Last spring we launched A Year of Shakespeare – an energetic record and review of all 73 productions which took place in the World Shakespeare Festival.
Today, those reviews, by 30 international contributors, are published as A Year of Shakespeare: Re-living the World Shakespeare Festival. It’s well illustrated and represents another innovation from Bloomsbury publishing who spotted the quality of the reviews posted as blogs and wanted to turn them into a book. If we hadn’t done this, then there would be no comprehensive and informed record of the World Shakespeare Festival.
The project invited responses to the productions and to the writing about the productions (in case you didn’t see all 73!), by way of establishing an archive of audience responses to be held here at The Shakespeare Centre. Please do still contribute to this by visiting A Year of Shakespeare and adding your comments to the posts on the various plays. Perhaps choose your favourite play and start there…
In the meantime, you might like to read the comments of Dame Margaret Drabble and Michael Wood on the book which is published today:
‘This is an extraordinary collection of essays recording the events of the World Shakespeare Festival, summoning up its kaleidoscopic diversity, its global reach, its oddities, triumphs and provocations- it’s Shakespeare criticism as you have never encountered it before, scholarly, experimental, instant, and at times bizarre. It takes Shakespeare from the stage and academe into the age of Twitter and Facebook, and makes you feel you were there, present at all those strange and wonderful productions you missed. It’s an exhilarating record of a great and successful Shakespearian adventure.’
Dame Margaret Drabble.
‘You wouldn’t have thought it still possible to produce an original book on Shakespeare: but here is one! A pioneering collection only made possible by that ‘ingenious engine, the Internet’, it’s a record of one year in the continuing and ever more productive life of the world’s greatest poet. There is really nothing quite like it.
The core of the book is a collection of reviews of productions from all over the world all of which were shown at the World Shakespeare Festival as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Reading them in their often blog-like informality only underlines the growing conviction that Shakespeare above all exists as constantly mutable texts always open to recasting and reimagining, to dissent, and even to revolt; uncannily shadowing the preoccupations of worlds he never knew- and some that even he can never have imagined. An Indian friend of mine always used to say ‘of course Shakespeare’s an Indian: look at his fathers and daughters’. And in these pages he really does belong to everybody: The Taming of the Shrew in Talib-haunted Lahore; a samurai- shadowed Japanese Coriolanus: a Palestinian Richard II crushed by power politics; ‘Two Houses’ from a still sectarian-scarred Baghdad.
Full of the freshness of the net, the book is a treasure trove of unexpected conjunctions and fabulous insights. There could not be a more timely or pertinent reminder of why Shakespeare still matters; and why, for all the great academic scholarship on him, it’s the shows that really matter: For how Shakespeare works in performance is after all the key to his magic. More than ever in these pages, as Hamlet says, ‘The play’s the thing’.’
You can order your copy of A Year of Shakespeare by clicking here.