The first known production of a Shakespeare play at the King’s School was in 1738. The Kentish Post advertised the meeting of the Feast Society on Thursday 14 September and added: “The first part of Shakespear’s Henry the Fourth will be performed by the young Gentlemen of the School the same Evening”.
There is no record of any other plays being put on in the rest of the eighteenth century, but King Henry IV was performed at the Canterbury Theatre “by particular desire of the young gentlemen of the King’s School” in 1790 and again in 1801.
Speeches in the Chapter House from 1833 usually included at least one scene from a Shakespeare play. This tradition came to an end after 1941, with the exception of Canon Shirley’s final Speech Day in 1962, when Julius Caesar and Much Ado About Nothing were featured.
The first complete Shakespeare in modern times was Twelfth Night in 1933.
In the 67 King’s Weeks from 1952 onwards there have been 40 productions of 21 different Shakespeare plays, starting with Henry IV Part 1 . The most popular has been A Midsummer Night’s Dream with six productions, followed by Twelfth Night with five and Romeo and Juliet with four. Most of the plays have been performed outdoors, with the Archdeacon’s Garden the most frequently used venue. In recent years the Mint Yard has been the favoured location.