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:
- A celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright
- Over 50 arts organizations
- Thousands of UK and international artists
- 7,200 amateur theatre-makers and thousands of teachers and young people
- 70 productions and exhibitions, plus events and activities, across the UK and online
- One million tickets on sale from October 10, 2011
- New research from the RSC and the British Council revealing that 50 percent of the world’s school children study Shakespeare
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:
- an international education conference “Worlds Together,” exploring the influence of Shakespeare in classrooms around the world.
- a new World Shakespeare Festival Arts Award open to young people between the ages of 11 to 25.
- a collaboration with the British Council called “Shakespeare: A World Wide Classroom,” which includes a “wiki Shakespeare” inviting teachers and students from across the world to share information about where, how, and why Shakespeare is taught and a project connecting students in the UK with young people in India, South Africa, Oman, the USA, Hong Kong, and Czech Republic.
- the launch of specially commissioned digital materials for schools and students in a new collaboration between the RSC and BBC Learning called “Shakespeare Unlocked.”
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:
- What Country Friends Is This?—Migration, exile, shipwreck, and brave new worlds explored by a single company through RSC productions of The Comedy of Errors, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, directed by David Farr and Palestinian director Amir Nizar Zuabi, and, in London, a site-specific Pericles, directed by Michael Boyd, supported by BP (Stratford-upon-Avon and Roundhouse).
- Globe to Globe—37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 37 languages over the course of six weeks. Produced by Tom Bird for Shakespeare’s Globe.
- Timon of Athens—Nicholas Hytner directs Simon Russell Beale at the National Theatre.
- King Lear—Michael Attenborough directs Jonathan Pryce at the Almeida Theatre.
- Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad—The Iraqi Theatre Company explores Iraq’s rich traditions of poetry, music, and ritual across a sectarian divide (Stratford-upon-Avon and Riverside Studios. In Arabic with English surtitles).
- Two Roses for Richard III—Brazil’s Companhia BufoMecânica creates a grand spectacle of circus and theatre inspired by Shakespeare’s Histories (Stratford-upon-Avon and Roundhouse. In Portuguese with English surtitles).
- Julius Caesar—Gregory Doran’s production finds dark contemporary echoes in sub-Saharan Africa (Stratford-upon-Avon, Roundhouse, Theatre Royal Newcastle).
- I, Cinna (The Poet)—Tim Crouch engages young audiences of 11-plus in the story of Cinna the poet from Julius Caesar (Stratford-upon-Avon), project partnered by Cisco.
- In a Pickle—A voyage through Shakespeare’s imagination for very young audiences aged 2 to 4 created by Oily Cart (Stratford-upon-Avon, Stratford Circus, Northern Stage).
- Nations at War season—Richard III, King John, and A Soldier in Every Son: An Aztec Trilogy. A single RSC company explores Shakespeare and three plays about the intrigue of a century of Aztec civilization by Luis Mario Moncada, one of Mexico’s leading playwrights (Stratford-upon-Avon).
- Troilus and Cressida—Elizabeth LeCompte and Rupert Goold collaborate on an RSC and Wooster Group multimedia production of Shakespeare’s epic Trojan play (Stratford-upon-Avon).
- Much Ado about Nothing—Meera Syal plays Beatrice in a production set in India, directed by Iqbal Khan (Stratford-upon-Avon).
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It)—Russian director Dmitry Krymov’s radical reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s magical play (Stratford-upon-Avon and Edinburgh International Festival. In Russian with English surtitles).
- A Tender Thing—Ben Power weaves the words of Romeo and Juliet into a touching story about lovers in old age. Kathryn Hunter revisits the role she played in 2009 (Stratford-upon-Avon).
- Desdemona—A collaboration among the acclaimed Toni Morrison, Malian singer/songwriter Rokia Traoré, and Peter Sellars at the Barbican.
- Cymbeline—Directed by Japan’s leading classical director Yukio Ninagawa at the Barbican (in Japanese with English surtitles).
- The Dark Side of Love—A dreamlike journey into the depths of what we do for love, performed by teenagers in an atmospheric space beneath the Roundhouse.
- Macbeth: Leila and Ben—A Bloody History—Artistes, Producteurs, Associés from Tunisia combine Shakespeare with film and reportage (LIFT at Riverside Studios, Northern Stage. In Arabic with English surtitles).
- West Side Story—The 20th century music-theatre masterpiece seen anew through 21st century eyes, with Will Tuckett creating its first wholly new choreography. Part of the RSC’s Open Stages project.
- The Rest Is Silence—dreamthinkspeak’s meditation on Hamlet performed within a large-scale installation (LIFT at Riverside Studios, Brighton Festival, Northern Stage).
- Coriolanus—National Theatre Wales’ site-specific production reimagined in an era of 24-hour news (Dragon Film Studios, Bridgend).
- Forests—Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Barcelona Internacional Teatre create a new production inspired by the forest scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, directed by Calixto Bieito (Birmingham. In Catalan and English with surtitles).
- 2007: Macbeth—Grzegorz Jarzyna directs this free adaptation of Macbeth in a Teatr Warszawa production at Edinburgh International Festival (in Polish with English surtitles).
World Shakespeare Festival events, exhibitions, education projects, and broadcasts include:
- Shakespeare: Staging the World—The BP Exhibition, major exhibition on the world of Shakespeare at the British Museum in collaboration with the RSC.
- Living Wallpaper—Squidsoup’s new digital project makes the walls of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre come alive with animated quotes from Shakespeare.
- The Stories of Shakespeare—A fresh look at Shakespeare through the collections of the RSC and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon.
- Open Stages—The best of the RSC’s amateur collaborators perform their Shakespeare-inspired productions on the RSCs stages during summer 2012.
- Worlds Together—An international conference for teachers exploring the value of the arts in young people’s lives from Shakespeare to the digital realm, with Tate Modern, National Theatre, British Museum, Royal Shakespeare Company, and the British Council, 6–8 September 2012.
- World Shakespeare Festival Arts Award for young people aged 11 to 25.
- Shakespeare: A World Wide Classroom—wiki research database to explore where, how, and why Shakespeare is taught in schools.
- Shakespeare: A World Wide Classroom—Connecting Classrooms project with the British Council, working with 1,500 students in the UK, India, South Africa, Oman, the USA, Hong Kong, and Czech Republic.
- Launch of Shakespeare Unlocked, a digital collaboration between BBC Learning and RSC Education based on three RSC productions, providing teachers and students with new insights into Shakespeare in workshops and performance.
- BBC Off by Heart—Shakespeare performance contest broadcast on BBCTwo.
- My Shakespeare—A digital project to map Shakespeare across the world, which kicks off with an invitation to contribute to the World Wide Classroom wiki research.
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