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BobCescaBobCesca Registered User regular
edited October 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse

A celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright

Over 50 arts organisations
Thousands of UK and international artists
7200 amateur theatre makers and thousands of teachers and young people
70 productions and exhibitions, plus events and activities, right across the UK and online
One million tickets on sale from 10 October
Plus new research from the RSC and the British Council which shows 50% of the world’s school children study Shakespeare
Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum; Michael Boyd, Artistic Director, Royal Shakespeare Company; Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director, Shakespeare’s Globe; Ruth Mackenzie, Director of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival; Deborah Shaw, World Shakespeare Festival Director and arts leaders from across the UK and the world joined together at the British Museum today to announce the programme for the World Shakespeare Festival and BP’s sponsorship as Founding Presenting Partner.

The World Shakespeare Festival (WSF) is a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations, and with Globe to Globe, a major international programme produced by Shakespeare’s Globe. It runs from 23 April to November 2012 and 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.

The World Shakespeare Festival is supported by BP, as Founding Presenting Partner, and by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor and Arts Council England.

Thousands of artists and over 50 arts organisations have come together to take part in the Festival, a collaboration of extraordinary scale and ambition. Over a million tickets go on public sale from 10 October for close to 70 productions, plus events and exhibitions across the UK, including London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle/Gateshead, Birmingham, Brighton, Wales and Scotland as well as online.

The Festival includes a major exhibition Shakespeare: staging the world - The BP Exhibition 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 (who will be launching their Shakespeare season in November); 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 encourages the creativity of young people, emerging artists and amateur companies. Over 260 amateur groups involving 7200 people (aged from 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 take also part in the Festival. New research findings, released today by the RSC and the British Council (see notes to editors 3), show the extent of Shakespeare’s influence in education systems around the world by revealing that 50% 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 aged between 11–25.
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.

Michael Boyd, RSC Artistic Director, said:

“Shakespeare is no longer English property. He is the favourite playwright and artist of the whole world, and studied at school by half the world's children.

“People of all races, creeds and continents have chosen to gather around his work to share stories of what it is like to be human. To fall in love or fall from grace. To be subject to the abuse of power or to live with the dreams of angels in the shadow of our own mortality.

“The World Shakespeare Festival celebrates this most international of artists at a time when the eyes of the world will be on London, that most international of cities, for the Olympic Games.

“We also pay tribute to the skill and expertise of teachers around the world, with an international education conference at Tate Modern in September and launch a major new piece of research exploring Shakespeare’s continuing impact on classrooms across the world.

“I’m very grateful to our funders, the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor, Arts Council England and LOCOG, and to our major sponsor, BP, whom we announce today as Founding Presenting Partner of the World Shakespeare Festival.”

Deborah Shaw, World Shakespeare Festival Director, said:

”Four years ago, we began conversations with artists, producers, educationalists and curators from across the UK and the world, to seed and shape a festival that celebrates Shakespeare and redefines what a festival can be in this era of globalisation.

“Out of that rewarding dialogue has come the World Shakespeare Festival – a celebration with real heart, created in a true spirit of collaboration, with a programme which includes 23 brand new productions - 21 of which were commissioned specially for the Festival.

“It’s a concentration of creative energy around a shared vision which we hope will catch something of the zeitgeist, will delight audiences and inspire a whole new generation of artists.”

Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe, said:

“Next year, we throw open the doors of the Globe theatre to the world. All the plays of Shakespeare will be performed in just six weeks in thirty seven different languages.

“Many of the world’s greatest directors, over six hundred actors from all nations, and audiences from all over the world, and from every corner of our polyglot, multi-cultural community, will assemble to celebrate the stories, the characters and the relationships, which are etched into all of us. Shakespeare is the language which brings us together better than any other, and which reminds of our almost infinite difference, and of our strange and humbling commonality.

“A Globe by the Thames is where the wonderful cultural and imaginative journey of these plays began. Another Globe by the Thames is honoured to be inviting Shakespeare back home, dressed in the clothes of many different peoples.”

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, said:

“Four hundred years ago people went to the playhouse to learn about the world. In 2012 people visit museums to understand cultures past and present and their place in a changing world. The British Museum will present a unique take on the way in which Shakespeare staged the world for an increasingly diverse audience in the 17th century, at a pivotal point in our history. We are very excited to be collaborating with the RSC on this important exhibition and proud to be a part of the World Shakespeare Festival and the London 2012 Festival.”

Ruth Mackenzie. Director of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, said:

“Shakespeare belongs not just to the UK, but to the whole world, which is why it is right that we celebrate London 2012 with great artists from around the world performing alongside amateur groups and young people.”

Peter Mather, Group Regional Vice President, Europe and Head of Country, UK, BP said:

“BP, as Premier Partner of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival, is delighted to extend its support to the World Shakespeare Festival as Founding Presenting Partner.

"This world-class festival celebrates Shakespeare as the world’s playwright with a broad and far-reaching programme involving new local and international collaborations. We look forward to working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and our longstanding partner the British Museum in support of this truly exceptional London 2012 event.”

Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, said:

“With over a million tickets available, the World Shakespeare Festival is extraordinarily ambitious and certain to attract a new audience to the magic of Shakespeare. The launch of this remarkable series of events is testament to the hard work and passion of all those involved. It exemplifies what the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival is trying to achieve and I am sure it will be a tremendous success.”

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:

"William Shakespeare is our greatest cultural export, and is quite rightly considered to be the finest writer of all time. His work - written when this country was a boom nation leading trade around the globe and setting the foundations for modern England - is still just as relevant now as it was almost 500 years ago.

"This festival is a fantastic opportunity for these fine works to be brought to a new generation of schoolchildren, while at the same time reminding existing fans of Shakespeare's unparalleled insights into the workings of the human heart."

World Shakespeare Festival productions include:

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 different 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 BufoMecanica 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+ 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 2-4 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 civilisation 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 between 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, Associes 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)
Corionlan/us – 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 Tr 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 11-25.
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 1500 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.
Further information can be found at including ‘at a glance’ production information.

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