April 1, 2006, by Peter Kirwan

The Grand Plan

APRIL 1ST 2006 (backdated)

Welcome to The Bardathon, the running account of one student’s attempt to see every single production in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s mammoth Complete Works Festival!

My name’s Pete, and the Festival is happening right in the middle of my two year part–time MA in English Literature, so I’m basing my dissertation on it as one of the most exciting and interesting projects in Shakespeare performance of recent times.

The aim of the Festival is to show every single one of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. Many of them are being done by the RSC themselves, but there are companies visiting from all over the world to contribute– some with one–off events, some with long runs. Among other things, it’s going to be a fantastic chance to see some truly great international theatre and see how different cultures approach the Bard.

There are going to be fifty–four productions over the course of the year, as well as a near–infinite amount of events, debates, student plays, balloon flights, brunches, film screenings and other Shakespeare–related happenings. I’m focussing on the core of the festival, the 54 productions, but I’m going to try and get to as many of the other things as possible.

It’s a logistical nightmare, and I’ve had to plan the next twelve months pretty intensely in order to make sure I can clear enough space to see all of these plays. Luckily, the RSC offer £5 tickets to 16–25 year olds, which means I can just about afford to get to everything so long as I cut back on alcohol and CDs…..

So, this is The Grand Plan. I’ve booked as many tickets as possible, though unfortunately some of the one–day events sold out before public booking was even open, so I’m going to have to wait until the day of those performances to try and get last–minute tickets. My diary is full, my holidays are booked to avoid all performances and my friends are all prepared to see a lot less of me!

This blog will give reviews of everything I see– which, I will stress, are my own opinions and are not meant to be taken as gospel! I’ll also post updates, news as I receive it and some reflections on what’s been going on. Ultimately, this is a Festival, and I’m hoping that it’s really going to feel like one, rather than just a string of plays in closed–off theatres. It’s an exciting time to be living near Stratford, and I hope this’ll give some idea of the year to everyone else!

All for now. First play is Romeo And Juliet, and I’m looking forward to getting started!

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