London will be at the heart of a global celebration of playwright William Shakespeare next year.
The World Shakespeare Festival (WSF) will be part of the Cultural Olympiad’s London 2012 Festival ahead of the Games and will involve exhibitions and stage productions in the UK and abroad.
All of Shakespeare’s plays will be presented at The Globe in London, with one staged by the theatre itself and the other 36 plays performed in different languages by companies from around the world.
Meanwhile, Shakespeare: Staging The World – The BP Exhibition at the British Museum will explore the 17th Century through the eyes of the famous playwright.
The Roundhouse, National Theatre, Almeida Theatre, Barbican, Lift at the Riverside Studios and Stratford Circus are among the other venues in the capital that will hold productions or exhibitions between April 23 and September 9 next year.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “William Shakespeare is our greatest cultural export, and is quite rightly considered to be the finest writer of all time.
“This festival is a fantastic opportunity for these fine works to be brought to a new generation of schoolchildren, while at the same time reminding existing fans of Shakespeare’s unparalleled insights into the workings of the human heart.”
Productions will also take place across the UK and in countries such as China, Iraq, Japan, Mexico and Spain. Tickets will go on sale from October 10.
Festival director Deborah Shaw said: “The World Shakespeare Festival is a celebration with real heart, created in a true spirit of collaboration, with a programme which includes 23 brand new productions – 21 of which were commissioned specially for the festival.
“It’s a concentration of creative energy around a shared vision which we hope will catch something of the zeitgeist, will delight audiences and inspire a whole new generation of artists.”
Next year’s festival is being supported by the National Lottery and BP. It will involve more than 50 art organisations and up to 70 productions, exhibitions and events will take place around the UK.
Michael Boyd, Royal Shakespeare Company artistic director, said: “Shakespeare is no longer English property. He is the favourite playwright and artist of the whole world, and studied at school by half the world’s children.
“The World Shakespeare Festival celebrates this most international of artists at a time when the eyes of the world will be on London, that most international of cities, for the Olympic Games.”