The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 22.0125 Sunday, 19 June 2011
Date: Sunday, June 19, 2011
Subject: Shakespeare and 2012 Olympics
From Mike Jensen, I learned of this article from The Observer.
Shakespeare gets the starring role in cultural celebration alongside Olympics
Experts ask if the Bard is Britain's only exportable brand as leading organisations recruit playwright for Games
The Observer, 29 May 2011
This country may be the birthplace of Chaucer, Milton, Austen, the Brontë sisters and Dickens, but Britain has only one dominant calling card on the global cultural scene: William Shakespeare. It is now clear that the Bard and his works will loom large in the British arts festival that is planned to run alongside the Olympic Games in London next year.
The BBC reveals today that Patrick Stewart, David Morrissey, Rory Kinnear, Lindsay Duncan, David Suchet and James Purefoy are to appear together in the first of a run of four big-budget Shakespeare plays to be made for television by Sam Mendes's production company to celebrate the Cultural Olympiad.
With filming for Richard II, starring Ben Whishaw, starting on location at Pembroke Castle and St David's Cathedral in Wales next month, the BBC and Mendes's Neal Street Productions are joining a long line-up of major arts organisations who have chosen to wave a Shakespearean banner in the warm-up to the Games.
The British Museum is to mount a major exhibition about the Bard next year, while, more predictably, the Globe Theatre in London and the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon have all announced extensive Shakespeare projects to mark the occasion. BBC2's Richard II, adapted and directed by Rupert Goold, the award-winning associate director at the RSC, will be followed by adaptations of Henry IV parts I and II and Henry V, all set in the medieval era.
The BBC is also to mark the occasion with a two-part documentary series about Shakespeare, written and presented by historian Simon Schama to complement the new screen adaptations of the plays.
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Nevertheless next year, again from 23 April onwards, the World Shakespeare Festival, produced by the RSC in collaboration with other venues in London, including the Roundhouse, the Barbican and the National Theatre, will be staging productions and events across the country. The RSC's own contribution to the festival will include "What Country, friends, is this?", a selection of plays in which Shakespeare shipwrecks his characters on hostile shores.
At the British Museum, the exhibition "London 1612: Shakespeare's Theatre of the World" will look at the role of the emerging capital in his plays. More than 150 exhibits include the rare Ides of March coin commemorating the murder of Julius Caesar on 15 March 44BC and a copy of the revered first folio of the plays, published in 1623. Leading Shakespearean actors, such as Simon Callow, are also to take part in a special performance for the museum.
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