A Shakespeare Festival to mark the 450th birth anniversary of the poet-playwright will be held during Apr 21-27, 2014, at David Hall, Fort Kochi – free for the public. The programme by The Kochi Reading Group (KRG) features a 1-man play by London stage actor, Madhav Sharma, full-length films of two plays, a Puppet Show, Workshops on teaching Shakespeare, Readings, and a Symposium.

The event opens on Apr 21 at 5pm with Songs from the plays sung by the KRG Elizabethan Singers (musical accompaniment by Virtuoso). It will be followed by the 1-man play ‘Bharat, Blighty, and the Bard.’ Madhav Sharma will demonstrate how Shakespeare’s voice speaks to all of us, on manifold subjects – war, love, death, politics, and psychoses. He and Miranda Lapworth will put on two workshops for educators to open up Shakespeare’s world for exploration.

Two magnificent films of the late-period plays will be shown, Macbeth and Romeo & Juliet. The dark power and intensity of the first will be set off against the lyrical poetry of two young lovers, ending with a death scene of sublime pathos. A puppet play by Shubhra Nayar will enact a scene from The Tempest, staged with life-size puppets made for the occasion. A wonderful 90-min film (‘Being Shakespeare’) by the versatile actor, Simon Callow, will reveal the dramatist through words from his plays, threaded with a script by the foremost Shakespeare scholar of the day, Jonathan Bate. Callow talks about Shakespeare, evokes Shakespeare, and becomes Shakespeare.

On Apr 26 an evening of dramatic readings by KRG members, from the sonnets, long poems, and plays, will be interspersed with public discussion. A troupe from St Berchman’s College, Changanacherry, will enact scenes from the plays following the reading.

The event climaxes with a Symposium on Apr 27 when five lovers of Shakespeare will testify to why WS continues to inspire in various ways. To quote Nelson Mandela, ‘Somehow Shakespeare always seems to have something to say to us.’

For questions contact: shak450kochi@gmail.com