With just 26 days to go until the launch of the World Shakespeare Festival, which begins on Monday 23rd April and runs until November 2012 as part of the London 2012 Festival, audiences can look forward to the biggest celebration of the world famous playwright ever staged. Thousands of artists from around the world will take part and anyone who wants to stay in London for the festival can book one of the London hotels on the website LondonTown.com.
It’s an ambitious project on a scale never seen before featuring collaborations with leading UK and international arts organisations and over a million tickets available for a programme which includes 23 brand new productions – 21 of which were commissioned specially for the festival. With almost 70 productions, events and exhibitions taking place across the UK, including London, the World Shakespeare Festival has something of interest for all ages and all nationalities.
In London, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre is staging Globe to Globe in which 37 of Shakespeare’s plays are performed in 37 languages in six weeks. Further highlights include Nicholas Hytner directing Simon Russell Beale in Timon of Athens at the National Theatre, Michael Attenborough directing Jonathan Pryce in King Lear at the Almeida Theatre, and Gregory Doran – who will succeed Michael Boyd as Artistic Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, it has recently been announced – who stages a production of Julius Caesar at the Roundhouse.
Doran’s Julius Caesar is one of two Royal Shakespeare Company productions which will premiere in Stratford-upon-Avon during the summer and then transfer to London’s West End. Iqbal Khan’s Much Ado About Nothing, with Meera Syal in the leading role of Beatrice, will also transfer to the Noel Coward Theatre from August.
From 19th July, visitors to the British Museum will be treated to Staging the World, a major exhibition – complemented by a 20-part BBC Radio 4 series to be broadcast in April – which illustrates the emerging role of London as a world city 400 years ago through the perspective of Shakespeare’s plays.
There’s a grass roots aspect to the festival with over 260 amateur groups involving 7200 people (aged from 6 to 90) taking part in Open Stages, a project coordinated by the Royal Shakespeare Company and nine partner theatres. These amateur productions will be staged in castles, churches, parks and pubs, and some will perform at the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon home.
Thousands of teachers and young people will take also part in the festival which will create a legacy for young people through a number of projects including Worlds Together, an international conference that explores the influence of Shakespeare who is already studied by 50% of the world’s school children.
World Shakespeare Festival events are taking place across the UK, not only in London but also in Shakespeare’s home of Stratford-upon-Avon as well as Newcastle/Gateshead, Birmingham, Brighton, Wales and Scotland. For the full festival guide visit www.worldshakespearefestival.org.uk and for more information on planning a trip to London visit LondonTown.com, a useful resource for visitors and local residents with listings on everything from Shakespeare to shopping. Find and book hotels and restaurants, and discover the best festivals and events happening in London this spring and summer.