Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations will be an exciting blend of old and new in 2018 as the town’s biggest annual event is set to become even bigger. Three days of fun and spectacle for both visitors and local residents include the UK’s first National Living Statue Championship taking place through the weekend and an exciting Community Literary Carnival Pageant which will bring a whole new dimension to the traditional Birthday Parade on Saturday 21st April. And now is the time to turn your plans into action and get involved in a great carnival experience.
Stratford-upon-Avon Town and District Councils, overseeing the festivities again this year for Shakespeare’s Celebrations, are warmly inviting locally based groups of all shapes and sizes to take part and help make the inaugural Shakespeare Birthday Literary Carnival Pageant a real success.
Cllr George Atkinson, Chairman of Stratford-on-Avon District Council, said: “We are delighted to be hosting many new elements of Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations and look forward to seeing many of you taking part.”
“Support and involvement of everyone in our town and the surrounding area is vital to help us reach our goal of making the celebrations financially sustainable and guarantee their place in our heritage.”
“Success of our new carnival in 2018 will lay firm foundations for future years, attracting visitors to join us and enjoy what Stratford-upon-Avon has to offer.”
The Mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon and the Chairman of the District Council will judge the Literary Carnival Pageants independently before they leave New Place to embark on their procession through the town. The winning entry will be announced at the end of the Birthday Ceremony to the gathered crowds. The victors will receive a cheque from Literary Carnival Pageant sponsors, Bell Court, and a trophy which they will retain for one year.
Cllr Victoria Alcock, Mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon, said: “We hope many of you will really enjoy participating in this inaugural community carnival event. We are all on a steep learning curve to ensure every aspect of the Pageant meets or exceeds expectations, but we are confident it will be a lot of fun to be part of and to watch.”
Each group’s presentation for the walking pageant will take a literary work of fiction as its theme. There is no limit to the number of participants in each tableau, and the only stipulation is that all participants should be in costume and each and every tableau should be representative of the chosen work of fiction they set out to portray. And be suitable for a family audience!
Cllr Alcock continued: “There is still time to register your community group’s interest in joining the first Literary Carnival Pageant, but hurry, you need to apply by 16 March! There is a nominal charge of just ten pounds to help with administration costs, but your enthusiasm and creativity is the most important requirement. Take a look at the expression of interest form on the Shakespeare’s Celebrations website, www.shakespearescelebrations.com for more details.”
“Costumes are essential, and Stratford Town Trust is making grants available to support Stratford-upon-Avon town community groups wishing to take part. Groups resident in the town may apply for up to £250 to help with the purchase of fabrics and accessories to make costumes or to hire them for the event. Time flies, however, so you urgently need to visit the Town Trust website at www.stratfordtowntrust.co.uk or there is a link on www.shakespearescelebrations.com for details of how to apply. The closing date for costume grant applications is Wednesday 28 February 2018, for payment in early March.”
Tableaux inspired by characters from such luminary authors as Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Roald Dahl, AA Milne, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, JK Rowling, or the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, will follow the Birthday Parade through the town centre to Bridge Street. Passing ‘Mr Shakespeare’, he will hand each group a feather quill symbolising his literary genius being handed down to all aspiring playwrights and authors thereafter.
Once the Carnival Pageants leave the arena by parading down Bridge Street into Waterside, there will be the opportunity for those who wish to follow the Civic Parade to Holy Trinity Church to lay flowers at Shakespeare’s grave.
Right across town, there is plenty to see and entertain through the weekend, including the Living Statues ‘performing’ in Bancroft Gardens prior to judging on Sunday afternoon. For more information about the National Living Statue Championship being organised by LSD Promotions, working with Shakespeare’s Celebrations, visit www.lsdpromotions.com/statues.