World Shakespeare Festival kicks off in London
The World Shakespeare Festival (WSF) was launched yesterday (April 22) at Stratford-upon-Avon, and marked the Bard’s 448th birthday. The festival is scheduled to run from April 23 until November, and will be an important cultural event during the Olympics.
The Royal Shakespeare Company is producing the festival along with Globe to Globe, an international programme being produced by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. It will pay homage to and be a celebration of Shakespeare’s work.
Globe to Globe involves over 50 companies from across the world and will take place in different corners of Britain, from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to a film studio in Bridgend.
The celebrations will also be held at the Globe Theatre, which will host performances of Shakespeare’s plays by theatre companies from 35 countries; these will be performed in 37 different languages.
Chitra Bhatia, a student at the Chelsea College of Art and Design, said: “As part of my curriculum in India, we had to learn Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays.
"My favourite one was Julius Caesar. In high school I had to enact the part of Brutus for a competition and that was a lot of fun. I have heard about the Globe to Globe events and would want to catch Julius Caesar if I am in town when it happens.”
The festival also has a digital platform called My Shakespeare. It will include content from guest bloggers, a unique online section for users to upload their own content, a chance to create your own visualisations and artwork, and artists’ commissions that have been released on to the site.
Hector Jones, student at the London College of Communication, said: “The World Shakespeare Festival sounds interesting. I used to find it difficult to read his plays but I did enjoy reading the abridged versions of Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing.”
The British Museum will also host the exhibition Shakespeare: Staging the World as part of the festival from July 19 to November 25. It will provide unique insights into the emerging role of London shown through the perspective of Shakespeare’s plays. It will feature over 190 objects from private and national UK collections as well as pieces from abroad.
Plays to see
Macbeth: A Tunisian Macbeth, where Shakespeare's characters are reincarnated as a modern-day duo - Leila and Zine Ben Ali. Adapted by Lotfi Anchour and Anissa Daoud for Northern Stage, Newcastle. Runs from July 12 to 14.
Julius Caesar: Gregory Doran has directed a pan-African version of this historic play, transforming it into a political thriller set in modern Africa. The play opens at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford before going to the West End and on a UK tour. Runs from May 28 to July 7.
Much Ado About Nothing: The Royal Shakespeare Company's Much Ado About Nothing, which opens at The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon before transferring to the Noël Coward Theatre in London. The production transports the story of sparring would-be lovers to India. Runs from 26 July to 15 September.
Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad: The romantic tragedy is re-located to contemporary Iraq, amid tensions between Sunni and Shia communities. It will be performed at the Swan Theatre before transferring to London's Riverside Studios. Runs from April 26 to May 5.
Sonnet Sunday: As part of the Globe to Globe Festival, performers will stage Shakespeare's sonnets in more than 25 different languages.
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