RSC asks public to #ShareYourShakespeare for Bard's birthday

Call for creative celebrations – such as with a painting, cake or dog trick – for virtual project

When Shakespeare was in plague lockdown in 1592 he wrote his great erotic poem Venus and Adonis. The Royal Shakespeare Company is not expecting that from the public but instead, how about teaching your dog to bark the word Macbeth?

Or recreate the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene with vegetables. Shout some Hamlet over the garden fence to your neighbour. If you’ve got flour, bake a Shakespeare-themed cake.

The RSC has announced that because it cannot celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday on 23 April with physical events in Stratford-upon-Avon, it will do it virtually.

In partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, it has launched a worldwide initiative, #ShareYourShakespeare, encouraging people to think laterally to celebrate the Bard.

The project is supported by David Tennant, who recruited fellow actors including Jane Lapotaire, Paapa Essiedu and David Threlfall for a film of them delivering the monologue “All the world’s a stage”, from As You Like It.

Gregory Doran, the RSC’s artistic director, said that with productions cancelled and buildings closed, “it feels more important than ever to connect with our audiences, artists and partners across the world through shared experiences”.

He added: “Together we can celebrate those everyday acts of human creativity and resilience that continue to inspire us, raise a smile and propel us forward, together in times of crisis.”

The idea is that people everywhere film or photograph something Shakespeare-related and upload it to Twitter, Instagram or YouTube tagging @theRSC and using the hashtag #ShareYourShakespeare. Or they can email or post.

All The World’s a Stage – in lockdown

Organisers have offered a few ideas that also include: perform “All the world’s a stage” with your family; paint your favourite scene; tell a Shakespeare story using only emojis; rewrite a speech as a song. Or even teach your dog to bark some Shakespeare.

“I’d love someone to do that, wouldn’t that be brilliant,” said Kerry Radden, the head of audiences at the RSC. “When we were reaching out for ideas the first two people who came back, one said: ‘I’m going to read a sonnet to my cat,’ the other said: ‘I’m going to read a sonnet to my new puppy.’

“We are expecting the animal community to take part.”

The idea is to create a huge montage of the most surprising and creative ideas that will, on 23 April, be “the biggest ever digital birthday card to Shakespeare”.

Radden said the idea was to bring people together. “Instead of being the Royal Shakespeare Company, we want to become the Royal Shakespeare Community and embrace people’s creativity while they are stuck at home.

“Shakespeare gets into all nooks and crannies of our lives and we would love to get lots of wacky, creative ideas. It is whatever Shakespeare means to you, whether that is kids dressed up performing Macbeth in the garden or baking a cake with a quote on top.

“We want it to be a happy, joyful thing which brings people together. Fun not worthy.”

Michael Witmore, the director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, said it did not matter how polished the endeavours were.

“We just want to show what ordinary creative people – which means all people – can do when we put our minds and hearts together in a time of crisis. Just because we are sheltering in place doesn’t mean we can’t create in place too.”


Mark Brown Arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Richard II – review

David Tennant is mesmerising in the first show of Gregory Doran's six-year plan to present all of Shakespeare's works, writes Michael Billington

Michael Billington

17, Oct, 2013 @10:00 PM

Article image
Gregory Doran is the right choice for the Royal Shakespeare Company
Michael Billington: Newly appointed RSC artistic director Greg Doran is a true Shakespearean, fit for the challenges ahead

Michael Billington

22, Mar, 2012 @4:51 PM

Article image
RSC plans celebration of Shakespeare's favourite classical poet
Company aims to reignite interest in Ovid, whose book the Metamorphoses is alluded to in some of the Bard’s plays

Dalya Alberge

21, Apr, 2017 @10:35 AM

Article image
Gregory Doran: ‘Shakespeare defines things when you can’t’
As the RSC’s artistic director steps down after 35 years and 50 shows, he talks about the productions he’s most proud of, his new memoir, and the loss of his husband, the actor Antony Sher

Kate Kellaway

23, Apr, 2023 @12:00 PM

Article image
Henry IV Parts I and II review – Antony Sher's magnificent, magnetic Falstaff

Royal Shakespeare theatre, Straford-upon-Avon
These plays embrace the whole range of human experience and the RSC's production is rich in psychological insight

Michael Billington

17, Apr, 2014 @12:44 PM

Article image
David Tennant's Shakespeare performance to play live in cinemas

RSC's production of King Richard II to be relayed live around the world and streamed into 1,000 British schools

Maev Kennedy

27, May, 2013 @11:02 PM

Article image
I don’t care who wrote Shakespeare, says RSC artistic director
Theatre to stage adaptation of Henry VI series, the subject of disputes over authorship

Mark Brown Arts correspondent

04, Feb, 2020 @2:30 PM

Article image
RSC plans Stratford garden theatre for summer reopening
Temporary performance space will be ‘symbol of regeneration’ and stepping stone to return indoors

Mark Brown Arts correspondent

22, Apr, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
RSC completes £8m project to update theatre’s costume department
The Guardian given preview of teams making props and costumes for The Comedy of Errors

Mark Brown Arts correspondent

10, Jun, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Royal Shakespeare Company to stage Robert Harris's Cicero trilogy
Described by director as ‘Rome meets the West Wing’, six-play adaption will be grand finale of the company’s Rome season

Maev Kennedy

01, Feb, 2017 @4:23 PM