Very Jolly English Outings
As the capital of the UK it's no surprise that London has a whole heap of things to do for a thoroughly English experience - sport, music, art and politics are just some of the St George's Day events on offer. There are some classic English types in the mix - a Posh play, art at the Queen's Gallery, an insight into Winston Churchill's bunker, and a dog show. Whatever you choose, it's all rather English and you'll have an awfully spiffing time.
19th March - 31st October 2010
You only have to look at the V & A Museum to know that art was important to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert - forever commemorated in the Albert Memorial. This major exhibition, entitled Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, hosted by The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace explores their shared enthusiasm for art, displaying more than 400 paintings, drawings, photographs, jewellery and sculpture from the Royal Collection. Works of art dating from the time of their engagement in 1839 to the Prince's untimely death in 1861 range from a beautiful set of jewellery in the form of orange blossom to superb examples of early Italian painting. Bernardo Daddi's The Marriage of the Virgin, given by the Queen to the Prince for his birthday in 1846, is just one example of the personal nature of the exhibition with around a third of the objects on show exchanged as gifts between the couple. Like the popular 2009 film, The Young Victoria, Victoria & Albert: Art & Love also challenges the most commonly held image of Victoria as the dour widow. NOTE: Pre-booking for The Queen's Gallery is strongly advised. A small number of tickets is held back for sale on the day. These tickets are available from the ticket desks at the Gallery from 9.30am on a strictly 'first come, first served' basis and are for one of the timed admissions that day.
28th January - 24th April 2010
No better way to celebrate St George's Day than a theatre outing to see Jez Butterworth's comic look at life in England, Jerusalem. The the backdrop for play is the "green and pleasant land" of rural England and the day is St George's Day. Following a sell-out season at the Royal Court Theatre Jerusalem comes to the Apollo Theatre in the West End for a 12 week run. The play which puts the English class system under the spotlight features Mark Rylance as Johnny 'Rooster' Byron - a role which saw him take Best Actor at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards last year - and his best mate Ginger, played by Mackenzie Crook (of The Office fame). The witty script sees "opinionated eccentric" (The Telegraph) Johnny on the run from his children, the local council, and a man who wants to beat him up and his mates, who are after his ample supply of drink and drugs. A very contemporary vision of rural life inspired by Butterworth's real-life experiences farming in Somerset.
Sunday 25th April 2010
It may not be specifically for St George's Day but this year the London Marathon just happens to take place on the Sunday after the patron saint's day so you can expect to see more than the usual number of runners dressed up in the patriotic colours. Every April, 30,000 runners flood the streets of the capital to do battle with themselves and each other for the London Marathon. Serious competitors mingle with charity fun-runners in the spring sunshine as the 26.2 mile route comes alive to the sounds of bands, cheering crowds and pounding feet. The race is the biggest of all city marathons and attracts many of the world's top athletes. It kicks off at Greenwich Park and Blackheath, continues through Surrey Quays, Brunel Road, Tooley Street, Canary Wharf, the Tower Of London, Embankment, Parliament Square and Birdcage Walk, with a royal finish on The Mall by Buckingham Palace.
19th April - 12th May 2010
Named after a 1960s reggae song by Jamaican band Toots and the Maytals, Billy Bragg's play/gig/installation Pressure Drop is performed at the Wellcome Collection to tie in with their Identity exhibition. The punk/folk singer and 'Progressive Patriot' has been exploring Englishness for a quarter of a century, looking at that mixture of smugness, tolerance, self-deprecating irony and sexual dysfunction that is the heart of the English character. It's very apt that the man who penned the lyrics "I'm not looking for a new England" in the eighties has collaborated with writer and artistic director of maverick theatre-makers On Theatre, Mick Gordon, to create this promenade drama with music, about identity and cultural roots. Pressure Drop centres on three generations of a white, working class family and their struggle to define 'home' at a time when the very idea of national identity is shifting making this ideal entertainment for an alternative celebration of St George's Day. NOTE: The audience stands throughout the 90-minute performance and there is no interval. Contains explicit language. Not suitable for children under 14.
21st - 25th April 2010
Well timed to tie in with St George's Day, this exhibition at the SW1 Gallery features the winning photographs from the We Are England photography competition run by Commonwealth Games England. The brief for the competition, open to all, was to find the photographs that best represent England and celebrate everything about England and 'Englishness'. Photographs entered varied from a literal translation - like pictures of historic English landmarks or English sporting event - to a more personal response whether that means a plate of fish and chips, a countryside scene or the deer in Richmond Park.
