National Theatre director to receive Pragnell Prize on Shakespeare’s 450th birthday

Pragnell is proud to announce Nicholas Hytner as the recipient of the 2014 Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Prize - an honour awarded annually for outstanding achievement in extending the appreciation and enjoyment of the works of William Shakespeare.

During a luncheon to mark Shakespeare's 450th birthday this April, Nicholas will be presented with a silver vessel which has been handcrafted at the George Pragnell workshops and will join a roll-call of A-list names in the process. Previous Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Prize recipients constitute a thespian hall of fame including Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart.

As artistic director of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner has directed Othello with actor Rory Kinnear, Alan Bennett's The History Boys - recently named the nation's favourite play, and a film version of The Madness of King George.

In 1769, actor David Garrick created the first ever Shakespeare Festival. In 1893, pupils at Shakespeare's alma mater King Edward VI Grammar School began what was to become an annual parade around Stratford to celebrate the Bard's birthday, laying flowers on his grave at Holy Trinity Church and continuing on to a celebratory lunch. By the 1980s, the parade attracted over 70 international ambassadors dressed in traditional costume. Against a backdrop of the British national anthem, 150 flags representing countries round the world are unfurled. This year thousands of people are expected to attend the parade and approximately 600 guests will attend a luncheon on the banks of the River Avon in the ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY Gardens.

"I couldn't be more flattered or delighted. It is an immense and entirely unexpected honour to be in such distinguished company as the former recipients of the George Pragnell Prize. I am looking forward keenly to taking part in the Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations. Shakespeare has been the bedrock of my professional life and of my life besides," says Nicholas Hytner.

"Shakespeare's birthday celebrations are a high point of the Pragnell calendar. We're thrilled to once again award an exceptional individual whose life's work has been inspired by William Shakespeare," says Charlie Pragnell, managing director of Pragnell.

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