The Best of Shakespeare Season

The Best of Shakespeare Season

He died 400 years ago (boo!). But we're celebrating (yay!)

What do Ingrid Bergman, Machine Gun Kelly and William Shakespeare all have in common? Quite apart from being the arbiter of many a pub quiz tie breaker (you're welcome), they all died on their birthdays. And on April 23, it will have been 400 years since the Bard of Avon rolled a seven - here's our pick of precisely how the Midlands will be marking his quadricentennial.

KING LEAR AT THE REP

Angry looking, isn't he? From the heart of power to the cold and barren world of the outsider, as King Lear decides to give up his crown and divide his kingdom, family ties disintegrate (I.e. people start dying at a rapid pace). Shakespeare’s brutal portrait of one man’s unwinding sanity pitches Lear against his children, against nature and against the universe itself. Classic Bill LOLZ. From May 19 to 28. Tickets.

ROMEO & JULIET BY THE CBSO

It's difficult to think of a play that has inspired more generation transcending ditties than Romeo & Juliet. Imagining there might be something in this - and with the big deathdays of the year in mind - those felicitous folk at the Town Hall have arranged an evening of the CBSO's take on Tchaikovsky’s overture, Bernstein’s West Side Story and Prokofiev’s bittersweet ballet. April 23 (as in, the day). Tickets.

FIRST FOLIO IN BRUM

One of the best collections of Shakespeare in the world just so happens to be housed in our city's book-keeping receptacle. Consequently they've got it together with the British Library and the result is an exhibition featuring films, books and photographs as well as a rare chance to see the LoB's copy of the First Folio (1623), the original collected edition of the Bard's plays. From April 22 to September 3.

BALLET AND THE BARD

Tick a bevy of 'speare off the list with Birmingham Royal Ballet's Triple Bill. Based on the tensions, drama and jealousy of Othello, The Moor's Pavane (pictured) is the meat in your balletic sandwich, with sonnet-inspired dancing kicking things off and a celebration of everyone from Hamlet, to Bottom and Titania in David Bintley’s The Shakespeare Suite concluding proceedings. June 22 to 25. Book

BILL AND HIS MUCKERS AT THE BARBER

Behold, the Barber’s first exhibition exploring Elizabethan art, which focuses on Shakepeare's chief patrons at court and his other rivals and associates. Organised in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, it features major paintings, sculpture and prints from 1590 to 1620, including iconic images of Wills and a rare first Folio. From June 10. Entry be free.

CYMBELINE AT THE RSC

Everything we've ever seen at the RSC has been brilliant - weepingly, wonderfully, get a little bit spat on if you book good enough seats - brilliant. Begin your RSC patronage at the end, with Cymbeline, a play about deceit, pursuit and seduction, which is believed to be one of Shakespeare's final tales. April 29 to October 15, you'll need to book toward the end of the run if you want a good seat.