If you are of a mind of shaking at stick at Shakespeare – especially in this Shakespeare 400 celebration year – we would advise you to stock up: there’s more Shakespeare coming up than you can easily shake just the one stick at. Peninsula Arts, Plymouth University is even holding a Celebrating Shakespeare Festival.
A patchwork of Shakespeare is on show in Mr Shakespeare by The Hood Players, it includes ‘sonnets,with music and songs of the period, plus excerpts from many of his plays’. The Hood Players, under the direction of John Platt, have been performing Shakespeare for more than 20 years, and they will be at South Devon Arts on April 13 and April 14.
Romeo and Juliet
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet is at The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, from Wednesday, April 13 to Saturday, April 16. This is a tale of love at first dance where ‘forbidden passions, dangerous secrets and star-crossed fate combine in an exhilarating classic ballet’.
There’s a unique Richard III performance in the form of Brite Theatre’s multi award-winning one-woman show with Emily Carding. Intriguingly, the blurb says “You, the audience, take on the roles of all the other characters at Richard’s party… but will you survive?” Find out at the House, Plymouth on Wednesday, April 20.
The Celebrating Shakespeare Festival kicks off on Friday, April 22 with an introduction by Words and Music Festival founder, Suzanne Sparrow and Peninsula Arts director of music, Simon Ible.
Sounds and Sweet Airs
This is followed on April 22 by ‘Sounds, and Sweet Airs’: Shakespeare’s Words and Music, a talk which explores how big Bill ‘inspired future poets, playwrights and the best English composers – Henry Purcell, Thomas Arne, and Thomas Linley (jnr) – in songs, odes and operas’.
Much Ado About Colouring
Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery is offering the family to get Much Ado About Colouring (April 23). This hands-on Shakespeare 400 event is calling you try your hand at their Shakespeare-themed trail and colouring activities. And there will be a costumed re-enactor to bemuse with selfies.
Shakespeare Gala Concert
Bath composer Thomas Linley the younger (1756 – 1778) was known as the “English Mozart”, and among his surviving works is the Ode on the Spirits of Shakespeare, the Lyric Ode (1776), set to a text by his fellow-Bathonian French Laurence. The work will be included in a Shakespeare Gala Concert from Ten Tors Orchestra and Bath Spa University Choir in a performance of 18th century Bath composers. Along with Linley will be Thomas Arne’s Nine Shakespeare Songs and Henry Purcell’s Incidental music for The Tempest. The performance takes at the Minster Church of St Andrew, Plymouth on Saturday, April 23.
Shakespeare Live from the RSC
Specially for Shakespeare’s birthday (that’s April 23) you can enjoy a live broadcast from the RSC. Hosted by David Tenant, the ‘star-studded show celebrates Shakespeare’s plays and their enduring influence on music, dance, opera, musical theatre and comedy’. The Shakespeare Live event from the RSC is on at the Flavel in Dartmouth, the Exeter Picturehouse and The Landmark Theatre Ilfracombe.
A Shakespearean Anthology of reading, music and songs
The Dartington Playgoers are lighting two lots of candles on Saturday and Sunday April 23 and April 24 with their Shakespearean Anthology of reading, music and songs. Not only are they celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday, but their own 70th anniversary. ‘The gala evening is for those who enjoy a glass of wine; the afternoon matinee will include anniversary cake!’
What are Scurvy songs? you may well ask, and Clive Jenkins will answer as he talks about his three new Shakespeare Songs: Pugging Song, A Scurvy Tune and Freedom, Hey-day! Each was commissioned by Plymouth Shakespeare Society to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. In them, Autolycus sees the chance to nick some bed linen; Stephano drinks to his escape from drowning; Caliban seeks freedom from servitude. The fun takes place on Sunday, April 24 between 2-2.45pm at the Lower Lecture Theatre, Sherwell Centre.
Recital of Shakespeare songs
Just 15 minutes later (on Sunday, April 24), which should give you time to get to the Upper Lecture Theatre at the Sherwell Centre, Plymouth University, the Scurvy Songs make a reappearance at a Recital of Shakespeare Songs. Plymouth-man Clive Jenkins is associate composer-arranger with the Chamber Ensemble of London. Many of his works have West Country themes and along with Clive Jenkins’ Scurvy Songs the programme includes Gerald Finzi: Five Shakespeare Songs, Let us Garlands bring and Roxanna Panufik: Music to Hear.
Bowl cut and a booming voice, does Larry Olivier’s Henry V need an introduction? Filmed in the final push of World War 2, this rousing rendition of a Shakespearean flick will appear at the Jill Craigie Cinema, Plymouth University on Monday, April 25. And as an added bonus there’s in introductory talk Associate Professor of English at Plymouth University Peter Hinds.
Such Sweet Thunder
For those of you interested in ‘a real swinging story’, then pop over to the lecture and performance featuring another great’s relationship with The Bard. Such Sweet Plunder: Or Whose Lie is it Anyway? (April 27) sees Katherine Williams using Duke Ellington’s music to explore the balance of authorial power between composer, bandleader, musicians, improvisers and record producers. This is an introduction to the following performance of Duke Ellington’s 12-part Such Sweet Thunder suite (April 30), but is also an investigation into the music and recordings of the notorious Ellington performance at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival.
