It is Shakespeare's birthday today, and Cranley School in Surrey is enjoying Ye Shakspere Daye - with "Stake of Prime Englishe Beef and ye special treet: newly-discovered Tuber from ye Americayne Collonnies, fryed to a crispe turn".
While Cranley students are toasting the glorious memory of the "Bard, Player and Englishman", the rest of us don't need Tudor chips to celebrate the re opening of the Rose Theatre - or what remains of it - in Southwark, scarcely more than a rapier's thrust from the reconstructed Globe. We have so little exact information about the practical workings of Elizabethan theatre that the son et lumiere inside the only surviving shell from the period provides welcome insights. Tickets pound;3, with reductions for children and parties.
Group deals are available combining a visit with the Globe exhibition.
Details: 0171 593 0026.
Meanwhile, the season at the Globe begins on May 13 with Mark Rylance's production of Julius Caesar, the play which probably opened the original Globe. Modern students can be groundlings for pound;5 or they can "adopt an actor" and exchange information about characters and plot via the Globe website (www.shakespeares-globe.org). Audience members are invited to stay after Wednesday and Saturday matinaes for free "Talking Theatre" sessions with designers, actors and directors. For information on these schemes and the rest of the season: 0171 902 1400.
Julius Caesar was written at a time when the calendar was a hot, even dangerous, political subject, Elizabeth I had failed to bring the country into line with the rest of Europe, which had changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. No Pope was going to tell our Bess how to order the days - to begin the year, for instance, on January 1 rather than, as in English tradition, March 25. Steve Sohmer's Shakespeare's Mystery Play: the Opening of the Globe Theatre 1599 (Manchester University Press, pound;12.99) explores the connections between dates in the play, topical, biblical, liturgical and political matters, and suggests that Shakespeare may have had more subversive intentions than hitherto assumed. Maths, astronomy, astrology and religion meet in this uniquely detailed account.
The calendar is once more a subject for discussion as the new millennium approaches. Greenwich, home of "Mean Time" and site of the dateline (and subsequently the Dome) will be a magnet for visitors during next year. Just as well, then, that the National Maritime Museum has undergone a pound;20 million redevelopment, with the help of pound;11.8 million Heritage funding.
A courtyard between two wings has been enclosed under a vast 2,500sq metre free-span glass roof, where exhibits remind visitors of the scale and power of the sea.There are seven newly-commissioned pieces by leading artists among the history, science and technology.
Visitors who come to see Nelson's blood-stained coat, steer a Viking ship or explore the wreck of the Titanic may be even more surprised by New Visions of the Sea. Rosie Leventon's eerie sculpture, for instance, is a ghostly ship made up of linked glass pieces which, suspended under the roof, glitters and glows in the light. Stefan Gec's "Faedm" is a globe on which are marked the depths in fathoms of the world's oceans, distorted by pressures in a chamber designed to test deep-sea equipment. The aptly-named Humphrey Ocean's "The First of England" is an impressive, large-scale painting based on his experience of ferry trips around Britain. It marks the entrance to a series of galleries displaying the museum's wide-ranging collection - the largest in the world - of earlier works on the theme of sea-faring. The Queen is to open the museum officially on May 11, but members of the public, including school parties, are already welcome. (Information: 0181 858 4422; www.nmm.ac.uk) Young dancers will be able to celebrate the new millennium in a series of festivals in February, March and April next year. Dancebeat 2000 is open to groups specialising in all styles, from contemporary to disco to ballet, and festivals will take place in cities such as Birmingham, Exeter, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Portsmouth. A substantial part of each dance piece must be the work of a young choreographer. Entry forms will be available in May. Contact Richard Butler or Tracey Carter:
0181 870 9624.
Children as young as three are invited to see dance at the Royal Festival Hall in London during half-term. Tutti Frutti will perform two shows, Troll and In the Pink, on June 4 at 11.30am and 3.30pm, and there will be magic and illusion in Compagnie Aristobulle's Le Cafa des Illusions on June 1. Tickets:
0171 960 4242.
Singers around the country are already getting to grips with The TES Millennium Anthem. If you didn't get a copy of the free CD, send pound;1 (pamp;p) to TES CD Offer, Bradley Pavilions, Bradley Stoke North, Patchway, Bristol BS32 0PP. A four-part version is now available, along with the score and lyrics, on The TES website: www.tes.co.uk. Further details from Sandie Owens:
0171 782 3000.