Kenneth Branagh to Receive Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award

Stratford Observer, 25 March 2015
* Thanks, Jane

Kenneth Branagh will receive this year's Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award.

The acclaimed Shakespearean actor/director and Oscar nominated film star was chosen by representatives from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Institute.

He will receive the award given annually "for outstanding achievement in extending the appreciation and enjoyment" of Shakespeare - at the Shakespeare Birthday Luncheon on Saturday April 25 at the Theatre Gardens in Stratford.

Kenneth, who asked not to be referred to as a Sir, follows others illustrious knights and dames including Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Peter Hall, Dame Judi Dench and Dame Harriet Walter.

Belfast-born Branagh joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1984, where he received acclaim for his performances in 'Hamlet' and 'Henry V'. His most recent Shakespeare production 'Macbeth' - at the Manchester International Festival and the Armory in New York - marked his 25th Shakespeare production.

Credited with bringing Shakespeare to the masses, the five-time Oscar nominated Branagh has directed and starred in several film adaptations of Shakespeare plays, including 'Henry V', 'Much Ado About Nothing', 'Othello', 'Hamlet', 'Love Labour’s Lost' and 'As You Like It'.

Branagh said: "I am honoured to be this year’s recipient of the distinguished Pragnell Shakespeare award. To be in the company of such illustrious predecessors is both touching and meaningful. I look forward very much to returning to Stratford, a town I love, and of course, to a delightful lunch to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday!"

Professor Stanley Wells, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Honorary President praised Branagh's contribution to promoting the enjoyment of Shakespeare.

He said: “Kenneth Branagh is more than worthy of this prestigious award, both as a great actor and director of Shakespeare on stage and as an innovative, prolific and highly successful director and actor in films of Shakespeare that have brought his plays to global audiences who would never otherwise have been able to enjoy them.”

The President and Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon will be historian Michael Wood, while the toast to the Immortal Memory of William Shakespeare will be delivered by writer, broadcaster, former MP Gyles Brandreth.

Tickets for the Birthday Luncheon are £60 and available from the Stratford Artshouse box office. Visit for further details.

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