Relive the Shakespearean era in six simple ways

Published on : Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mary Arden's Farm -The houseWith 2016 marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, this is the time to step up on stage, eat like an Elizabethan, or dress like a character from the 16th century – whatever takes your fancy, throw yourself into all things Shakespearean!

What? Drama workshop with a Shakespearean actor
Where? Sadler’s Wells or Urdang Academy, London
How? Whether you are completely new to acting or fancy yourself as the Globe Theatre’s next star lead, this insightful and inspiring ‘Playing Shakespeare’ one-day workshop will demystify his plays and help you bring any character to life. Designed for any level of experience, a professional Shakespearean actor employs exercises and techniques to lead students through a playful, creative and exciting class. You will work with different scenes and monologues – and clues within the language and imagery – to understand how Shakespeare’s language works and facilitate artistic expression.

What? Elizabethan costume tour at Angels The Costumiers
Where? Hendon, north-west London
How? Many a Shakespearean actor and Hollywood star has made the pilgrimage to this very special warehouse in north-west London for a costume fitting at Angels The Costumiers, the world’s biggest supplier of costumes to stage and screen. This is the very same team that won an Oscar for the stunning Elizabethan costumes worn in the 1998 hit film Shakespeare in Love – so what better place to see what Shakespeare would have worn in his day and what actors playing Shakespeare characters wear on stage?

A family-run business established in 1840, today you can organise a private tour of this vast space, filled with five million costume items hung on 8.5 miles of railing. A tour of the collection takes approximately two hours and looks at all the departments in Angels, including Men’s Tailoring, Ladies Making, Alterations, Uniform Department and many more. Spaces on the tour are strictly limited to 12 people.

Once you’ve done the tour, you can even buy your own Shakespearean costume! Angels The Costumiers has a fancy dress shop, Angels, on Shaftesbury Avenue in central London – widely considered the best fancy dress shop in London – and stocks a range of Elizabethan costumes.

What? Try your hand at geese herding or falconry at Mary Arden’s Farm
Where? Wilmcote, near Stratford-upon-Avon, west England
How? For a fun family day out, head to Mary Arden’s House in Wilmcote, just 3.5 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. This was the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother and sits alongside Palmer’s Farm, a living history experience and working Tudor farm transporting visitors back to the 1570s. You can experience the smells, sounds, skills and crafts of the daily routine on a Tudor farm, and even try your hand at geese herding and falconry! Falconry was a popular pastime of the era and often features in Shakespeare’s plays.

What? Eat like an Elizabethan
Where? Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, south England
How? To get an idea of what Shakespeare would have eaten at a typical Elizabethan banquet, head to Hatfield House, a historical mansion with royal connections set in a large park. Its renowned Elizabethan banquet nights include a lavish four course dinner of traditional English fare with a contemporary twist eaten at long banqueting tables – all set within the magnificent 15th-century Great Hall of the Old Palace of Hatfield House, previously home to Queen Elizabeth I. It is certainly a unique dining experience, complete with authentic Elizabethan period music, song and theatre as entertainment.

What? Go backstage at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Where? Stratford-upon-Avon, west England
How? Go behind the scenes at the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) on a guided tour exploring the public and private areas of the theatre. To discover the origins of the RSC and its theatres in Stratford, choose the ‘Behind the Scenes Tours’, where you will explore a production in more depth and learn about the theatre making process (£8.50 per person or £4.50 for under 18s). Or, you can take the ‘Front of House Tours’, which explore the beginnings of the theatre in 1879 up to the modern day, hear behind-the-scenes secrets, and learn how costumes are made and how effects are achieved (£6.50 per person or £4 for under 18s). Tours last one hour and depart from the cloakroom.

What? Dress up as a Shakespeare character
Where? The Globe Theatre, central London
How? The iconic Globe Theatre offers fascinating backstage tours that bring this unique space to life with fascinating stories of the 1599 theatre, of its reconstruction process in the 1990s, and how the wooden globe shape works today as a dramatic space. One of The Globe’s most popular backstage tours is its ‘Elizabethan Dressing’ experience. Find out the origin of the phrases ‘straight-laced’ and ‘loose women’ on this group tour, which explores the significance of clothing in Elizabethan society and the intricacies of clothing – all demonstrated as one of your group is dressed up as a Shakespearean character!

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