This year the nation is celebrating the 450th-birthday of the playwright William Shakespeare (1564-1616). He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire and baptisted on 26 April 1564, a few days after his birth. Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616 at the age of 52 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.
Seventy-two years ago The Old Vic and Sadler's Wells theatres were preparing to commemorate the 368th-birthday of William Shakespeare with a specially dedicated festival to the Bard.
A veritable who's who of British stage actors of the day gathered on 23 April 1932 to take part in the Shakespeare Birthday Festival at the Old Vic. Amongst those performing a selection of scenes from the playwright's work were Edith Evans, Martita Hunt and John Gielgud. Meanwhile, Alastair Sim and Ralph Richardson were members of a cast acting a burlesque titled Willy's Choice or An author in search of some players. The Sadler's Wells Theatre Archive holds a programme of the festival:
As an appetiser to the evening event, the then current production of Hamlet was performed during the afternoon of 23 April and featured Ralph Richardson as the Ghost and Alastair Sim as Claudius. A review in the The Times (19 April 1932), of an earlier performance of the play, describes proceedings as adequate but singles out Sim's portrayal of Claudius as being excellent.
"April hath put a spirit of youth in everything"
Sonnet XCVIII (18) - William Shakespeare