Shakespeare's Birthday Weekend at the RSC

21 March 2013

As part of Stratford-upon-Avon's annual Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations, taking place on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 April, the Royal Shakespeare Company launches In Stitches, a new, free costume exhibition. Families will also be able to enjoy a range of theatre activities on Saturday 20 April.

In Stitches celebrates the RSC's extraordinary costume collection. It opens on Saturday 20 April with Into The Wild, an exclusive chance to see 35 rarely displayed costumes, including many worn by some of the RSC's best known actors, including Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench and David Tennant. Taking place in the PACCAR Room in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Into The Wild explores how costume designers and makers have responded to themes of nature in Shakespeare's work.

In Stitches runs until Spring 2014 throughout the RSC's Stratford theatres. Other elements of the exhibition include Costume Craft, opening on 4 May, which follows the journey of how a costume is made by the RSC Costume Department.

As part of the Birthday Celebrations on Saturday 20 April the RSC will also offer a range of free activities for the whole family, including storytelling sessions, stage fighting workshops and the chance to discover how fake scars and bruises are created. Visitors will also be able go on theatre tours, enjoy music in the foyer areas, and explore the 36 metre high Theatre Tower. Full details below.

The RSC's programme of events is only part of the weekend's celebrations, which also include the annual Birthday Procession on Saturday 20 April.

Activities taking place in and around the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on Saturday 20 April 

Music in the foyers of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
11.15am-1pm and 4.15-6pm - FREE
including Balkan Gypsy rhythms and a vocal quartet singing English Madrigals.

Family craft activities on the Bancroft terrace, in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
11.30am-4pm - FREE
Simple arts activities for under 10s, giving everyone the chance to make a simple Yorick skull, Ophelia's flowers, a Shakespearean finger puppet, or sign the RSC's birthday card for Shakespeare.

Workshops for families and children in the Ferguson Room, Swan Theatre
All of the four sessions below are free, last approx 45-60 minutes and tickets are available on the door 15 mins before the start time on a first come, first served basis.

Blood, Guts and Gore
11.30am – 12.15pm - FREE
Former RSC Head of Wigs and Make-up, Brenda Leedham demonstrates how to create fake bruises, cuts and scars. Willing participants will be required!
Suitable for all ages.

Active Storytelling - The Winter's Tale
12.30 – 1.15pm - FREE
An opportunity for those aged between 3-8 to become an actor and tell the story of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale.
Suitable for 3-8 year olds.

Family Workshop - As You Like It
1.30 – 2.30pm - FREE
A practical, active and fun workshop for children (7+) and their families to introduce and explore Shakespeare's As You Like It together.
Suitable for ages 7+

Stage Fighting session
2.45 – 3.45pm - FREE
A chance to learn how to pull a punch in this stage fighting workshop and demonstration. Suitable for ages 7+

Storytelling with Sally Pomme Clayton in the Swan Reading Room
These sessions are free and last 30-40 minutes. Tickets are available on the door 15 mins before the start of each session, on a first come, first served basis.

Greek Myths: Stories of Sun, Stone and Sea
11.45am-12.25pm and 1.45-2.25pm - FREE
Dynamic Performance storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton brings the mysterious world of ancient Greek myths to life, telling the dramatic stories of Zeus and Athena, Perseus and Medusa, and the flying horse Pegasus. A chance to learn some Greek words, meet gods and goddesses, consult the oracle, and ponder on the moral choices of the characters.
For family audiences of children aged 5 +.

Tales of Venus
6 -6.30pm - FREE
Venus was washed ashore on a sea shell, how did she get there? All the gods fell in love with her, and she had affairs with most of them, but what happened when she fell in love herself? Find out how the Goddess of Love and Beauty still spreads desire in this humorous, magical performance for adults by performance storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton.
For anyone aged 14 and over.

Theatre skills workshops marquee in the Swan Gardens

All sessions are free, last 1 hour and are suitable for adults and young people aged 11+
Tickets are available on the door 15 mins before the start time on a first come, first served basis.

Stage Fighting
11.30am-12.30pm - FREE
A chance to learn how to pull a punch in this stage fighting workshop and demonstration.

12.45-1.45pm - FREE
An opportunity to work with an RSC Movement practitioner and experience the type of movement work RSC actors undergo in order to perform on RSC stages.

2-3pm - FREE
Time to sing in this workshop with an RSC Voice practitioner.

3.15-4.15pm - FREE
A session with an RSC voice practitioner offering a simple warm up and a first look at a Shakespeare text.

Sonnet Ferry
12noon - 4pm – 50p, pay at the sonnet ferry across from The Dirty Duck pub on the day
Enjoy the sounds of Shakespeare's sonnets spoken by RSC actors on a trip across the river.

Theatre tours
There is a Behind The Scenes theatre tour* at 9.15am and Front of House theatre tours* at 10.30am and 4.45pm. The Tower*, offering panoramic views of Stratford, is open between 10.00am-12.20pm and 4.30-6.40pm.

*Theatre tours and The Tower incur a charge.

Geraldine Collinge, Director of Events and Exhibitions at the RSC, said:
“Shakespeare's Birthday is always a special time of year, enjoyed by the many thousands who flock to the town to celebrate the world's most famous playwright. This year we're delighted to be opening In Stitches, our new costume exhibition which showcases treasures from our Collection. Throughout the history of the RSC, the company has always made its own costumes, and In Stitches will be a chance to take both a closer look at them, and at the craftsmanship that goes into making them.”

More information can be found at and


For more press information please contact:
Dean Asker
RSC Press Office
01789 412660, 0778 9937759

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