William Shakespeare’s quill ceased to be used in 1616, when he passed away at the age of 52, but our most revered of writers left literary fans with a sublime catalogue of work that has continued to both influence and entertain.
On Saturday – the 400th anniversary of his death – Stony Stratford begins a celebration of the Bard that will see events rolled out in appreciation of our greatest dramatist throughout this year, and into 2017.
And Stony Stratford did figure in Shakespeare’s work, you know. While he might not have set one of his works here, he did at least make mention of the historic town, in Richard III.
‘Last night, I heard, they lay at Stony Stratford’.
Words penned by the Bard in Act 2, Scene 4 and spoken by the Archbishop of York.
A passing reference it may be, but it’s a reference nonetheless!
The idea behind the festival is simple enough – to showcase his work, and encourage a communal enjoyment.
And organisers are thinking up lots of ways in to hit that enjoyment quota.
Eight events are already set and ready to roll, including ‘The Shakespeare Circle – an alternative biography’ in September, and December’s Bard in the USA bash, examining the relationship between the writer and the other side of the Atlantic.
Naturally we will bring you full details of other events as things progress, but you don’t need to wait nearly so long to get your first fix – the festival launches this Saturday morning at York House with drama in the gardens, music, Shakespearean planting in the communal bed and a plant sale, from 10am.
In the evening, an Open Mic night at the venue will feature Caz Tricks’ Troupe of Thespians, Red Phoenix, the Bard of Stony Stratford, Ken Daniels and more... perhaps you’ll give it a go?
On Tuesday evening, Alison Cox will give a talk about staging a Bard-y great exhibition, when she presents ‘Shakespeare in Art: Tempests, Tyrants and Tragedy’ at the library in Church Street.
Rob Gifford is the event co-ordinator: “Since seeing a performance of Hamlet with real horses at the age of seven, I’ve been fascinated by Shakespeare’s plays,” he said.
“They cover the gamut of human emotions and actions. Shakespeare has everything to hold people’s attentions. I hope this series of talks, performances and events will encourage the citizens of Milton Keynes to celebrate his work and life.”
> Waterstones book store in Midsummer Place has a continuing celebration of all things Bard, until Sunday.