest private home, with up to 20 rooms. However, in 1702, New Place was demolished to make way for a grand Georgian pile. But, with the site now accessible, the archaeologists aim to show for the first time not only where Shakespeare really did live with his family but also how grand his house was.

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Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 August

Join Tanika Gupta for a weekend of explosive play readings by lady dramatists and a provocative on stage discussion with guests including Harriet Walter, April De Angelis, Adjoa Andoh, Rosin McBrinn and Ola Animashawun.

Only 23% of Shakespeare’s characters are female and they occupy 17% of stage time. We still see a similar ratio on our stages across the theatre industry.

Did Shakespeare set an unbreakable template? Have female dramatists managed to redress the balance?

Find out more – http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/events/rsc50/tanika-gupta.aspx

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BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night joins in the RSC’s 50th Birthday celebrations with music from some of the many films, musicals, ballets and operas inspired by Shakespeares plays. With members of the RSC performing some of the most famous soliloquies from his plays and the 60 piece BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Roderick Dunk, the programme features music ranging from Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Verdi’s Ballet Macbeth, William Walton’s Henry V and Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet; to Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, Rodgers and Harts The Boys From Syracuse, West Side Story and the film Shakespeare in Love’.

Presented by Samantha Bond, the concert was recorded at the Mermaid Theatre last Saturday – and will be broadcast this Friday evening (10th June.) RSC ensemble members and alumni involved in the recording include: Greg Hicks, Susannah Fielding, Brian Doherty, Rupert Evans, Desmond Barrit, Darrell D’Silva, Brian Doherty and Noma Dumezweni.

 Radio 2 are also producing an interval feature which includes interviews with John Woolf talking about RSC music, Dennis Kelly on Matilda, The Musical, Cis Berry about voice work, Greg Doran on the RSC and Cardenio, Jonathan Slinger on Macbeth and The Homecoming and acting for the RSC, and Jacqui O’Hanlon on the RSC’s Education work.

 It’s Pick of the week in this week’s Radio Times…

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Look out for a new series on Sky Arts 1 beginning Saturday 28th May
In love with Shakespeare – a series of short films throughout May and June in which renowned actors recite their favourite Shakespeare monologues. The first 30 minute film on Saturday whisks through who is doing what. Afterwards there appear to be 5 minute slots at 1.55pm starting Wednesday 1st June.
Names include Samuel West, Catherine Tate, John Simm, Robert Lindsay, Simon Callow and Stephen Campbell-Moore (Friends, Romans, Countrymen).

For full details look at:

Although this is hardly a prime time spot perhaps the films will also be available online?
by Susan Finch

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I went to watch C.P.Taylor’s script-in-hand reading of Good on Sunday. Accompanied by two Stratford ladies who both originally came from Germany, we were all very moved by this brilliant reading of the award winning play. Having lived in Germany for several years I know how since the end of the horrible Nazi times the citizens have constructed one of the most decent countries in the world, the cornerstone of a peace which has lasted in Western Europe ( if not elsewhere) for the 66 years I have been alive. This has been achieved despite the physical ruin and moral degradation that the country had in 1945. Basically the people of Germany believe in peace but are aware of the 12 year or so madness in their history. And they are not complacent and that is where this wonderful play is so important .

The cast were excellent and the music superb. Tom Goodman-Hill, as Halder, was outstanding and he told us afterwards that there will be a production of the play in Manchester which sadly he won’t be able to be in-he was asked- but because of other work has had to decline. It is such a pity.

The play is all about the nature of evil; it is both intelligent and serious and shows how humane people can be drawn into terrible situations. It is a warning to us all not to be complacent about evil and we must all hope mankind will not be led into a nuclear holocaust which C.P.Taylor and many of us fear. The timing of this play could not be more perfect and what it makes me appreciate is how Mr. Taylor shared the humanitarian views of Shakespeare.

Thank you RSC for presenting this and allowing us the opportunity to be there.

The Merchant of Venice –Monday 16th May, RST.

Bravo Rupert Goold for presenting this adaptation which was inspired by John Logan. In our modern world where we need to be reminded constantly about the dangers of pigeon-holing people, this production certainly makes one think and examine hypocrisy. Clearly the brilliant Patrick Stewart had researched his role so well despite his extensive experience of playing the character.

 I was very impressed, also, with Howard Charles as Gratiano (the real villain). It is a very difficult part. Susannah Fielding in her RSC debut was superb as Portia and like it or not Jamie Beamish as Launcelot(Elvis) made Shakespeare’s usually gloomy Fool help to make the play a great success. And it is still only in preview, can’t wait to see it again when they will have ironed out some technical matters.

Now if they take the play across the pond, they might have to change Vegas for Blackpool- now there is a thought. Will the Americans understand the Lancashire Fylde accent?

Congratulations RSC, the entire cast and production team.

by David Stevens

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On Tuesday 30th November, my mum and I joined a group of 700 RSC supporters and patrons for a special preview event at the new Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Everything about the Theatre invites you in, asks you to explore, welcomes you.  We were happy to wander through the building enjoying the ambience and the decor.  We loved the shop, the bars, the Fountain Courtyard with its beautiful spiral staircase and we had a great time looking at the art installations, pictures and memories from the RST archives.

The Reading Room next to the Swan Bar housed a poet’s work-in-progress.  Visitors were asked to add their memories of the RST to post-it notes and sheets of paper and it was lovely to read so many memories from many, many years ago.  In the corner of the Reading Room is the ‘Insult Chair’, a brilliant invention that shouts out a Shakespearian insult when you sit in it – we got: ‘your bum is the most part of you!’, not much you can say to that…

Upstairs in the Swan Room, an exhibition called ‘Transformations’ brought us the story of the building project through words, pictures, miniature models of the theatre, seat design and even upholstery choices.  It’s clear, when you look around this exhibition, just how much research and hard work went into turning a dream into reality, an incredible achievement.

