Fringe Box



Will’s Birthday Bash – On Offer, Thespian Perambulations

Published on: 13 Apr, 2017
Updated on: 13 Apr, 2017

By Alice Fowler

Will’s Birthday Bash is the Guildford Shakespeare Company’s annual celebration of William Shakespeare birthday, April 23 1564: which this year makes the great man 453.

The award-winning theatre company will mark the occasion with three events, starting with a staged reading of Shakespeare’s final history play, Henry VIII, on Wednesday April 19. Co-written with John Fletcher in 1613, the play describes Catherine of Aragon’s fight to preserve her marriage to Henry amid his growing desire for Anne Boleyn, and the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey.

Shakespeare’s original audiences knew the play under a different title – All Is True. 
At the time of writing, the on-stage events in Henry VIII were only 77 years old, making it the closest Shakespeare came to writing a contemporary play. It even features the baby Elizabeth I in the final scene. Director is Richard Neale, responsible for GSC’s previous sell-out staged readings of Pericles and Cymbeline.

Celebrations are to continue over the weekend of April 22 and 23, with the company’s popular Sonnet Walks. Now in their sixth year, these take audiences on a mystery tour with walkers encountering Shakespeare sonnets, scenes and speeches in the unlikeliest of places. Past locations have included the roof-garden of House of Fraser, Racks Close, the Castle Keep and even by a flock of sheep on St Catherine’s Hill.

The starting point for this year’s walks is Stoke Park Home Farm (off Nightingale Road). As ever, to retain the mystery and fun, the route will be kept under wraps until the first walkers set off on Saturday April 22.

There are thirteen walks each day, starting at noon. Walks last approximately 60 minutes and run every 15 minutes. See the GSC website for full details. 
The Birthday Bash continues the following week with GSC Young Company’s first public performance on Sunday, April 30.

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