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Shakespeare's Globe may be on Bankside but the Plays Move
It is almost 400 years since the original Globe theatre was destroyed in 1613 by fire from an ignited cannon, and almost 16 years since Shakespeare's Globe opened in 1997. The newer structure has become a well-known fixture in the Bankside area, both for Londoners and visitors alike. The 2013 season, named the 'Season of Plenty' will commence in April, featuring plays written by Shakespeare, and by new playwrights, and performed by English and visiting companies. If you can't make it to Southwark, then touring versions of some of the productions will come to you.
Shakespeare's Globe's season kicks off as usual with a celebration of its namesake's birthday. There is no verifiable documentation detailing Shakespeare's actual birthdate, but his baptism is recorded in the parish records of Holy Trinity church in Stratford as 26 April 1564. St George's Day, 23 April, has always been accepted as the poet's birthday, the date on which he also died. When Mark Rylance was the first creative director of the theatre he inaugurated a series of Sonnet Walks. These take place on the Saturday closest to 23 April so this year they will happen on 20 April. Groups of walkers follow one of two routes, either from Westminster in the west, or from Shoreditch in the east, and are 'surprised' at various points along the way by actors reciting a random selection of the 154 sonnets. The following day the theatre will be open to families all afternoon in a magical, Tempest inspired celebration of what would have been Shakespeare's 449th birthday.
This year's Shakespeare plays will feature three concerned with magic, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth and three dealing with war and its effects: the three history plays that form the Henry VI trilogy. The three latter productions will tour around the country before culminating in London. The other touring productions are King Lear and The Taming of the Shrew, which will travel around the UK and beyond.
In addition to home grown versions of the dramas, last year's Globe to Globe season will enjoy a small reprise with a South African Venus and Adonis, a Georgian As You Like It, an Indian Tempest and a Belarusian King Lear. The contemporary offerings for this year are Ché Walker's The Lightening Child, a re-telling of Euripides's Bacchae, Samuel Adamson's Gabriel and Jessica Swale's Blue Stockings.
As usual Shakespeare's Globe will offer workshops and study days for all ages, as well as the Exhibition and Globe Theatre Tour. And if you think you can't afford to buy a ticket for a play, it only costs £5 to stand in the Yard.