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World Shakespeare Festival (Royal Shakespeare Company)

An Olympic Event

The land that gave birth to William Shakespeare is hosting the Summer Olympics in 2012, and those two great cultural entities are inspiration for the World Shakespeare Festival, launching April 23 and continuing into November.

Thousands of artists from around the world will take part in almost 70 productions, plus supporting events and exhibitions, across the United Kingdom and online. The festival forms part of London 2012 Festival, which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, bringing leading artists from all over the world together in a UK-wide festival in the summer of 2012.

Here are some of the highlights:

Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the World Shakespeare Festival (WSF) is an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organizations, and with Globe to Globe, a major international program produced by Shakespeare’s Globe.  It is supported by BP, as Founding Presenting Partner, and by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor and Arts Council England.

The Festival includes a major exhibition on “Shakespeare: Staging the World” at the British Museum (in collaboration with the RSC and supported by BP), which will explore the world through the eyes of Shakespeare, his players, and audiences in the changing world of the 17th century.

World Shakespeare Festival partners include Almeida Theatre; Anglo Mexican Foundation; Artistes, Producteurs, Associés (Tunisia); the Barbican; Barcelona Internacional Teatre (Spain); the BBC (which will be launching its Shakespeare season in November 2011); Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company; Brighton Festival; the British Council; the British Museum; Chekhov International Theatre Festival (Russia);  Companhia BufoMecânica (Brazil); Compañia Nacional de Teatro (Mexico); Contact, Manchester; Dmitry Krymov’s Laboratory (Russia); dreamthinkspeak; Edinburgh International Festival; Hall for Cornwall; House of Fairy Tales; Iraqi Theatre Company (Iraq); London International Festival of Theatre; Lyric Theatre, Belfast; National Student Drama Festival; National Theatre; National Theatre of Scotland; National Theatre Wales; National Youth Theatre; New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich; Newcastle University; the Ninagawa Company (Japan); Northern Sinfonia; Northern Stage; The Nuffield, Southampton; Oily Cart; Pilot, Questors Theatre; Riverside Studios; Roundhouse; Royal Shakespeare Company; Sage Gateshead; School of Dramatic Art Theatre (Moscow); the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust; Shakespeare’s Globe; Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center (China); Sherman Cymru, Cardiff; Squidsoup; Stratford Circus; Tate Modern; Teatr Warszawa (Poland); Theatre Royal Newcastle;  Voluntary Arts Network; and the Wooster Group (USA).

As well as showcasing the best of UK and international creative talent, the World Shakespeare Festival will encourage the creativity of young people, emerging artists, and amateur companies. More than 260 amateur groups involving 7,200 people from ages 6 to 90 are taking part in Open Stages, sharing skills and working with the RSC and nine partner theatres to perform their own interpretations of Shakespeare everywhere from castles, parks, and village halls to pubs, churches, and a coffin works. Some of the most exciting amateur companies will perform at the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon home as part of the World Shakespeare Festival in the summer of 2012.

Thousands of teachers and young people will also take part in the Festival.  New research findings, released by the RSC and the British Council, show that 50 percent of the world’s school children (around 64 million) study Shakespeare, including countries as diverse as Australia, Azerbaijan, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Ukraine, USA, UK, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

The World Shakespeare Festival will create a legacy for young people through:

Further programming, including free events, broadcasts, and a major digital project allowing people all over the world to become involved, will be announced in the autumn and the new year.

Here are a few of the World Shakespeare Festival productions scheduled:

World Shakespeare Festival events, exhibitions, education projects, and broadcasts include:

Go to www.worldshakespearefestival.org.uk for more information. Social media links are at www.facebook.com/worldshakespearefestival and www.twitter.com/wsf2012.

October 2, 2011

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