2012 in the United Kingdom is a big year for a lot of reasons – the London Summer Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee happen this year, both of which are attracting lots of media attention. What you might not know yet is that 2012 is also a big year for Shakespeare, both in the UK and across the world.
As part of the London Olympic celebrations, the UK is hosting the biggest ever Cultural Olympiad (www.london2012.com/cultural-olympiad), in which Shakespeare is set to take centre stage. From April to October 2012, thousands of performers will travel to the UK to take part in the World Shakespeare Festival, which will feature over 70 theatrical productions and events inspired in some way by Shakespeare. The Festival kicks off with the Globe to Globe season at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, in which companies from 37 countries will perform each of Shakespeare’s 36 plays (plus one narrative poem) in 37 different languages over six weeks. At the same time the Royal Shakespeare Company will be staging its Shipwreck Trilogy (The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, and Twelfth Night), specially developed for the Festival, as well as hosting new adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays from companies from around the world. The fun isn’t limited to London and Stratford-upon-Avon, though – productions will also be staged in Brighton, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bridgend, Edinburgh, and the Vale of Glamorgan, and many of the companies that are travelling from abroad will also be staging their Shakespeare productions in their home countries.
Wherever you’ll be this summer, you can track the progress of the World Shakespeare Festival – and comment on its offerings – through a new digital project dedicated to documenting the performances and events that are a part of it. Led by the Shakespeare Institute, the University of Warwick, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Year of Shakespeare includes reviews of each of the 70+ performances from a team of Shakespeare academics, as well as special features from a variety of artists, theatregoers, and educators involved in the festivities. Most exciting of all, it includes space for Shakespeare enthusiasts across the world to comment on and discuss the productions and events associated with the Festival. So whether you attend some of the shows in the UK, in your home country, or whether you read about them online, be a part of the Year of Shakespeare by visiting the project site and joining in on the global discussion.
www.yearofshakespeare.com is funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council.