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London gears up for year-long Shakespeare celebrations

Date Posted: 16/01/2014

The Globe auditorium.

Pictured: Audiences watch a Shakespeare production at The Globe Theatre.

This year marks the 450th anniversary since the birth of Britain’s favourite Bard, William Shakespeare. The capital will be celebrating with special events throughout 2014, and there’s a host of opportunities for school groups to get involved.

Whether it’s organising a school trip to a performance of Hamlet which opens on 23rd April at Shakespeare’s Globe before going on tour, or visiting an exhibition dedicated to his life at the V&A, there’s plenty to keep students entertained and educated.

Here’s how these London attractions will be celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday in 2014:

Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside

The open air theatre’s 2014 season will mark Shakespeare’s special anniversary with new productions of Antony & Cleopatra, Julius Caesar and The Comedy of Errors. 

A world tour of Hamlet, Globe to Globe, will begin at Shakespeare’s Globe on 23rd April and tour every country in the world over a two-year period. 

A new indoor theatre will also open at the Globe named after its founder – the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Opening this month, the candlelit venue’s first performance will be The Duchess of Malfi.

Open all year round, the Globe Exhibition & Tour gives children on a school trip the opportunity to learn more about the building itself, as well as its most famous playwright.

Based under the Globe Theatre, the exhibition explores the life of Shakespeare, the London where he lived and the theatre for which he wrote.

Middle Temple Hall

The first performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is said to have taken place in Middle Temple Hall in 1602, with Queen Elizabeth I in attendance.

Middle Temple Hall remains virtually unaltered since completion in the 1570s and is described as one of the finest Elizabethan Halls in the country.

From the moment you arrive onto the cobbles of the lantern-lit Middle Temple Lane, students will feel as though they have stepped back in time. Guided tours must be booked in advance by contacting the Events Department here.

Middle Temple Hall.

Pictured: Middle Temple Hall is reportedly where the first performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night took place.

Victoria & Albert Museum

An immersive installation at the V&A, Shakespeare: Our Greatest Living Playwright, will examine the enduring influence and popularity of the world’s most famous poet.

Drawing together objects from the V&A’s collection and interviews with key contemporary practitioners, Shakespeare: Our Greatest Living Playwright runs from 8th February to 28th September.

The exhibition examines how Shakespeare’s plays have travelled across centuries and continents to be used as a springboard for theatrical re-imaginings and interpretation.

London City Walks

London City Walks takes Shakespeare and Dickens students back in time visiting half-timbered Elizabethan dwellings and the early 16th-century gatehouse where the Bard took his plays to the offices of the Elizabethan Master of the Revels.

The meeting point for the walks is at St. Paul’s underground station. Tours run every Wednesday at 11am, but school trip organisers can contact London City Walks directly to discuss their individual requirements.

The Rose Theatre

When it was erected in 1587, The Rose was only the fifth purpose-built theatre in London, and the first on Bankside – an area already rich in other leisure attractions such as brothels, gaming dens and bear-baiting arenas.

Shakespeare’s plays performed at the theatre included Henry VI part I and Titus Andronicus, but once The Globe was built, the Rose disappeared into history in 1603.

In 1989 the archaeological site of the Rose was discovered and since then a long campaign to rebuild the theatre has been underway. School groups can now attend performances at the theatre, including Richard III from 1st to 26th April, and student discounts are available.

Shakespeare in Love, Noel Coward Theatre, St Martin’s Lane

Seven times Academy Award® winning film Shakespeare in Love is to be adapted for the stage and will start its run at the Noel Coward Theatre this summer.

Shakespeare in Love poster.

Pictured: Shakespeare in Love will open at the Noel Coward theatre this summer.

The play will tell the tale of how, plagued by debt, tormented by writer’s block and in desperate need of a new hit, promising new playwright Shakespeare finds his muse in the form of passionate young noblewoman, Viola De Lesseps.

Their forbidden love soon draws everyone, including Queen Elizabeth I herself, into the drama and inspires him to write one of the greatest love stories of all time, Romeo and Juliet.

School trip organisers will be able to book tickets for Shakespeare in Love from February.

For further school trip information visit www.visitlondon.com.

These ideas were generated by London & Partners; for more information visit www.londonandpartners.com.    

School Travel Organiser's Guide