Postcards of the Past

The Old Shakespeare Memorial Theatre


The original proposal that Stratford should honour the memory of its greatest son by building a theatre seems to have been made after the centenary celebrations in 1864. In due course a Shakespeare Memorial Association was formed and plans were drawn up for a theatre, picture gallery and library to be built on the banks of the Avon on land donated by Charles Flower, a local brewer. The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre opened on April 19th, 1879, the first performance being "Much Ado About Nothing" - not "Hamlet" as had been planned. There was initially a Spring Festival of the bard's plays, which ran for three weeks. In 1910 a Summer Festival was added, lasting another month. These festivals ran until 1916, when they were suspended until after the war. In the 1920s they were extended further, and attendances increased - in fact so successful were they that in 1925 hundreds of people were unable to obtain tickets. But in March on this link to see what happened.

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