Leading actors perform at Guildhall’s ‘open mic’ Shakespeare day | The City Blue Book
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Leading actors perform at Guildhall’s ‘open mic’ Shakespeare day

A ‘drop in’ event to encourage people to perform their favourite piece from Shakespeare’s plays  took place at Guildhall on Tuesday, 10 May.

‘Speeches, Soliloquies and Songs from Shakespeare’ event is part of the City of London Corporation’s series of events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, who lived and worked in the Square Mile.

A stage was set up in Guildhall Art Gallery’s Basinghall Suite with a lectern and a free standing microphone to enable people to read, recite or perform their piece.

Simon Russell Beale, whose roles have included Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth, Richard III, Malvolio, Iago, Benedick, Leontes and Falstaff,  opened the event. Widely regarded as one of the finest stage actors of his generation, he graduated from the City of London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 1983. John Heffernan, who trained at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, will open the afternoon session at 1.30pm with his two pieces. Most recently seen in Dickensian, Luther, Ripper Street and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, his stage credits include King Lear, Richard II, She Stoops to Conquer and Major Barbara, and the title roles in Oppenheimer, Edward II and Macbeth.

Sara Pink, Head of Guildhall Library, said: “My colleagues and I are delighted that Simon Russell Beale and John Heffernan, two of our most talented and versatile actors, open ‘Speeches, Soliloquies and Songs from Shakespeare’ with exclusive performances, before handing the stage to members of the public, including City workers and residents, regular theatregoers, and budding actors.”

Damian Lewis, the Homeland and Wolf Hall actor and Guildhall School of Music & Drama graduate, and Alan Hollinghurst, who won the 2004 Man Booker Prize for The Line of Beauty, opened Guildhall Library’s ‘Complete Reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnets’ in April 2014 to celebrate Shakespeare’s 450th birthday.