This year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. It is also exactly 50 years ago that Bootham opened its award winning Hall which has seen many of the Bard’s work performed. Always a controversial deign, the Bootham School Hall is bold and brutalist. In spite of its somewhat challenging visual appearance, it went on to win an RBA award and to become one of the country’s few concrete buildings to gain Listed Building status. The original architect envisaged a space able to enhance both occasions of serenity, as in daily Quaker meeting, to ones of dramatic festivity.
Linking the two anniversaries, Archivist, Jenny Orwin, said, “The School has a long tradition of performing Shakespeare’s plays. The earliest recorded performance is scenes from A Winter’s Tale, which was performed outside in the School grounds. Over the years plays such as Richard II, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Much Ado About Nothing followed. A Winter’s Tale in 1967 continued the tradition in the new Hall. There was plenty of scope for staging dramatic scenes, such as the fight scenes in Romeo and Juliet. Most recently, a production of A Winter’s Tale in 2014 included live sheep! As it is Shakespeare’s birthday on 23rd April, it seems an appropriate time to mark the two anniversary occasions.”