World Shakespeare Festival launches

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The World Shakespeare Festival celebrates Shakespeare as the world's playwright, studied by half the world's children.

World Shakespeare Festival Director Deborah Shaw announced the programme, which runs from 23 April to November 2012, at an event at the British Museum this week.

The launch of the international festival coincides with new research findings, released by the RSC and the British Council, showing the global significance of Shakespeare by revealing that 50% of the world's children study Shakespeare at school.

RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd 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.'

As well as showcasing the best of UK and international creative talent, the Festival encourages the creativity of young people, emerging artists and amateur companies. Hundreds of amateur groups and thousands of teachers and young people will take part.

Productions will take place across the UK, including London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Newcastle/Gateshead, Birmingham, Wales and Scotland as well as online. Over a million tickets will be on sale from 10 October.

Other major events will include:

  • 'Shakespeare: staging the world – The BP Exhibition' – a British Museum exhibition, exploring the world through the eyes of Shakespeare, his players and audiences in the changing world of the 17th century
  • An international education conference at Tate Modern (September 2012)
  • Major new research exploring Shakespeare's continuing impact on classrooms across the world
  • The World Shakespeare Festival Arts Award, open to young people aged 11–25 anywhere in the world

Further programming, including free events, broadcasts and a major digital project allowing people all over the world to become involved, will be announced in the New Year.

The World Shakespeare Festival forms part of London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, bringing leading artists from all over the world together in a UK-wide celebration.

Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and supported by BP as Founding Presenting Partner, the World Shakespeare Festival is an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations, and with Globe to Globe, a major international programme produced by Shakespeare's Globe.

Launching the Festival at the British Museum, Deborah was joined by arts leaders from across the UK and the world, including Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum; Michael Boyd, Artistic Director, Royal Shakespeare Company; Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director, Shakespeare's Globe; Ruth Mackenzie, Director of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival.

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