On this day… 1879 (Shakespeare Memorial Theatre)

A wonderful passage taken from Mary Elizabeth’s memoirs and particularly relevant as we head into a weekend of celebration in Stratford for Shakespeare’s birthday…

‘… I dined downstairs as it was dear Ada’s thirteenth birthday, and, as the 315th of Shakespeare’s, marked the opening of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre at Stratford-on-Avon. Many noted actors came down from London for the week to act some of his plays. The weather was bitterly cold and wet so I was unable to attend till the last evening, when we all went to the comedy of ‘As You Like It’, one of my favourite plays of Shakespeare. My dear grandchildren were wild with delight when in Act Two Scene One, the Forest of Arden, a Charlecote deer (which their papa, as requested, had shot for the occassion) appeared on stage, and Masters, the Charlecote keeper dressed up as a forester, led on two of the deer hounds. The effect was charming and the house rang with shouts of applause and encore. We all came home saying we had never enjoyed a play so much before’

Mistress of Charlecote: The Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy 1803 – 1889. p 155

A new production of ‘As You Like It’ is to be performed at the RSC in Stratford and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne this year… but will not be featuring any Charlecote deer! Here is the trailer…

You can also see an outdoor performance of ‘As You Like It’ with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men at nearby National Trust – Packwood House. Bookings are being taken now for their June performance!

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