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The Royal Shakespeare Company Celebrates Shakespeare's 450th Birthday with Fireworks and Weekend Long Activities

The Royal Shakespeare Company Celebrates Shakespeare's 450th Birthday with Fireworks and Weekend Long Activities

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will celebrate Shakespeare's 450th birthday this year with a spectacular firework display on Wednesday 23 April (Shakespeare's actual birthday).

Later that week, on Saturday 26 April and as part of Stratford-upon-Avon's weekend-long annual Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations, the RSC will also offer a range of free family theatre activities.

Fireworks, Wednesday 23 April

Taking inspiration from Ben Jonson's 'Star of Poets' description of William Shakespeare, the RSC will launch its Shakespeare birthday festivities with a fireworks display from the top of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre after the evening performance of Henry IV Part I. Emergency Exit Arts, one of the country's best and most experienced providers of pyrotechnics, will create this special anniversary event.

Activities around the RSC's theatres on Saturday 26 April

As part of the Birthday Celebrations on Saturday 26 April the RSC will 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 Celebrations will also feature an appearance by Godiva, a six metre tall mechanical puppet, created by Imagineer Productions for the Cultural Olympiad in 2012. Godiva will arrive in Stratford on Friday 25 April, spending the night at Shakespeare's Birthplace in Henley Street before leading the community parade on Saturday 26 April. In the afternoon Godiva will visit the Bancroft Gardens where she will be joined by her future lifelong companion, The Humming Bird. This mechanical bird, capable of flying one and half kilometres, will make its inaugural flight in an outdoor performance. Godiva's visit to Stratford as part of the Birthday Celebrations has been supported by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the RSC.

The RSC is also working with community artist, Georgia Jacob and four organisations based in Stratford (listed in Notes to Editors) to produce an exciting addition to the community parade on Saturday 26 April. Each group will produce a carnival-style prop, such as a large puppet, based on a character from Shakespeare which will be carried on the processional route. After the Birthday Celebrations the pieces will be hung in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre during the summer. This activity has been enabled by funding from the Citizen's Advice Bureau's Reach Out And Help Partner Fund, and is supported by Stratford Town Trust.

Geraldine Collinge, Director of Events and Exhibitions at the RSC, said:
"2014 is the 450th Birthday of Shakespeare, and I am really excited about what the town and the RSC has planned to mark this very special year. Here at the RSC we'll be lighting up the sky on Shakespeare's actual birthday, Wednesday 23 April, with what promises to be a magnificent firework display.

"And then over the Birthday Celebrations weekend, we'll be offering families myriad opportunities to participate in a range of practical theatre activities. If you want to find out more about stage fighting or how we create theatrical cuts and bruises, then make sure you come and visit us. I'm also delighted that Godiva will be making a trip from Coventry to Stratford. She's an amazing sight and - along with the carnival items groups from Stratford will be making with Community Artist, Georgia Jacob - will be an exciting addition to the community parade. I am sure the town will be buzzing throughout the week, and I encourage everyone to come and soak up the very special atmosphere of the Birthday Celebrations."

ACTIVITIES TAKING PLACE IN AND AROUND THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE ON SATURDAY 26 APRIL:

MUSIC IN THE FOYERS OF THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE
From 11.15am - 1pm, and 4.15 until 6pm - FREE
Including Balkan Gypsy rhythms and English Madrigals

FAMILY CRAFT ACTIVITIES ON THE BANCROFT TERRACE, IN FRONT OF THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE
From 11.30am-4pm - FREE
Simple arts activities for under 10s. Sign a birthday card our birthday card for Billy, make a simple crown and be a king, design Titania's flowers or create a Shakespeare finger puppet to take away with you.

THEATRE SKILLS WORKSHOPS FOR FAMILIES AND CHILDREN IN THE MARQUEE IN THE SWAN GARDENS
All of the sessions below are free, 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.

Stage Fighting
12.00- 1pm - FREE
Learn how to pull a punch in this active workshop and demonstration of stage fighting techniques.

Singing
1.15 - 2pm - FREE
Sing your heart out in this workshop with an RSC Voice practitioner.

Movement
2.15 - 3.15pm - FREE
A chance to experience the type of movement work RSC actors undergo in order to perform on our stages.

Voice
3.30 - 4.15 pm - FREE
Take part in a simple warm up and have a go at bringing Shakespeare's text to life in a fun and energetic session with one of our voice practitioners.

WORKSHOPS FOR FAMILIES AND CHILDREN IN THE FERGUSON ROOM
All of the sessions below are free, 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.

Blood, Guts & Gore
12.30 - 1.15pm - FREE
Join former RSC Head of Wigs and Makeup Brenda Leedham as she shows you the tricks of creating bruises, cuts and scars in this demonstration needing willing participants! Suitable for all ages.

Family Workshop - Henry V
1.30 - 2.30pm - FREE
A practical, fun workshop for children and their families to introduce and explore Shakespeare's play Henry V actively together. Suitable for ages 8+

Speaking Shakespeare
2.45 - 3.30pm - FREE
Want to have a go at speaking some of Shakespeare's speeches? Come along to this fun and lively session that will have you quoting Shakespeare like a pro!

Active Storytelling - Henry V
3.45 - 4.30pm - FREE
Become an actor and tell the story of Shakespeare's Henry V. Everyone gets involved, so be prepared to make music, dress up and join in with the fun. Suitable for 3 - 7 year olds.

SONNET FERRY
12 noon-4pm, pay at the sonnet ferry across from The Dirty Duck pub on the day
Why not sit back and relax to the sounds of Shakespeare's sonnets spoken by RSC actors as you enjoy a trip across the river.

More public information can be found at:
www.rsc.org.uk/shakespearesbirthday (RSC specific activity)
www.shakespearesbirthday.org.uk (details of all Birthday Celebrations activities)

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