On Saturday 17 April, celebrate Shakespeare's 446th birthday by going on a Sonnet Walk, run by Shakespeare's Globe in partnership with Phoebus Cart. The Sonnet Walks are part tour of Tudor London, part promenade performance. One starts from Westminster Abbey and goes, among other places, past the Whitehall Banqueting House, where 'King Lear' was originally performed; the other starts at the recently rediscovered site of the original Globe Theatre in Shoreditch and winds along the Bankside to where both tours end, the modern Shakespeare's Globe.
Along the way, walkers are entertained by twelve actors who appear randomly to recite one of Shakespeare's famous sonnets. These sonneteers might not resemble typical Shakespearean actors. In recent years one actor in modern dress approached walkers to ask to borrow a mobile phone, then spoke into it Sonnet 116, 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment'.
Sonnet walkers are each given either a red or white rose--reminiscent of the Wars of the Roses Shakespeare portrayed in the three parts of his Henry VI plays and Richard III--to carry with them along the tour. Once reaching Shakespeare's Globe on Bankside, walkers are invited to place their roses on the Globe's stage, or, if the theatre is being used for rehearsals, to entwine the flowers in the Groundling Gates.
The Sonnet Walks were originally devised by Mark Rylance, the first Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe from 1995 to 2005. Rylance, also an actor and director, often takes the part of one of the sonneteers himself.
Sonnet Walks start at 10am from both locations and set off once every 15 minutes until 12:45pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance, either by calling 020 7401 9919 or from shakespeares-globe.org. Early booking is advised, as the walks leaving from Westminster Abbey have already sold out.