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If you are hoping to enjoy the romance of Romeo and Juliet or the intensity of Hamlet this summer, here are the best venues to experience Britain's most celebrated playwright.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
There are few better places to take in a play than in Shakespeare's birthplace. Having soaked up the history and culture of the many Shakespearean attractions in this beautiful town, a trip to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is a must. Situated on the banks of the River Avon, the theatre's stage reaches out into the audience, drawing theatre-goers right into the performance, and productions don't come much better than those of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Take in their production of Julius Caesar this summer.
Set within Manchester's Victorian Cotton Exchange, the Royal Exchange Theatre is not only an impressive venue in its own right but is also a theatrical experience not to be missed. Within the Great Hall sits the steel and glass capsule that houses the 'theatre in the round', where the audience surrounds the stage providing an intimate feel for Shakespeare-lovers. This year, the Royal Exchange will play host to an enchanting production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Rutland Open Air Theatre, Stamford
The British weather aside, there really is nothing like open-air theatre on a warm summer evening. And for one of Europe's finest al fresco venues, head to the Rutland Open Air Theatre for the Stamford Shakespeare Company's summer season. Set within the grounds of Tolethorpe Hall in Little Casterton, the Stamford Shakespeare Company offers magical performances throughout the summer, with an all-weather canopy providing audiences protection from the occasional shower. This year, the Company is offering the romance and comedy of Twelfth Night as well as a compelling production of Henry IV Part 1.
Shakespeare's Globe, London
For the ultimate authentic Shakespeare experience, it doesn't get much better than The Globe Theatre. Built just a few feet from the original 16th century site, the reconstructed theatre was designed to remain as faithful to the original as possible. As such, this timber-framed building, with 'thrust' stage and 'groundlings' pit is an experience every Shakespeare fan should try at least once. Henry V, Richard III, The Taming of the Shrew and Hamlet form just part of this year's season.
What's your favourite theatre for Shakespeare? Leave your comments below...