So why should we celebrate Shakespeare?
Libby Longhurst, of Shoreham Wordfest’s third annual Celebrating Shakespeare festival, gives an instant answer.
“He is the greatest wordsmith in the English language that we have we ever had.”
The tragedy is that we don’t celebrate him enough, says Libby.
“We had our first Celebrating Shakespeare in 2016 for the 400th anniversary of his death, and the idea was a one-night celebration. We have Burns night… but why don’t we ever remember Shakespeare? We just got together and thought it would be good to do something, and the one-night became a four-day festival. And then we did it again last year.
“This year we are just doing one day to give the volunteers a rest, and then we will go back to being four days next year again. I know his plays are done a lot, but it just feels right to have a proper, special remembrance. A number of plays are going on all the time, but not so much in the provinces, and if you google Shakespeare festivals, they all seem to be in the States.”
Partly the festival in Shoreham is aimed at the disaffected: “So many people will say ‘I don’t like Shakespeare’ but there is so much to be enjoyed around Shakespeare and his brilliance.
“People have been put off at school, which is such a shame. They have had a bad experience, and they think that it is all above them or beyond their understanding, and it isn’t at all. There are so many riches in the way Shakespeare holds up a mirror to us and our world.”
The festival is on Saturday, April 21 – and offers four elements.
n St Mary de Haura Church: Songs, Sonnets and Soliloquies. A colourful, costumed troupe of actors, singers and musicians bring vividly to life the magical riches in the drama, poetry and sounds of Shakespeare and Elizabethan England. Something for everyone to enjoy. Adults and children welcome. Refreshments available. Free, no ticket required. 10.30am-12.30pm.
n QE II room, Shoreham Centre: Sussex Life in Shakespeare’s Time. Historian Chris Hare on the fascinating lives, loves, intrigues, triumphs and disasters of Sussex people in the days when Shakespeare was creating. Refreshments available. Tickets £5. 2-3pm.
n QE II room, Shoreham Centre: Lovely Songs and Lively Sounds. Come and learn some of the tunes and songs that rung in the ears of Will Shakespeare and resonate in his plays. A singing workshop of easy-to-learn medieval, Elizabethan and Shakespearian songs, with musical accompaniment from Sounds and Sweet Airs. Open to all who enjoy singing and music. Adults and children all welcome. Tickets £5. 3.15-4.30pm. Book both these events, tickets: £8 for the two.
n Shoreham Centre: Shakespeare Night Ceilidh. A night of celebration and merry-making remembering the great William Shakespeare’s birthday. Country and more sedate courtly dances with Kate’s Kitchen Band and caller, musical entertainment, soliloquies and sonnets and rustic ploughman’s. Tickets £14. 7.30-11pm.
Tickets: www.ticketsource.co.uk/shorehamwordfest or 07969 572317 or 01273 272063
Information Shoreham Wordfest website: www.shorehamwordfest.com.
For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2