Plans Announced for World Shakespeare Festival, Featuring Simon Russell Beale, Jonathan Pryce, Wooster Group

News   Plans Announced for World Shakespeare Festival, Featuring Simon Russell Beale, Jonathan Pryce, Wooster Group
Details of some 70 productions have been announced for the World Shakespeare Festival, billed as a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright, that will run from April 23, 2012-November 2012 to constitute the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad that coincides with Britain hosting next year’s Olympic Games.

Simon Russell Beale
Simon Russell Beale Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Highlights of the program, which is being produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and involves over 50 international arts organizations, follow: Simon Russell Beale will play the title role of Timon of Athens for the National Theatre in July 2012 under the direction of Nicholas Hytner, and Jonathan Pryce will return to the Almeida to star as King Lear (Aug. 31-Nov. 3, 2012). Shakespeare’s Globe will present Globe to Globe, a season of all 37 plays, presented in 37 different languages, over a six-week season, running April 23- June 3, 2012.

The RSC will itself stage new productions of Richard III, King John, The Comedy of Errors, The Tempest and Twelfth Night, the latter two of which will feature Jonathan Slinger as Prospero and Malvolio, respectively; a site-specific production of Pericles, directed by RSC artistic director Michael Boyd, and Julius Caesar, relocated to sub-Saharan Africa, that will be directed by Gregory Doran. These productions will run in Stratford-upon-Avon between March and October, in tandem with a London season from June to October.

The RSC’s Rupert Goold will also join forces with the Wooster Group’s Elizabeth LeCompte to colloborate on a new multi-media production of Troilus and Cressida (running Aug. 3-18 in Stratford-upon-Avon), and Meera Syal will play Beatrice in an RSC production of Much Ado About Nothing, set in India (in rep July 26-Sept. 15, 2012 in Stratford-upon-Avon); and Russian director Dmitry Krymov will stage a radical re-interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, subtitled As You Like It, which will be presented in Russian with English surtitles (in Stratford-upon-Avon from Aug. 10-18, then at the Edinburgh International Festival). The RSC will also stage A Soldier in Every Son: An Aztec Trilogy, three plays exploring the intrigue of a century of Aztec civilization by Luis Mario Moncada, one of Mexico’s leading playwrights (running June 29-July 28 in Stratford-upon-Avon).

Amongst a host of international collaborations, Brazil’s Companhia BufoMecanica will present Two Roses for Richard III, a grand spectacle of circus and theatre inspired by Shakespeare’s Histories, that will be presented both at Stratford-upon-Avon (May 7-12), then at London’s Roundhouse. Japan’s leading classical director, Yukio Ninagawa, will return to the Barbican to direct Cymbeline (May 29-June 20), and Birmingham Rep will join forces with Barcelona Internacional Teatre to create Forests, a production inspired by the forest scenes in Shakespeare’s plays that will be directed by Calixto Bieito (running at Birmingham’s Old Rep Theatre Aug. 31-Sept. 15). From Poland, Tr Warszawa will bring 2007: Macbeth, a free adaptation of Macbeth, to the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2012. A full-scale production of West Side Story will be staged at Newcastle’s Sage Gateshead, directed and choreographed by Will Tuckett (July 4-7, 2012).

There will also be a large-scale installation, The Rest is Silence, a meditation on Hamlet from immersive company dreamthinkspeak that will open as part of the Brighton Festival (May 5-27, 2012), before coming to London’s Riverside Studios as part of LIFT (June 12-23) and then transferring to Newcastle’s Northern Stage (June 26-30); The Dark Side of Love, performed by a cast of teenagers at London’s Roundhouse (June 25-July 8, 2012); and Coriol/Us, a site-specific production of Coriolanus re-imagined in an era of 24 hour news, being staged by National Theatre Wales at the Dragon Film Studios, Bridgend (August 2012). 

 These are just some of the highlights of the World Shakespeare Festival, which will also include a major exhibition Shakespeare: Staging the World at the British Museum, eduation and community projects. For full details, visit, or

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