Sunday, April 22, 2012

Shakespeare's Birthday Celebration 2012, Stratford-upon-Avon

Every year Stratford-upon-Avon had a parade to mark the birthday of Shakespeare.  The Head Boy (yes they really do exist outside of Harry Potter world) from the King Edward School knocks on the door of Shakespeare's birthplace, where a man and woman dressed as Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway give him a quill.  He then leads the parade as it goes to the market cross (where a series of flags are unraveled to represent the different countries and organizations at the parade).  From here the parade continues down High Street, Chapel Street and then Church Street before it turns onto Old Town, which leads to the church.  It might sound long, but in England many streets change their name at every intersection, so it is actually only about three blocks.  The parade ends at Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried.  The Head Boy replaces the quill in the funeral bust of Shakespeare and hundreds of flowers are then laid on Shakespeare's grave. 

My friend Robert and David sitting in front of the Shakespeare Institute, waiting for the parade to begin

The Shakespeare Institute delegation in the parade.  One student from each MA program walks in the parade from the Birthplace to Shakespeare's grave.  The man in the red robe in the back in Dr Michael Dobson, the new director of the Institute.    

Me and the sign to the institute.  Betwixt my teeth is the rose I laid on Shakespeare's grave.

Each country is invited to send delegates to march in the parade.  This year and last year China had the largest turn out.  Their dragon was a crowd favorite.

They also had Chinese Opera actors, who jumped along the way to the church.

Morris dancers!

My flower for Shakespeare and rosemary from the Institute garden, with the spire of the church in the background.  Rosemary is traditionally associated with memory.  In Hamlet, after she looses her marbles, Ophelia starts throwing bits of foliage about and says 'There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.'  There is a monument to Shakespeare in Southwark Cathedral in London that shows him laying down, reclining on his elbow.  There is always a sprig of rosemary in his hand.  Interestingly, to geeks like me, Shakespeare's brother, Edmund, is buried in Southwark Cathedral; the contemporary playwrights of Shakespeare who collaborated on many plays, Beaumont and Fletcher, are also buried in the cathedral.  Edmund was an actor who moved to London sometime in the 1590s.      


Once you enter the church through the west doors you walk to the chancel, where the grave of Shakespeare and those of certain members of his family are located.  You hand your flowers to the people in the white surplices and then leave through a door that is only used at this time of year.  

DUCKS IN FRONT OF THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY THEATRES!!!  After the Parade was over my friends and I decided to walk around town and take in the events planned for the day.   

We took a row boat ride on the river avon. I have wanted to do this for over a year and finally did!  Jamie looked terrified when it was her turn to row.

Tanya and I look usual.

Our friends in their boat.  We had planned to race them, the brits versus the the Americans, but soon abandoned that idea once we realized how hard it was to steer.  

Holy Trinity Church from the river.

Tanya made rowing look so fabulous...until she fell backwards.  I laughed until it happened to me soon after.

Me on my bum in the boat.  Well played physics.  Well played.

My friend emma had to spend the day working at the RSC.  She promptly stickered me when I walked by.

Normally King Lear is sad in this picture.  The simple transition from a sad to an excited face completely changes the meaning of the show!

Now I just look confused.

This was a Brazilian Samba group that performed in front of the bridge.  Good music.

My friend Marshall was working with a group of teenagers who put on an abbreviated version of Romeo and Juliet that started in front of the RSC, moved to the park (where this was taken) and ended in Holy Trinity Church.

The grave covered with flowers.  

Under this pile of flowers is the grave Shakespeare.  The entire chancel smelled amazing with the hundreds of fresh flowers in the room.

No comments:

Post a Comment