Challenge Week 2019: Mind The Bard

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Hopefully you can remember back as far as April, when I had my first challenge week of the year: Mind The Musicals. Next up is something else close to my heart, as I delve back a few centuries and take on the might of a certain William Shakespeare! A bit of a spin-off from my Globe Challenge a couple of years ago, I suppose, and a chance to have a real Bard fest.

From #ShakespeareSunday 7th until Saturday 13th July, I’ll be making my way around London (and across the country) to bring you the best of this summer’s Shakespearean offerings.

I don’t have my schedule finalised in any way yet (blame all of the exciting shows that keep getting announced for taking my money!), though I have plenty of options open. I’m desperate to see both the Regent’s Park Open Air and Bridge Theatre productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as the setting of the former should be magical – and reports of the latter have definitely intrigued me. It seems to be the year of Dreams, as Shakespeare in the Squares is also tackling the play – plus Shakespeare’s Globe will shortly begin performances of their latest version.

Talking of the Globe, I’d happily go and revisit one or both of Henry IV part 1 or Henry V (I’m sorry, Henry IV part 2…) – maybe get myself back into groundling mode for the occasion. It’s a shame that its neighbour, the Rose Playhouse, doesn’t seem to have anything going on at the moment as it seems like a while since I was last there; I might make a return to Penge during the challenge week as I saw a remarkable production of my favourite Shakespeare play there (Twelfth Night, remember?) and I’d happily watch it again.

Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre 2019 season
Photo credit: Charlotte Graham

A big trip up to Stratford-upon-Avon would have been nice, however… Something a bit more out of the ordinary just happened to fall into my lap for the last two days of the week: Twelfth Night and Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre in York! Not only does it mean getting to visit that beautiful city again, but it also means the chance to add to my tally of theatres visited. I really wanted to go in their inaugural season last year but couldn’t quite get around to it, so both that and some wonderful casting has given me the nudge to head up there this year. I had hoped to add their Henry V to my trip (the marvellous Maggie Bain from Emma Rice’s Dream is taking on the title role!), but it didn’t quite work out so I’ll just have to make a return later in the season…

The current plan blog-wise is to get a few character studies in, maybe a review or two, and possibly even an interview if you’re very lucky. I’m also keen to revisit something from one of my Sunny Challenges (which I know someone else for some reason really wants me to do) – that’s right, things are about to get sonnet-tastic!

And if anyone has any ideas of any actual challenges that I could add to the mix then do let me know – not that it isn’t a challenge to vomit out thousands of words in a week, on very little sleep, but still. I’m at least a bit acclimatised to that by now. Do also drop me an email if you have a Shakespeare production that you’d like to be reviewed as part of the week, or if you know of any others in the London area that I’ve not mentioned. (I’ve all of a sudden got a bit of a craving for a church production, if anyone could sort that out for me..?)

That’s it for now – “parting is such sweet sorrow”…


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