The list of stars in Richard Loncraine’s 1995 film of Richard III is enough to have anyone stirring for a bit of winter discontent. Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Jim Broadbent, Robert Downey Jr line up in the adaptation that has moved the action to the 1930s. And as a special treat to accompany this special screening event to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Sir Ian and director Richard will be part of a post-screening discussion broadcast live from BFI Southbank. The action takes place on screen at the Exeter Picturehouse and The Barn, Dartington on Thursday, April 28.
Grigori Kozintsev’s King Lear – with music by Shostakovich (and a Russian translation by poet Boris Pasternak) – is at the Jill Craigie Cinema on May 9, with an introduction by Peter Hinds, Associate Professor of English at Plymouth University, whose ‘talk will consider how the film handles the sensitive subject of political power and the world of poverty and peasants in Brezhnev’s Soviet Union.’
West Side Story
For something a bit more high-kicking and colourful fun, there’s West Side Story. Based on Romeo and Juliet, the musical adaptation picked up 10 Oscars. It’s at the Jill Craigie Cinema on May 16.
Romance, satire, mistaken identity, breeches and music being the food of love are all in Filter’s explosive, exciting and accessible production of Twelfth Night, at the The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth from May 16 to May 21.
The Winter’s Tale
From Wednesday May 25 to Saturday May 28 Exeter’s Cygnet Theatre will present The Winter’s Tale (popping up at the Favel on May 27). Directed by Alistair Ganley, the production promises a playful and accessible production of one of Shakespeare’s late masterpieces: a magical evening of tragedy averted and love redeemed. It goes on tour to Dawlish at the Dawlish Arts Festival on June 2 and Shute, near Axminster on June 3 – plus Farringdon (July 13), Chagford (July 14), Archerfield (July 15), Lympstone (July 16), Eggesford (July 17).
RSC Live Hamlet
On June 8, the Flavel, the Exeter Picturehouse and The Landmark Theatre Ilfracombe are screening a live performance of Hamlet with Paapa Essiedu as the eponymous hero, who ‘confronts each of us with the mirror of our own mortality in an imperfect world’. The performance is directed by Simon Godwin. (Encore at the Exeter Picturehouse on June 14).
Hamlet/All’s Well That Ends Well
Hamlet (June 14 -18) and All’s Well That Ends Well (June 15-18) make an appearance at the Exeter Northcott theatre. Both are presented by Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory and Tobacco Factory Theatre, and both are directed by Andrew Hilton.
Romeo and Juliet
Before she moved into the world of Homeland and he was off battling bears in the woods, Clare Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio were intriguing in Baz Lurhmann’s colourful Rome and Juliet, which will be aired at the bijou Blue Walnut in Torquay on June 16.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
William Shakespeare meets the 1920 in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Barnfield Theatre, Exeter, from June 21 to June 25. With music by George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin, to name but three, the tunes will be played and sung by Music Deco.
The Winter’s Tale
The Actor’s Wheel will be at the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth (June 28), with a re-telling of The Winter’s Tale ‘Shakespeare’s most enigmatic work of love, jealousy and redemption’. The production promises ‘inventive and compelling storytelling by this truly unique ensemble’.
Branagh Theatre Live – Romeo and Juliet
Kenneth Branagh has been renowned for putting Shakespeare on screen, but now he’s putting Romeo and Juliet on stage, for you to watch on screen – how meta is that? His special production with Richard Madden and Lily James as Romeo and Juliet and (hold your breathe) Sir Derek Jacobi as Mercutio is at The Flavel, the Exeter Picturehouse (Encore performance on July 12) and The Landmark Theatre – Ilfracombe on July 7.
Romeo and Juliet
Hot on the heels of its much-lauded A Midsummer Night’s Dream of 2015, the Barbican Theatre are heading alfresco again at Plymouth’s Royal William Yard for their Romeo and Juliet. The production is directed by Barbican Theatre’s artistic director Mark Laville, who said: “We chose Romeo & Juliet because it is a timeless tale of love, rebellion and tragedy. I’m really looking forward to working with our outstanding local actors from the Plymouth area again, to create a performance the whole family will adore.” It will be on from August 5-21.
Shakespeare Ballet Triple Bill
The Birmingham Royal Ballet are back at The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth with a Shakespeare triple bill from Tuesday, October 25 and Wednesday, October 26. ‘Jessica Lang captures the poetry of the sonnets in Wink. José Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane distils the passion and drama of Othello. Love gets out of hand for mortals and fairies alike in an elegant and witty distillation in The Dream.’
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Not everyone can get to The Globe, which is why it’s exciting that Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour presents Two Gentlemen of Verona, which will be calling into the Northcott Theatre from Thursday, September 8 to Sunday September 11. It’s a chaotic, anarchic comedy for the 21st century.
On Thursday, October 27 to Saturday, October 29 Birmingham Royal Ballet stretch their legs to the Tempest. It’s a spellbinding new work from David Bintley.
RSC Live Cymberline
Young lovers, a divided kingdom, intrigue and plotting murder, yet Cymberline is still called a romance. This is a screening of the performance directed by Melly Still, and you can catch it at The Flavel, The Exeter Picturehouse and The Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe on September 28.
RSC Live King Lear
Thank your lucky stars, you can get to see Anthony Sher as King Lear in ’one of the greatest parts written by Shakespeare in this, one of Shakespeare’s most epic and powerful plays, directed by RSC artist director Gregory Doran’. The performance will be satellite streamed to The Flavel, The Exeter Picturehouse and The Landmark Theatre, Ilfracombe on October 12.
If we’ve missed any out, please drop us a line in the comments below!