Film celebrates Shakespeare's birthday - and his mate from Norfolk

Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust

The Whifflers and Jenny Beake with the plaque where Shakespeare's friend Robert Armin lived in King's Lynn - Credit: SGT

Shakespeare's birthday will see a celebration fit for a bard thanks to the trust campaigning to restore a theatre where he once performed.

Stephen Fry. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Stephen Fry, who appears in the video by the Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust to celebrate the Bard's birthday - Credit: Simon Finlay

It includes a video featuring Stephen Fry, which reveals one of  the great playwright's best friends lived in King's Lynn.

Contributors also include Geoff Hipperson, mayor of Lynn, Dr Paul Richards of the Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust Research Group, the Norwich Whifflers and comedienne Jenny Beake.

st george's guildhall

Jenny Beake, who plays Shakespeare's friend Robert Armin in the video to mark the Bard's birthday and St George's Day - Credit: SGT

The film is going live on YouTube on Friday, as part of an online event to celebrate St George's Day and Shakespeare's birth on April 23, 1564, and promote the campaign to restore Lynn's Guildhall of St George

Ms Beake plays Shakespeare’s leading comic actor Robert Armin, who was born in 1565. Although Armin is credited with being a major influence on Shakespeare, he was largely forgotten in Lynn until the SGT Research Group uncovered new evidence about his birthplace in 2019.

One of the highlights of the event will be the unveiling of a new plaque at 78 High Street, where Armin lived. The building is currently a travel agent's.

st george's guildhall

The video features the Norwich Whifflers, a modern-day group dedicated to preserving the traditions of the Whifflers of Norwich, who cleared crowds from the route of important processions and are mentioned by Shakespeare in Henry V - Credit: SGT

Ivor Rowlands, SGT chairman said, “We were determined to try to find a way of celebrating this really special day in the calendar – St George’s Day and Shakespeare’s birthday. It was clear that we would be unable to have a live event, so we have pulled out all the stops to produce an online spectacular.”

The event comes at a really important time for St George’s Guildhall and for King’s Lynn. Mr Rowlands added, “SGT published its Vision earlier this year, and the eyes of Shakespearean scholarship and theatre history are on King’s Lynn at present. As the country comes out of lockdown, we expect there will be more interest than ever in the guildhall.”

Tim FitzHigham as King Henry on horseback arrives at the Guildhall at King's Lynn as part of the Sha

Shakespeare's Guildhall Trust is campaigning for the historic building to be restored and reopened - Credit: Denise Bradley

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The historic guildhall on King Street houses the only surviving theatre where Shakespeare performed. It housed the King's Lynn Arts Centre until it closed in 2015. The trust is campaigning for the restoration of the guildhall,  to create a sustainable mixed-use performance, arts and cultural centre and a heritage attraction of national significance.

You can see the film on Friday at