Shakespeare Unplugged, the egg theatre’s bi-annual celebration of all things Bard-ish is packed full of events for all ages. The five-week season of plays, workshops, films, talks and cabaret has been inspired by the works of William Shakespeare, and commemorates the 400th anniversary of his death in 1616.
The egg theatre and the Engage (the theatre’s programme of participatory activities for adults) have concocted a season of new commissions, in-house production, visiting companies, masterclasses, schools projects, events and new productions, each designed to invite audiences to look at Shakespeare ‘s work with new eyes and ears. The festival also coincides with Shakespeare Week, a national schools campaign.
On Sunday 14th February, the Shakespeare Unplugged Festival officially launches with The Big Day In, as the egg opens its doors f or a day packed with FREE activities for all the family, including a Shakespeare Treasure Hunt around the theatre, a Valentine’s Day Masqued Ball, a cocktail-mixing session, live entertainment, traditional pies and much more! (11am – 4pm and all free).
The festival begins on Saturday 13th with The Ruff Guide To Shakespeare – in which every single one of Shakespeare’s plays are condensed down to one hour! Written and directed by Toby Hulse with Hannah Drake, the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School bring their trademark mix of storytelling, live music and inventive staging to Shakespeare’s verse (Sat 13th & Sun 14th Feb, 11.30am & 3pm).
The first week continues with an explosive dance adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers has been given a hip-hop makeover, communicating with text messages, their words projected onto backdrops, clothing, the floor and their skin. With the issue of cyber-bullying woven into the plot, this is a highly relevant production for today’s internet generation, told through fantastic dancing and engaging characters. (Mon 15th & Tues 16th Feb, 11.30am & 3pm)
From Ophelia to Olivia, Bianca to Beatrice, Shakespeare’s women bite back in this series of filmed and live performances performed by TRB’s Engage Company in Thy Name Is Woman at the egg on Wednesday 17th February, with excerpts throughout the Festival.
The youngest egg audiences are offered a magical mini version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dinkies Dream presented by Jackie Ekers and Pooja Kumar on Thursday 18th February (for ages 4-6) & Thursday 25th February (for ages 1½ – 4)
Adults and teenage audiences are given the opportunity to catch two big-screen adaptations at the egg theatre in Popcorn Shakespeare, screenings of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes (Thursday 18th February) and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (Sunday 21st February).
Fast-moving, easily understood and visually stunning, Propellor’s Pocket Dream, a sixty-minute version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the perfect production for the end of the first week. Edward Hall’s all-male company, whose full-length production wowed audiences in the Theatre Royal’s Main House in 2013, combine poetry, humour, imagination and magic in an inspiring performance guaranteed to get you hooked on Shakespeare. (Fri 19th & Sat 20th February)
The festival continues throughout February and into March with a version of Romeo and Juliet for young audiences aged 5+ (26th – 28th Feb), Bath Spa University present Where There’s A Will, debating the true authorship of Shakespeare’s plays (3rd – 5th March); A Shakespearean Cabaret is presented by members of the TRB TheatreSchool (10th – 12th March) and TRB Engage performers present a promenade production The Dogs Of War, which weaves Shakespeare’s own writings on conflict and war into a new story in a contemporary setting (24th – 27th March at Burdall’s Yard). There is a programme of readings, Macbeth and The Comedy of Errors, open to all at Mr B’s Bookshop (16th, 18th, 23rd & 25th Feb), a Shakespeare Performance Masterclass for ages 18+ on Sunday 20th February, and the Big Fat Shakespeare Pub Quiz, in the egg café on Sunday 6th March.
Tickets for all events are on sale now, and full details can be found at www.theatreroyal.org.uk