9th April - 22nd May 2010
It was Groucho Marx who wisely said "I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member." Something members of the Riot Club - a thinly veiled fictional version of Oxford University's legendary dining club, the Bullingdon - would do well to bear in mind. In Posh, Laura Wade's drama about members of the Riot Club, the elite are at play, drinking fine wines on a jolly good night out, but there's a plot hatching - they're planning a takeover. Posh is a follow-up to Laura Wade's award-winning 'Breathing Corpses' which was shown at the Royal Court in 2005. The Sloane Square theatre, under the artisitc direction of Dominc Cook, is on a roll at the moment with two of its plays Enron and Jerusalem transferring to the West End. But while Jerusalem deals with the gritty working classes, Posh is at the other end of the spectrum - now it's the turn of the privileged classes to be placed under the spotlight. The staging of Posh in the month before a general election is no coincidence either.
16th March - 19th June 2010
Following its staging at Richmond's charming Victorian theatre in November last year, George Bernard Shaw's Mrs Warren's Profession transfers to the West End's Comedy Theatre for a longer run from this spring through to summer. Scratching the surface of mannered society, a self-assured Cambridge graduate finds her ordered world rocked by the discovery that it has been made possible by her mother's life as a high-class prostitute. Shaw expertly sets up an idealised English existence of manicured gardens and afternoon tea with the vicar, which he then cleverly deconstructs from the outset with his incisive wit. This is a dense play of tangled relationships and and thorny issues but its fast-flowing dialogue gives it an irrepressible life of its own. Starring Felicity Kendal as the indomitable Mrs Warren.
Saturday 24th April 2010
Dragon-slaying stories, learning to maypole dance and a Punch and Judy show; St George's Day at the Museum of Childhood is perfect for keeping the kids entertained. The day's traditions are made relevant for today's youngsters with the Kent Korkers and Pork Scratchins showing how Morris dancing should be done - if your kids are CBBC fans they may have already seen them performing on 'The Mysti Show'. Punch and Judy will be making an appearance thanks to Geoff Felix, as will a jolly green dragon pieced together from recycled materials. A Victorian barrel organ provides the soundtrack to the day's festivities.
Sunday 25th April 2010
As Britain prepares to make the ghastly choice between the dour Gordon Brown and the airy-fairy David Cameron, the country's top satirical impressionist takes to the road for his first stand-up tour in five years. Rory Bremner's Election Battlebus Tour will call at all the major towns and cities on the campaign trail as the 6th May polling day draws ever nearer. And with both party leaders, along with some guy called Nick Clegg, drawing their swords in some live televised debates ahead of the election, expect some savage lampooning from one of Britain's comedic institutions. Bremner has been in the political satire game for over 20 years now and this tour should provide the perfect antidote for what could be a long and painfully drawn out affair. Interestingly, Bremner was banned by Labour from travelling as an accredited Telegraph journalist on its election bus ahead of the last general election due to his neurotic impression of Tony Blair. Now the "one-man opposition party" has a fresh chance to give his own unique take on the principal protagonists vying for the keys to No.10. This performance at the Richmond Theatre is one of only two performances on the Tour which includes cameos from The Two Johns, John Bird and John Fortune. Rory Bremner's Battlebus Tour will also call in at the Greenwich Theatre on 27th April.
Until 27th August 2010
If you really want to crank up the patriotism this St George's Day, Winston "we shall fight them on the beaches" Churchill is really the only place to start. The Churchill Museum & Cabinet War Rooms has been commemorating its seventieth anniversary for the past year with a series of events (until 20th April) and an exhibition, Undercover: Life In Churchill's Bunker, open until 27th August. Personal accounts by former army sergeant George Rance, RAF officer William Dickson, personal secretary Elizabeth Layton, and shorthand typist Ilene Hutchinson are just some of the stories included in this anniversary exhibition.
Saturday 24th April 2010
You only have to look at Crufts to know that English are very affectionate about their dogs and a trip to the popular annual Dog Day Afternoon at Cabbages and Frocks Market on Saturday 24th April will most certainly be one of the more English ways to enjoy the day after St George's Day. You can even get a Union Jack collar from the market stalls for your patriotic pet. The day gets off to a healthy start with an energetic dog aerobics at 12 noon followed by demonstrations and the chance for you and your pet to join in and win prizes. It's a fun day for all dog owners giving them the chance to meet and shop while their well behaved pets show off their talents. Competitions include the one with the Waggy Tail (at 2.45pm), followed by 'A bit of Ruff' for mixed breeds (3pm), a lookalike competition at 3.15pm, and the best toy boy or girl competition for miniatures and toy breeds at 3.30pm. Winners from all the heats get to go forward to the Best in Show class at 4pm. There are also demonstrations by Good Boy Dog School who'll be putting on a display of how the perfect pooch behaves, showing off with synchronised obedience and trick sequences. Market stalls extend from the usual food and fashion products for humans to include gift ideas for your four legged friend. Wuff!
St George's Day in London 2010
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