Many of the celebrations of Shakespeare 400 take place in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he lived for much of his life.
One headline attraction is a contemporary recreation of the playwright and poet’s final dwelling, occupying its original site. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is transforming New Place, the site of Shakespeare’s home for the last 19 years of his life, to create a new heritage landmark where visitors can discover Shakespeare at the height of his success. The project to represent the site will be one of the most significant Shakespearean projects anywhere in the world to commemorate his legacy. Shakespeare wrote 26 of his best-loved plays as owner of New Place. Unfortunately, New Place was demolished in 1759 by its then owner, Reverend Francis Gastrell, who was annoyed by visiting Shakespeare enthusiasts.
The re-imagined New Place is scheduled to open in July, and visitors will discover William the family man, homeowner and successful entrepreneur. Specially-commissioned artworks will evoke a sense of Shakespeare’s domestic life. An archaeological dig at the site has unearthed significant new findings, including the site of Shakespeare’s ‘kitchen’, the great dramatist’s ‘oven’ and ‘fridge’. Furthermore, facsimiles of the cookware will be available for visitors to handle, and will be on display at New Place in the neighbouring Grade I listed Nash’s House (Tudor in origin), which is currently undergoing a major refurbishment as part of the project. www.shakespeare.org.uk
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation RSC tour (March – June 2016) The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) takes its production of this Shakespeare classic to the regions and nations of Britain (central England, west Midlands and east Midlands, north-east England, Scotland, north-west England, Yorkshire, south-east England, east England, south-west England, London, Wales and Northern Ireland).
Reflecting each region’s individuality, a different local amateur company will join the RSC’s professional actors in each location – with a teacher, a pub landlord, a rugby player and an ex-army officer among those playing roles including Quince, Bottom and Snout.
The touring production returns to Stratford-upon-Avon’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre in mid-June, heralded by free activities including The Fairy Portal Camp, a feast of dance, song and fire in Stratford’s Avonbank Gardens led by Slung Low theatre company (19 – 25 June).
Image: © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
For more information: www.shakespeare.org.uk