British Holiday Information

National Theatre commemorates 400th anniversary of Shakepeare’s death

Film screenings, talks and an exhibition are just some of the ways the National Theatre is commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death this month .

Spanning five days  – 18-22 April – the events will also celebrate Shakespeare’s link with the National Theatre(NT), and the 40th anniversary of its move to the South Bank.

The history of the National Theatre is inextricably linked with William Shakespeare – Effingham Wilson’s proposal for a national theatre was partly inspired by the purchase of Shakespeare’s Birthplace for the nation in 1847. In his 1848 Proposition for a National Theatre he set out a claim that a theatre, ‘a house for Shakespeare’, would be an important complement to the preservation of Shakespeare’s home.

Some of the National Theatre’s celebrations include:

  • Screening of Olivier’s Henry V at the Flytower – Friday 22 April, 8pm
    The National’s iconic Flytower becomes an outdoor cinema, showing the 1944 film that earned the NT’s first Director, Laurence Olivier, a special Academy Award for outstanding achievement as actor, producer and director.
  • A series of talks using the plays for inspiration will cover everyday issues:
    • Old Age, Tue 19 April, 5.45pm (1hr), Olivier Theatre
      Actor Simon Russell Beale and Simon Lovestone, Professor of Translational Neuroscience and Dementia Research at the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry, look at how memory and ageing is explored in Shakespeare’s play, and how the situations experienced by the characters might be mirrored today.
    • Migration, Wed 20 April, 3pm (1hr), Olivier Theatre
      Actor Lenny Henry and George Alagiah, BBC journalist, author of A Home From Home, and Friend of the Migration Museum Project, look at how migration and exile is explored in Shakespeare’s play, and its relevance today.
    •  Family, Wed 20 April, 5.45pm (1hr), Olivier Theatre
      Guests, including actor Clare Higgins, look at how family and gender is explored in Shakespeare’s plays.
  • Monday 18 April – Taking place in the Lyttelton Lounge, an exhibition of 5 Hamlets from the National Theatre’s archives, featuring recordings, props, designs, costume and more from the NT’s five productions of Hamlet.
  • There is also a series of talks on Friday 22 April at the Clore Learning Centre and Lyttelton Theatre covering the history of the National Theatre:
    • The Beginnings
    • The 20th Century
    • The 21st Century
    • Writer for Today – a discussion on how the idea of Shakespeare as our contemporary has been absorbed into the culture, the impact in terms of modern productions, and what the future holds.

For more information visit nationaltheatre.org.uk/whats-on