As part of the Cultural Olympiad – a prologue to the 2012 Olympic Games in London – over 50 arts organizations have come together to create the World Shakespeare Festival.
With more than half of the world’s schoolchildren study Shakespeare, the Bard is the UK’s greatest cultural export. The World Shakespeare Festival has responded to this by creating the biggest celebration of the Bard ever undertaken with events planned around the world.
We bring you some essential facts about the World Shakespeare Festival.
When is The World Shakespeare Festival?
The World Shakespeare Festival begins 23 April 2012, Shakespeare’s birthday! It finishes in November 2012 – but the main action will take place in the summer of 2012.
The World Shakespeare Festival is one of the flagship events of the Cultural Olympiad in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
How Big is The World Shakespeare Festival?
Billed as the biggest ever Shakespeare celebration – but exactly how big is big? Here are some key numbers to outline the size of the festival:
- 1 million tickets released for professional UK productions and events
- 70 productions and exhibitions across the UK
- 260 amateur groups are performing (that’s 7200 artists)
- Over 50 arts organizations working together, coordinated by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Top 10 Highlights: World Shakespeare Festival
It’s impossible to list everything that’s happening during the World Shakespeare Festival – that’s what www.worldshakespearefestival.org.uk is for!
However, here are my Top 10 highlights from the festival:
- Globe to Globe: All of Shakespeare’s 37 plays performed in 37 different languages. All crammed into just six weeks!
- Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad: An Arabic production (with English subtitles) by the Iraqi Theatre Company. The production re-tells Romeo and Juliet through Iraq’s sectarian divide.
- Shakespeare - Staging the World Exhibition: This collaboration between the RSC and the British Museum promises to be one of the most revealing and in-depth exhibitions on the life of Shakespeare ever curated. A must for all Shakespeare fans!
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It): A Russian production (with English subtitles) by legendary director Dmitry Krymov. Don’t expect a faithful telling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream! Rather, expect a radical re-telling and a provocative piece of theater.
- Troilus and Cressida: A contemporary multi-media version of Shakespeare’s classic history play from the critically-acclaimed Wooster Group.
- My Shakespeare: This digital project maps Shakespeare across the world and gives us a glimpse into how Shakespeare is taught in the classrooms of other countries.
- Stories of Shakespeare: The mammoth archive housed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon has been plundered to refresh our understanding of William Shakespeare, his life, works and legacy.
- Forests: Barcelona Internacional Teatre and Birmingham Repertory Theatre work together on a new production inspired by the forest scenes in Shakespeare’s plays. The performance is in Catalan with English subtitles.
- King Lear: Michael Attenborough directs Jonathan Pryce at the Almeida Theatre.
- In a Pickle: Take your children to this magical production that explores Shakespeare for kids aged 2-4 years old. With all the excitement that surrounds the festival, this is a great way to spark an interest in Shakespeare early on!
Which Countries are Involved in the World Shakespeare Festival?
Nearly every theater company and arts organization in the UK is involved with the World Shakespeare Festival, including The Globe Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the BBC.
However, the festival organizers have partnered with some great international companies. These include:
- Brazil: Companhia BufoMecânica
- China: Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center
- Iraq: Iraqi Theatre Company
- Japan: Ninagawa Company
- Mexico: Compañia Nacional de Teatro
- Poland: Teatr Warszawa
- Russia: Chekhov International Theatre Festival, Dmitry Krymov’s Laboratory and the School of Dramatic Art Theatre
- Spain: Barcelona Internacional Teatre
- Tunisia: Artistes, Producteurs, Associés
- USA: Wooster Group