Coronavirus (COVID-19) UPDATE: See details

This Spring, the Royal Shakespeare Company will hand over its channels to the global community, in the largest ever celebration of Shakespeare by audiences in its history.

Launching on 15 April, the Royal Shakespeare Community will invite audiences from across the local, national and global community to play their part in keeping the work of Shakespeare alive. Through a newly launched programme of audience-curated performance, digital screenings and supporting educational resources, communities will celebrate a shared love of Shakespeare, and place the creativity of audiences centre stage.

#ShareYourShakespeare – a Global Celebration

The Royal Shakespeare Community programme launches with #ShareYourShakespeare – a virtual celebration in collaboration with The Folger Shakespeare Library in which audiences from across the globe are invited to share their love of Shakespeare in whatever way they choose.

Among those backing the #ShareYourShakespeare campaign is Doctor Who and Broadchurch star David Tennant, who last appeared at the RSC in Gregory Doran’s 2013 production of Richard II. Joining David are Charlotte Arrowsmith, David Bradley, Stephen Boxer, Edward Bennett, and Paapa Essiedu, who played the title role of Hamlet in Simon Godwin’s 2016 production for the RSC (soon to be broadcast on the BBC). Other RSC alumni taking part are Fleabag star Ray Fearon, writer, actor and political activist John Kani (Kunene and the King, 2019), award-winning British stage and film actresses Jane Lapotaire, Joanne Pearce and Katy Stephens, and David Threlfall, star of the RSC’s 2016 production of Don Quixote and the long-running Channel 4 TV series Shameless.

Whether performing a speech, baking a cake, painting a picture, serenading a neighbour over the garden fence or teaching your dog to bark Macbeth, #ShareYourShakespeare will bring together famous faces from the RSC’s celebrated performance history with current acting company, Associate Schools, partner theatres and community theatre-makers around the world. Together they will create a virtual celebration of shared creativity, community spirit, and the enduring power of storytelling.

The most creative, surprising and inspiring contributions will be unveiled on Thursday 23 April, William Shakespeare’s Birthday, through the online premiere of the biggest, Shakespeare performance delivered by and for the global community.

Audiences everywhere are invited to Share their Shakespeare by film or photograph, in any way they like and upload it to Instagram, Twitter or Youtube, tagging @theRSC and using the hashtag #ShareYourShakespeare from Wed 15 April onwards.

Ideas for sharing YOUR Shakespeare MIGHT include:

 

Gregory Doran, Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, said:

‘As a global pandemic cuts us off from one another in ways we could never have imagined, and with everyday life as we know it brought to an indefinite standstill, we need stories now, more than ever before. They help to make sense of the world around us and to bring us together, and who better to articulate our collective hopes, anxieties, fears and joys than William Shakespeare. His words, speeches and stories speak to us all in different ways whilst, at the same time, uniting us across borders, languages and cultures.

‘With our stages currently empty, productions cancelled, and our buildings temporarily closed, it feels more important than ever to connect with our audiences, artists and partners across the world through shared experiences. Together we can celebrate those everyday acts of human creativity and resilience that continue to inspire us, raise a smile and propel us forward, together in times of crisis. That’s why we are handing control of the Royal Shakespeare Company to you, our Royal Shakespeare Community. And whilst we can’t be together for Shakespeare’s birthday this year, we will instead be marking the day with a global celebration in which audiences everywhere can play their part’.

Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, added; “What do people do when they find themselves in strange, challenging circumstances? They improvise. The Folger Shakespeare Library is adapting to the current pandemic as so many others are doing: by finding community wherever we can and engaging in new ways. One of the greatest virtues of Shakespeare’s characters is their ability to improvise. Think of Viola emerging from a shipwreck on the coast of Ilyria – someone who has been displaced, stressed, and called to do new things.

