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The RSC celebrates Shakespeare's birthday

The Royal Shakespeare Company will mark Shakespeare’s birthday on Saturday 23 April 2016 and the 400th anniversary of his death with a huge range of events, both in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon, across the UK and around the world.  Television viewers will be able to join in the celebrations with a special programme broadcast live on BBC Two from the RSC. 


Events include a film festival, an exhibition celebrating favourite Shakespearean quotes, a new self-guided tour of Stratford, and, on Shakespeare’s birthday itself, a wealth of free family activities and a fantastic fireworks display.


Family friendly activities around the RSC’s Stratford theatres, Saturday 23 April, 11.30am-4.15pm, including a special acrobatic show at 2pm and 4pm, and fireworks at 10pm. FREE.

As part of the Birthday Celebrations on Saturday 23 April, the RSC will offer a range of free activities for the whole family, including live music, stage fighting workshops and the popular
Blood, Guts and Gore demonstration, which shows how fake scars and bruises are created.

There will also be workshops introducing some of Shakespeare’s most well-known characters, how to approach a script, and simple games and exercises actors use to warm up.


RSC experts will also be on hand to help young people and adults find out more about a number of theatre skills, such as Stage Fighting and Voice work.  All these free sessions 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.  More information and timetable will be available in March.


At 2pm and 4pm in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre acrobatic theatre company, Mimbre presents Wondrous Strange.  The specially-commissioned 30 minute performances will see Shakespeare’s most iconic characters in unexpected encounters, celebrating the physical and visual imagery of some of the best known moments in his plays.

To round off the day, at around 10pm, there will be a free public fireworks display outside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.


RSC Shakespeare on Screen, Stratford-upon-Avon Picturehouse
Tuesday 19 – Sunday 24 April 2016

Stratford-upon-Avon Picturehouse and the RSC present screenings of some of the Company’s most admired productions adapted or captured for television and the cinema.  This is a chance to see iconic performances from many of the greatest actors associated with the Company, including Vanessa Redgrave, Paul Scofield, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench and David Tennant.

These screen versions, some of which have been seen only rarely since they were produced, showcase the work of some of the RSC’s most significant directors, including Peter Brook, Trevor Nunn and Gregory Doran.

Tuesday 19 April, 6pm
As You Like It, BBC TV, 1963 with Vanessa Redgrave and Patrick Allen. £10.50.

Wednesday 20 April, 12noon
The Wars of the Roses: Richard III, BBC TV, 1965 with Ian Holm, Janet Suzman, Peggy Ashcroft and David Warner. £9.50.

Thursday 21 April, 3pm
King Lear, 1971 with Paul Scofield, £9.50.

Friday 22 April, 12noon
Macbeth, Thames, 1979 with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench. £9.50.

Saturday 23 April, 2.30pm
RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon: Richard II, 2013 with David Tennant, Michael Pennington, Jane Lapotaire and Oliver Ford Davies. £10.50.

Sunday 24 April, 2.30pm
RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 2014 with Mark Arends, Michael Marcus, Pearl Chanda, Sarah MacRae. £10.50.

Tickets on sale from Wednesday 13 January from Picturehouse Box Office on 0871 902 5741 or


Well Said! Paccar Room, Royal Shakespeare Theatre
19 March – 18 September 2016, open from 10am until theatre closes. FREE

A range of famous cultural and literary figures, including award-winning playwright Tanika Gupta MBE, forthcoming RSC Hamlet lead Paapa Essiedu, and comedian, rapper and actor Doc Brown, have shared their favourite Shakespeare quotes with the RSC. The exhibition also includes a quote chosen by Ayann, a year six pupil from Clifton Primary School in Birmingham.  Ayann chose the quote she recited on the RSC’s Swan stage during a performance festival featuring young people from across the country.

The family friendly exhibition will offer another way of experiencing some of the most famous words in the English language, interpreted by a number of the UK’s most talented artists and craftspeople using a range of disciplines and artistic mediums. Among the artists whose new work will be exhibited are illustrator and printmaker Lara Harwood, Islamic calligrapher Soraya Syed, and composer and sound sculpture artist James Bulley.


Shakespeare Steps – a self-guided tour of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Opening 30 January 2016 and running throughout the year and the Birthday period. FREE.

The RSC has commissioned a brand new, fun self-guided tour to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Shakespeare Steps is devised by Birmingham based theatre company Stan’s Cafe, and invites people to follow in the footsteps of the world’s most famous playwright.

The free self-guided tour, which involves eight locations, will run alongside Stratford’s historic spine. At each stop visitors can follow footsteps and speech bubbles painted on pavements that work as instructions for acting out mini dramas. The self-guided tour is inspired by Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It, and brings to life aspects of Shakespeare’s plays, his life in Stratford and historical facts about the town. The tour launches on 30 January and a free map will also be available to guide visitors, giving them historical background and a treasure hunt challenge for children.

In association with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall and supported by the Stratford Society and Guild Chapel - Shakespeare Steps starts at Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Some of the locations include Shakespeare’s New Place, Guildhall, and Holy Trinity Church before finishing at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation
The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 April

Opening in Stratford-upon-Avon in February 2016, A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation will tour to all 12 regions and nations of the UK.  In each area the professional cast will be joined by a local amateur company to play Bottom and the mechanicals.  During the birthday week, the production, directed by RSC Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman, will visit The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, where the mechanicals will be played by The Canterbury Players. Tickets: 01227 787787 and

King & Country: Shakespeare’s Great Cycle of Kings
Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, USA
Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York
24 March – 1 May, including performances during the week of Shakespeare’s birthday

Following performances in the UK and China, RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran directs King & Country, Shakespeare’s History play tetralogy comprising Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II, and Henry V in repertoire as part of an exclusive season in the US at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The company includes Jasper Britton (Henry IV), Alex Hassell (Hal/Henry V), Jane Lapotaire (Duchess of Gloucester/Queen Isobel), Antony Sher (Falstaff) and David Tennant (Richard II).
J.P. Morgan is the Global Tour Premier Partner for all four productions.


The Shakespeare Show (working title)
Saturday 23 April, broadcast live on BBC Two from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Transmission time TBC
A special evening event hosted by David Tennant, celebrating Shakespeare’s legacy across all the arts, in collaboration with the BBC.  Owing to the live filming tickets are not on sale, but a very limited number of free tickets will be available via a ballot.  RSC Supporters, Members and those living in the CV37 postcode area can apply to be part of a ballot.  Further information to follow in January.


For more press information and images please contact:
Dean Asker, RSC Press Office
01789 412660,

Notes to editors

The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world.  We produce an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers. 


Everyone at the RSC - from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians - plays a part in creating the world you see on stage.  All our productions begin life at our Stratford workshops and theatres and we bring them to the widest possible audience through our touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity. So wherever you experience the RSC, you experience work made in Shakespeare’s home town. 


We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre.  We reach 530,000 children and young people annually through our education work, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online.  Registered charity no. 212481


The RSC Acting Companies are generously supported by THE GATSBY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION and THE KOVNER FOUNDATION


The RSC is supported using public funding by Arts Council England


Henry V is supported by MARK PIGOTT KBE


Live from Stratford-upon-Avon is generously supported by SIDNEY E. FRANK FOUNDATION

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