Starting on Monday 21st March, Shakespeare on Tour will begin broadcasting the first of five stories on BBC Radio Suffolk, BBC Look East and at bbc.co.uk/shakespeareontour.
Shakespeare on Tour includes stories that are all linked to specific places across the country as part of a season of BBC programming to mark 400 years since Shakespeare’s death.
This unique and ambitious broadcasting event will uncover surprising stories about where Shakespeare’s plays were performed, along with other iconic moments such as the first black actor to perform Shakespeare on the British stage, the rise of the female star and notable Shakespearean child actors.
It also charts locations where Shakespeare’s acting companies performed – a number of which survive to this day.
To help bring these stories to life, the BBC has been working closely with the British Library to unearth stories from their historic collection of theatre playbills relating to Shakespeare performances across the UK, and an academic project spanning 40 years called Records of Early English Drama (REED).
In East Anglia, BBC Radio Suffolk and BBC Look East will broadcast five Shakespeare on Tour stories from Monday 21st March. The first will be aired on the Breakfast Show with Etholle George.
One of the stories BBC Radio Suffolk and BBC Look East will tell is of how Shakespeare Company’s visited Ipswich ten times.
This was an unusually high number for that company and at a time when Shakespeare himself was an active member. The first was in 1594-5. Ipswich was counted among the ten richest provincial cities during the period and East Anglia was the favoured playing circuit among major troupes. In the same year five other important troupes also visited Ipswich. The city paid Shakespeare’s company 40 shillings for its performance – four times as much as the other troupes.
Nikki O’Donnell, Head of Regional and Local Programmes, BBC East said: “This unique project brings together on-going academic research as well as stories of Shakespeare performances told through original playbills from the late 18th century onwards.
“Shakespeare’s company came to Ipswich more than any other city in the country. The city proved to be a magnet for Shakespeare and other performing troupes and these special stories will explain why. Plus, they will allow audiences to discover exactly where about on their home turf Shakespeare and his men performed.
“All stories will all be available online at bbc.co.uk/shakespeareontour where they can be enjoyed for many years to come.”
Browse stories online at bbc.co.uk/shakespeareontour from Monday 21 March.