Old production photographs have been enlarged to hang on walls and an installation called ‘Ghosts in the Walls’ projected a wonderful selection of black and white images from the RST archives onto the walls in the main theatre building, brought to life with quotes from the plays.

‘My RSC Gallery’ is a fascinating installation created by the public, schools, RSC staff and actors.  All around the theatre are 50 small boxes built into the walls.  Lift the lid and a miniature picture, image or collage is underneath.  Of the ones I found, my favourite: ‘Gleanings from the front row of the stalls’ by Valerie Thompson was a fascinating collection of false nails, feathers, documents, buttons and other small objects that had ended up in the stalls.  The narrative told us from which play and year each piece had been collected.

The focus of the evening was a specially produced ‘Masque for the New Theatre’. Traditionally put on in court in Shakespeare’s time, a masque was a way of celebrating a new theatre opening.  Director Gregory Doran had developed a brilliant and very funny one-off performance featuring Richard McCabe, Antony Sher, Simon Trinder, Rebecca Johnson, Alexandra Gilbreath and Claire Benedict that showcased the incredible, new main theatre stage.  We experienced thunder, lightening, fire, snow and rain and discovered the beauty of the thrust stage and seating that allows you to see from anywhere in the theatre.

Sitting in the audience on Tuesday evening, all the passion, enthusiasm and sheer hard work that went into bringing this project to fruition was clear to see.  The building is a triumph, the theatre superb.  Everything has been carefully and cleverly conceived – it’s no longer just a theatre, it’s Shakespeare’s home and legacy.  If he only knew, I’m sure he would be delighted and oh so proud!

Jane Nead

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I am not one for rushing time away, but we cannot escape the fact that it is seven weeks to Christmas. Our splendid shop at The Courtyard (and I am sure we are ALL looking forward to the new shop in our new theatre) provides a wealth of  ideas for gifts and stocking fillers, especially when it comes to books.

At present, you may purchase three of the finest books available written about acting, and especially for the RSC. They are:

YEAR OF THE KING by Sir Antony Sher – a now classic account of  preparation and rehearsals for Richard III during the 1984 season, as well as some insights into other roles such as the Fool and Tartuffe.

EXIT PURSUED BY A BADGER by Nick Asbury – a marvellous account of what it was like to be part of the Histories Ensemble during 2006/8.

SOMETHING WRITTEN IN THE STATE OF DENMARK by Keith Osborn -an equally fascinating account of playing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet and Love’s Labour’s Lost during the 2008 season.

What you have in these outstanding  books is a wonderful insight into being part of the RSC at a particular time in the history of the Company plus some fascinating “warts and all” anecdotes.

I DO hope that one of our current ensemble might have the time to eventually put pen to paper, as it were, to write a similar account of the past two seasons, not forgetting the one to come when we could have a historic account of  what it was like to be in the first productions of Shakespeare in the new RST.

Ah well, perhaps that is a treat in store. Meanwhile, the books already mentioned provide a treat ,and moments of pure nostalgia ,each time you dip into them. Buy them as seasonal gifts for those who love theatre and if YOU haven’t got copies, spoil yourself at the same time !

Tony Boyd-Williams

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Wed 13 – Fri 15 Oct, 8pm

Post Show Discussion Thu 14 Oct

Tickets £12 (£9)



The Point, Eastleigh & mac present

Song of the Goat Theatre


Beginning its life during the RSC’s complete works season and created over two years, this ground-breaking production of Macbeth re-imagines Shakespeare’s tale of murder and madness through an intricately crafted combination of text, movement and polyphonic song.


Presented by an international ensemble of eight extraordinary performers, the production explores the musicality and muscularity of Shakespeare’s poetry and the colours and sounds of his extraordinary language. The story is there, the characters are there, but in witnessing the drama realised through a uniquely imaginative physical and vocal language we understand the story anew.


For more information or to book tickets call 0121 446 3232 or visit www.macarts.co.uk

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Words, Words, Words

Following Jane’s post about things to do while the theatre is “dark” for a few weeks, I thought some of you might like to amuse yourselves by taking a look at, and perhaps adding comments to, two blogs about Shakespeare which have been created during the summer by two of our departments at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. One is http://findingshakespeare.co.uk/ by the Collections team (which consists of the staff of the Shakespeare Centre Library & Archive and the Museums Department). The other is http://bloggingshakespeare.com/ by the Education department, which inevitably includes many references to RSC productions. The latter blog includes a description of the lovely event which Greg Doran did for us in July as part of the Poetry Festival, at which he shared some of his favourite pieces from Shakespeare and other writers – http://bloggingshakespeare.com/shakespeare-and-i-greg-doran. There is also one about the discussion between Stanley Wells and Michael Billington at the RSC Summer School – http://bloggingshakespeare.com/not-what-we-ought-to-say-about-the-r-s-c – which you may find quite contentious.

And if you are still stuck for something to do, why not visit the Library & Archive in Henley Street which I’m sure you know includes the RSC Archive. We would be delighted to welcome you – you can look at materials from your favourite productions such as prompt books, programmes, reviews, photos and archive video/DVD recordings of productions since 1982. Images of productions are now arriving in digital form and are available to see in the reading room on our joint RSC/SBT image database. Prior booking is not essential except for video viewing, although it is helpful to ask in advance for materials you would like to see as they have to be fetched from our strongrooms. There is a small charge to view videos, otherwise we do not charge for using us. For further information including contact details see http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/content/view/19/19/

Jo Wilding

User Services Librarian, Shakespeare Centre Library & Archive, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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