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Shakespeare 400: where to celebrate Shakespeare across Kent from Maidstone to Deal and Sevenoaks to Sittingbourne

By Angela Cole

It's the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death today. There are many celebrations throughout 2016 to mark the occasion, and remember the Bard's work. Here are a few:


Delve into the world of Shakespeare’s theatrical world both indoors and outdoors at Smallhythe Place, near Tenterden.

Between Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, June 5, there will be a Shakespeare Trail between 11am and 5pm each day when young visitors can follow the trail around the gardens and outdoor theatre to discover more about England’s most famous playwright. Pick up a puzzle sheet with themed word searches, crosswords, quizzes and colouring or head for the Venetian-style mask making in the garden so you can take home your own Shakespearean prop.

Indoors, there’s a chance to see some of the costumes and props used by Victorian actress Ellen Terry, who played a number of the Bard’s roles. Normal admission charges apply for the National Trust property. For details go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/smallhythe-place


From Friday, May 20 to Sunday, May 22, Shakespeare’s Globe will be bringing a touring production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona to Chilham Castle.
The venue is a fitting setting for the production as it was finished the year Shakespeare died and will also be holding celebrations for its own 400th birthday throughout the weekend.
For tickets and more details visit www.shakespearesglobe.com or call 020 7401 9919.


Changeling Theatre’s summer production will be – following a public vote – All’s Well That Ends Well, which is thought to have been written between 1604 and 1605, followed by She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith.

The company will be playing at a variety of venues across the county from Friday, July 1 to Sunday, August 21, beginning and ending at Boughton Monchelsea Place, near Maidstone. Venues even include a free performance on Margate Beach on Saturday, July 9.
Tickets for the Maidstone company’s shows are now on sale. For details go to changeling-theatre.com


William Shakespeare is believed to have died on the same date he was born, April 23.
Although Saturday, April 23, this year is the 400th anniversary of his death, many see 2016 as a year-long celebration of his work.
He lived in Stratford upon Avon, and worked in London, but also visited Kent.
He is known to have performed in New Romney, Folkestone, Hythe, Dover and Fordwich in 1609 when the plague forced many theatres in London to close, and performances moved to the provinces. He is believed to have returned in 1612.

The White Cliffs of Dover
The White Cliffs of Dover

Kent does appear in some of his plays, including Gads Hill in Henry IV and Rochester. There’s also a reference to the cliffs of Dover in King Lear.

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