Today is the official birthday of William Shakespeare, the greatest English poet (go on, disagree with me, I dare you). It’s also the official start date for the World Shakespeare Festival, which means that internationally-themed productions of Shakespeare’s works will be popping up all over Britain. In fact, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre will performing every work in the cannon, each in a different language for its Globe to Globe project.
Some tips for finding cheap student tickets for Shakespearian theatre:
- The RSC Key scheme gives £5 tickets to those aged 16-25
- The Globe always has £5 groundling tickets if you’re willing to stand
- The National Theatre’s Entry Pass scheme lets 16-25-year-olds get £5 tickets for all of their shows (and if you’re quick off the mark, £12 TravelEx tickets for everyone else)
- The Old Vic offers £12 tickets for those under 25
- If you’re in Oxford, the Oxford Playhouse OptIn! scheme gives £5 or even free tickets for some shows
But if you’re an Oxford local, here at the home of Great Writers Inspire, you may want to see some productions closer to home, and you’re in luck, as this spring is rife with Shakespeare. Here are some upcoming productions:
May 2-5: The Two Gentlemen of Verona
This rarely-performed classic will be performed in Christ Church Cathedral Garden.
Verona’s best of friends, Proteus and Valentine, are to be separated when Valentine is sent from Milan to experience the wider world; or, in this case, to fall in love with the Duke’s daughter Silvia. Proteus stays for love of Julia, but not for long. Once sent to Milan, he too falls for Silvia – and out of love for her, he is willing to betray his best friend and his lady-love. Not that Julia will take that betrayal lying down…
“It is the lesser blot, modesty finds,
Women to change their shapes than men their minds.”
Throw in one quick-witted (and one not-so-quick-witted) servant, a faithful canine companion, some tommy-gun-toting gangsters, a big band singer, and a vastly emotionally ambiguous ending, and you’re in for a good time.
May 8-12: Henry V
Shakespeare’s Globe’s production of this powerhouse of a history play is touring and coming to the Oxford Playhouse.
O! for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention!
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.
The Globe Theatre on tour presents Henry V; Shakespeare’s masterpiece about the turbulence of war and the arts of peace. Portraying the romantic story of Henry’s campaign to recapture the English possessions in France, the charismatic King’s ambitions are challenged by a host of vivid characters caught up in the real horrors of war. Visit its webpage here.
May 9-12: Tamings
This student production combines Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and Fletcher’s response to Shakespeare’s work, The Tamer Tamed. Simultaneously hilarious and thought provoking, this modern production reveals that ultimately, for both men and women, it is never easy to negotiate the power balance in love and marriage, whatever era one is in. What does it mean to be a wife, or equally a husband? Who must submit to whom, and who has the power? All one can aim for is a sense of humour and, as Maria’s epilogue tells us, to achieve ‘due equality and …to love mutually.’ It will be performed in the O’Reilly Theatre. Book tickets here.
May 15, 16, 25, 26: Henry IV part 1
May 20-June 2: Oxford Shakespeare Festival
This is the first year Oxford has held its own Shakespeare festival, and so there will be a mini-explosion of talks, events, and performances. See the list of talks here, one of which will be given by GWI’s very own Emma Smith.
May 23-26: Titus Andronicus
May 23-26: Twelfth Night
May 29: Unsex Me Here
This series of monologues for Shakespeare’s women will be performed in Blackwell’s bookshop. Visit the Bard Fest site for more information or book tickets in Blackwell’s.
May 30-June 2: Love’s Labour’s Lost
June 3: The Comedy of Errors
This hilarious play of mistaken identity will be performed in Oxford Castle for one night only. Tickets are free.
June 2-14: Romeo and Juliet
The classic tragedy will be performed in Oxford Castle Courtyard. Visit http://www.oxforcastleunlocked.co.uk.