MIL OSI – Source: British Council – New Zealand joins biggest ever global celebration of Shakespeare

NZ will participate in Shakespeare Lives, an unprecedented global programme of events and activities celebrating Shakespeare’s life on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.

Launched today, the activities will include visits to NZ from a leading practitioner at the Globe Theatre London, working in partnership with the Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ.

Patrick Spottiswoode, Director Globe Education, will attend the National SGCNZ University of Otago Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival and other engagements at tertiary institutes and in relation to the Globe to Globe Hamlet Tour.

Acclaimed NZ actor

Shakespeare Lives is an invitation to the world to join in the celebrations by participating in a unique online collaboration and experiencing the work of Shakespeare directly on stage, through film, exhibitions and in schools.

Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, British Council said: “Power struggles, brutal politics, murder, love, passion, bitter feuds, human weakness and plain farce are universal themes as relevant now as they were when Shakespeare was writing. Shakespeare Lives will engage audiences overseas and in the UK with both the work of the Bard and with the best of contemporary Britain and will open up opportunities for UK institutions, businesses and organisations to work around the world, and for organisations around the world in the UK.”

The programme aims to reach over half a billion people around the world. The British Council and the GREAT Britain campaign are working with host of British theatres, museums, educators and artists on brand new productions of Shakespeare’s plays, film adaptations, public readings and educational resources for schools and English language learners of all ages in the UK and around the world.

Engaging over half a billion people

Launching this autumn, Shakespeare Lives will run throughout 2016, exploring Shakespeare as a living writer who still speaks for all people and nations. Activities across English, education and the arts will explore the story of how a playwright from England came to be shared all over the globe. A major highlight will be All The World’s A Stage, a mass participation project that will invite people from all over the world to upload and share clips of themselves performing lines from Shakespeare plays. It

Rawiri Paratene is the only non-British actor travelling by boat, train, plane and

tall-ship across seven continents from village squares to national theatres, starting and ending at The

Globe theatre over the next two years following what would have been The Bard’s 450th birthday.

This ‘never been done before’ venture opens at The Globe on April 23rd, 2014 (Shakespeare’s 450th

birthday) then will be taken to EVERY country on the planet – 205 in all – over the next two years.

Even countries as small as Samoa and the Solomon Islands can expect performances.


will culminate in a record breaking, crowd-sourced performance and a new digital version of Shakespeare works.

Research carried out for the British Council in five overseas countries in 2014 showed Shakespeare’s enduring status as the UK’s greatest cultural icon in the eyes of the world. When young adults were asked to name a person they are interested in and associate with contemporary UK Arts and culture, William Shakespeare was by far the most popular response.

Other Highlights of Shakespeare Lives include:

  • –  Screenings of leading Shakespeare productions including the film of Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre’s Hamlet starring Maxine Peake as well as a new film adaptation of a Shakespeare play developed by Indian and UK Asian filmmakers.
  • –  A MOOC (massive open online course) aimed at intermediate level English language learners exploring the key themes and characters in Shakespeare’s plays and his continuing resonance around the world. Other teaching resources include Shakespeare-themed lesson plans for all levels, a series of webinars for English language teachers and animated Shakespeare stories for children.
  • –  The British Council is offering ten research and development grants for artists and companies to develop new collaborative project ideas with counterparts overseas.
  • –  A global tour of Royal Society of Literature poets who have written responses to the Sonnets. There will also be opportunities for emerging poets and graphic novelists from around the world.
  • –  A global short filmmaking competition in partnership with straight 8 called ‘Bitesize Bard’ that invites budding filmmakers from around the world to reinterpret one of eight iconic Shakespeare scenes in a single take. The twelve best films will be selected by a renowned panel taken from the world of theatre and film with prizes awarded.
  • –  A series of workshops and public panel discussions on Shakespeare in translation involving world renowned academics, experts and performers in partnership with the National Centre for Writing and Shakespeare’s Globe.
  • –  Inspiring global celebrations of Shakespeare Day a downloadable toolkit will be developed in partnership with Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. It will include a Shakespeare speech available in many world languages and fun resources such as a Shakespeare quiz, Elizabethan recipes and playlists.
  • –  World Voice, the British Council’s international singing programme for young people, will commission a special Shakespeare-inspired song that will feature in the World Voice songbook. The song will be used in World Voice workshops and teacher training sessions around the world, and will be sung by children at a variety of events during 2016.
  • –  A touring programme of the best British Shakespeare films available to screen internationally in partnership with the British Film Institute. This will include everything from early silent films to new productions.

More detailed plans and partners will be announced over the coming year. Find out more at or follow the hashtag #ShakespeareLives or email

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff – including 2,000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publicly-funded grant provides 20 per cent of our turnover which last year was £864 million. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, such as English classes and taking UK examinations, and also through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.

For more information, please visit: You can also keep in touch with the British Council through and

Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.