Traveling Shakespeare: Celebrating the Bard’s 450th Birthday

Traveling Shakespeare: Celebrating the Bard’s 450th Birthday

On April 23, 2014, the world celebrated the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare. Though the Bard wasn’t around to blow out his candles, he lives on in his works performed around the world. This summer, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival contributes to this on-going celebration with our production of The Winter’s Tale.
Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

William Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, a market town located in Warwickshire, England. Though many of Shakespeare’s 37 (a number still contended, but generally agreed upon) works were performed outside of his hometown at the peak of his writing career, Shakespeare spent the remaining days of his life in his home, New Place, in Stratford. To this day, you can visit Shakespeare’s birthplace or see a Shakespearean play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RSC) if you make the pilgrimage to Stratford-upon-Avon.

William Shakespeare’s birthplace located in Stratford-upon-Avon, image courtesy of http://www.stratford-upon-avon.co.uk/

As part of the birthday celebration, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust located in Shakespeare’s hometown is journeying across the pond. The United States reveres the works of Shakespeare, making his work a central part of festivals and seasons; nearly every state is home to a Shakespeare festival. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is interested in seeing how we perform the Bard, and has chosen 14 festivals across the country to visit this summer to both honor their works and document their processes. The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is Shakespeare on the Road’s FIRST stop! We’ll be hosting representatives from Stratford the final weekend of the 2014 festival season, July 3-6. The materials we pass along to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will join the documents of 13 other festivals in a large public database that will serve as a living archive of Shakespeare in the U.S.

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was founded in 1847, following the purchase of Shakespeare’s birthplace as a national memorial, image courtesy of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Since the first performance in 1993, the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival has produced 18 of the original 36 plays that exist in the First Folio. With this summer’s production of The Winter’s Tale and next March’s production of The Merchant of Venice, the Festival will have brought to its Kansas City community over HALF of the Bard’s existing plays. Check out our full production history – which plays have you seen in Southmoreland Park over the years?

2013       As You Like It
2012       Antony and Cleopatra A Midsummer Night’s Dream
2011       Macbeth
2010       King Richard III
2009       The Merry Wives of Windsor
2008       Othello
2007       Romeo and Juliet
2006       King Henry V
2005       Much Ado About Nothing
2004       Julius Caesar
2003       Hamlet
2002       Taming of the Shrew A Midsummer Night’s Dream
2001       The Tempest Twelfth Night
2000       King Lear As You Like It
1999       Macbeth Much Ado About Nothing
1998       Love’s Labour’s Lost Measure for Measure
997       King Richard III
1996       Romeo and Juliet
995       The Taming of the Shrew
1994       A Midsummer Night’s Dream
1993       The Tempest  

View from the stage of the Festival’s 2006 production of King Henry V.
Photo by Doug Hamer

The Winter’s Tale will be the 19th play of Shakespeare’s canon produced in the Festival’s 22-year history. Come join our celebration beginning June 17 in Southmoreland Park. The Winter’s Tale runs Tuesdays-Sundays June 17-July 6, with a show on Monday, June 30 and no show on Friday, July 4. For more information about the show and reserved seating, visit us at www.kcshakes.org or give us a call at 816.531.7728.

View from the audience of the Festival’s 2005 production of Much Ado About Nothing.Photo by Doug Hamer

Want to learn more about Shakespeare on the Road? Visit http://shakespeareontheroad.com/ to follow along the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust on their journey across America’s Shakespearean stages.

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KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

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