 

We are challenging ourselves and others to try new things in the spirit of Shakespearean improv – and to share them with a global community. Creativity comes in many forms, and while very few of us could sit down during a pandemic and write King Lear – as Shakespeare is thought to have done – we can make the most of what we have. Join family members and friends, take whatever you have around you, and be part of a Shakespeare takeover in your own place of refuge. It doesn’t matter where you start or finish, how polished your results. We just want to show what ordinary creative people – which means, all people – can do when we put our minds and hearts together in a time of crisis. Just because we are sheltering in place doesn’t mean we can’t create in place too!”

 

Home Learning with the RSC

This news follows the previously announced partnership with BBC Culture in Quarantine to bring broadcasts of six of the nation’s best-loved Shakespeare titles via BBC Four and BBC iPlayer between now and September. A full broadcast schedule will be announced shortly.

A supporting package of free educational activities and resources produced in partnership with BBC Bitesize online will be made available to schoolchildren studying Shakespeare from home across the UK from 20 April onwards.

#AlmostLiveFromTheRSC

Following the digital ‘premiere’ of Twelfth Night on Sat 11 April featuring Adrian Edmondson as Malvolio and Kara Tointon as Olivia, the Royal Shakespeare Company is partnering with Marquee TV, to bring the magic of live theatre to audiences living rooms this Spring.

Audiences can enjoy streamed versions of up to 17 Royal Shakespeare Company productions via www.marquee.tv, the on demand streaming service for arts and culture.

For more press information please contact:
Kate Evans
Media and Communications Manager, Royal Shakespeare Company
kate.evans@rsc.org.uk

Notes to editors:

Culture In Quarantine across television, radio and online, will give the nation access to the arts at a time when we need it the most. Providing extraordinary access to shuttered exhibitions, performances and museums, a virtual book festival and much more besides. The BBC mission is to increase access to the arts, at a time when the buildings that support them are closed, and to support artists and arts organisations in the process.

The six productions chosen by the Royal Shakespeare Company to be included in Culture in Quarantine are all currently part of the UK education syllabus.  They are Hamlet (2016, directed by Simon Godwin, with Paapa Essiedu in the title role); Macbeth (2018, directed by Polly Findlay, with Christopher Ecclestone in the title role and Niamh Cusack as Lady Macbeth); Much Ado About Nothing (2014, directed by Christopher Luscombe, with Edward Bennett as Benedick and Michelle Terry as Beatrice); Othello (2015, directed by Iqbal Khan, with Hugh Quarshie in the title role and Lucian Msamati as Iago); Romeo and Juliet (2018, directed by Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, with Bally Gill as Romeo and Karen Fishwick as Juliet); and The Merchant of Venice (2015, directed by Polly Findlay, with Makram J. Khoury as Shylock).

BBC Bitesize Daily is the BBC’s enhanced educational offering designed to support the curriculum and educational needs of children across the nation during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Over 14 weeks, it will broadcast daily programmes to help guide parents and children through their learning day; daily online lessons for all age groups; and content such as videos, quizzes, podcasts and articles to bring core subjects to life.

Other big name partners the Premier League and Puffin Books are also on board as well as some of the country’s best teachers and household names like CBBC and Strictly favourite, Karim Zeroul and Strictly’s Oti Mabuse.

WITH THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS

The RSC is supported using public funding by Arts Council England

The RSC Acting Companies are generously supported by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Kovner Foundation

The RSC is also generously supported by RSC America.

The work of the RSC Education Department is generously supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Adobe, The Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust, The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Samsung, The Schroder Foundation, The Polonsky Foundation, GRoW @ Annenberg, The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity, The Ernest Cook Trust, Teale Charitable Trust, The Grimmitt Trust, TAK Advisory Limited and Stratford Town Trust.

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk

The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world.  We produce an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers.

We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre.  We reach 530,000 children and young people annually through our education work, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online.

Everyone at the RSC – from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians – plays a part in creating the world you see on stage.  All our productions begin life at our Stratford workshops and theatres and we bring them to the widest possible audience through our touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity. So wherever you experience the RSC, you experience work made in Shakespeare’s home town.  Registered charity no. 212481 rsc.org.uk

Share this post