Play on words

Play on words

Marking 400 years since the death of our greatest playwright, a series of specially curated events breathe new life into the bard's work

William Shakespeare continues to delight and shock audiences with his thought provoking, often tragic, and occasionally controversial plays. We round up this summer's events in tribute of four centuries passing since the master dramatist's death.


The British Film Institute will be hosting a series of film screenings and events around the UK in celebration of Shakespeare’s extensive repertoire. Kenneth Branagh will take part in a live Q&A simulcast to be broadcast from the Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast and followed by his award-winning screenplay of Henry V. While Sir Ian McKellen will present a remastered Richard III, and The Musicians of Shakespeare's Globe will perform a live score to accompany the premiere of Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Cinema.


At London’s Globe Theatre you can catch staged readings, talks from Creative Director Emma Rice and lectures on Shakespearean pronunciation from acclaimed linguist David Crysta. East will also meet West when the open air theatre presents a Japanese inspired Kabuki production of Hamlet.



The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will invite visitors into the poet’s family home in Stratford-upon-Avon for a candid look into his family life. The sunken Knot garden - the largest surviving element of the estate - has been restored to its former glory while commissioned artworks will also be displayed. A new exhibition centre will also give a glimpse of the setting where Shakespeare penned 26 of his most famous works.


Bristol’s annual Shakespeare Festival returns again bringing with it a fresh selection of some of Shakespeare’s most romantic and tragic productions to some unusual locations. Beware of witches at Redcliffe Caves as theatre company Insane Root perform Macbeth, and spot the fairies at Bristol Botanic Garden during a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


The National Library of Scotland will pay homage to famous Shakespearean actors from the last four centuries at their ‘Playing Shakespeare’ exhibition. Over 30 illustrious actors and actresses including, Benedict Cumberbatch and Dame Maggie Smith,will all be honoured for their depictions of Shakespeare’s challenging roles.


Shakespeare’s most controversial play, The Taming of the Shrew, has been reinterpreted in novel form by Pulitzer prize winning author Anne Tyler. Vinegar Girl: The Taming of the Shrew Retold is a witty tome featuring around protagonist Kate Battista, an independent young woman, who has the tough decision of choosing a man without making personal sacrifices.

  • Words: Rebecca Parker