School’s stylish Romeo & Juliet inspired by Madonna’s ‘Vogue’.

Last month, Bolton School staged a four-day run of Romeo and Juliet with Zack Howarth and Megan Smethurst playing the title roles. A musical version, it drew from the ’80s and ’90s New York ball scene to reinvent the concept of the battling houses of Montague and Capulet. The talented supporting cast included Sixth Former Billy Morrison as an imperious Lady Capulet.

The Vogue-inspired R&J production

The Vogue-inspired R&J production

Next up for the school’s Shakespeare 450 celebrations is a festival presenting 12 reduced plays in two nights. Watch out too for an unpcoming production of Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, acknowledging that 2014 is also Marlowe’s 450th anniversary.
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Shakespeare rules Verona!

verona_shakespeareThe Arena di Verona Opera Festival is the place to be for opera buffs with a taste for Shakespeare. Running from 20 June to 7 September, the Festival’s highlights include productions of Carmen, Turandot and Madama Butterfly from Franco Zeffirelli, director of the legendary 1968 film of Romeo and Juliet.

Speaking of which, on 23 and 28 August and 6 September Charles Gounod’s opera Roméo et Juliette (Romeo and Juliet) is staged, with the immortal Veronese lovers played by Lana Kos and Vittorio Grigolo.
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Quotemonger on… Shakespeare’s Roses

Everyone knows “A rose by any other name…” from Romeo and Juliet.

But that was by no means all Shakespeare had to say about the world’s most romantic flower. Let’s have a look at five quotes on the subject of roses…

  • “From fairest creatures we desire increase
    That thereby beauty’s rose might never die.”
    (Sonnet 1)

    Thus begins Shakespeare’s first sonnet, and his first addressed to the 'young man' whose beauty is celebrated with this comparison to the rose.
  • “Earthlier happy is the rose distilled
    Than that which, withering on the virgin thorn,
    Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.”
    (A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Act 1, Scene 1)

    Hermia is the “rose” in this line. Duke Theseus is advising her to marry rather than become a nun to avoid a union with Demetrius.
  • “I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace.”
    (Much Ado About Nothing – Act 1, Scene 3)

    Don John aka “John the Bastard” is a “plain-dealing villain” all right. And in this scene the princely, pretty adornment of a rose is counterpointed with his own preference: plant rot.
  • “Tell him he wears the rose / Of youth upon him; from which the world should note / Something particular.
    (Antony and Cleopatra Act 3, Scene 13)
    “The rose of youth” means “the blush of youth” in this passage where Antony is talking about the young Octavius Caesar.
  • “The rose looks fair, but fairer it we deem / For that sweet odour which doth in it live.”
    (Sonnet 54)
    There's a lengthy comparison between “canker-blooms” and roses in Sonnet 54. Both may look pretty, but the sweet smell of the one shows its true colours. Thus is the character of the poet’s beloved revealed: when the bloom of youth fades, what “odours” of true character remain?

Vote for our Cleopatra cover star!

Cleopatra, Egypt’s famed Queen of the Nile, is quite possibly the most famous woman in history. Not even England’s greatest writer was immune from her fabled charms. Shakespeare fanned the flames of the world’s Cleo obsession with his play Antony and Cleopatra. Director Janet Suzman, who herself played the role at Stratford, describes it as “The best play for a woman ever written”.

We’re running a special feature on Cleopatra in Issue 2 of Shakespeare Magazine, and we want you to tell us your choice of Cleopatra cover star.

Choose the next Shakespeare Magazine cover star

Choose the next Shakespeare Magazine cover star

Should it be silent movie actress Theda Bara, nicknamed ‘The Vamp’, who portrayed Cleopatra on screen in 1917?

Or British film legend Vivien Leigh, star of the 1945 film Caesar & Cleopatra (by George Bernard Shaw).

Then there’s Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor, who headlined the notorious 1963 epic Cleopatra.

Needless to say, some tremendous stage actresses have tackled the Shakespeare role, including Helen Mirren (1965), Glenda Jackson (1978) and Judi Dench (1987). More recently, in 2012, Kim Cattrall joined their ranks:

Who is your choice for Shakespeare magazine’s Cleopatra cover star?

Email us below or send a tweet to @UKShakespeare

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RIFT present a fully immersive Macbeth

RIFT is UK-based theatre company, led by their two founders; Joshua Nawras and Felix Mortimer. The duo have produced a number of highly inventive productions as RIFT, including Kafka’s The Trial. Their latest project however, tackles one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies; Macbeth. The production is being staged in a tower block in East London, although the exact location is being kept secret.

The performance takes place on Friday and Saturday nights throughout June, July, and August. Starting the night ‘face-to-face with witches in an underground car park’, this looks set to be a thrilling night that puts you right in the centre of the action.

Tickets are already sold out, but for more information, or to watch for extra tickets (which have been hinted at!), follow @RIFT___ on Twitter. Please note – this production is only suitable for ages 14 and up.

Sherlock Holmes meets Richard III

Popular co-stars of BBC drama Sherlock, Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch, are both set to play Richard III in Shakespeare’s second-longest play. Cumberbatch will star as Richard on the small screen in an upcoming BBC adaptation of the play, whereas Freeman will be taking on the role in Jamie Lloyd’s upcoming theatre production at the Trafalgar Studios in Whitehall.

This production will run from the 1st July to the 27th September 204 as part of the second Trafalgar Transformed season, which will involve an offer of £15 Monday tickets in a bid to encourage first-time theatregoers to the show. Tickets are as of yet unavailable for purchase, but if you are interested, you can visit and register your details for exclusive ticket sale information.

National Shakespeare Day

The 23rd of April has long been accepted as the official birthday of William Shakespeare, and many people are now campaigning for this date to become a recognised national holiday. Shakespeare Day has become a campaign that is being supported by many people and companies across the country. EasyJet hit the headlines recently when they unveiled a plane bearing Shakespeare’s face, showing their support for the Shakespeare Day movement. They are also offering customers the chance to win free flights with EasyJet by writing a sonnet that supports the Shakespeare Day, and offering free performance of Shakespeare’s plays at airports.

Are you ready for 23 April? It's National Shakespeare Day

Are you ready for 23 April? It’s National Shakespeare Day

Do you think it is time that the nation’s greatest playwright and poet was honoured with a national holiday? Or is it unnecessary, as he is already honoured in so many other ways? You can find more information on the campaign, or sign the petition to show your support for Shakespeare Day at or