The Royal Shakespeare Company has launched what it is describing as the largest ever celebration of the playwright’s work by audiences.
Backed by actors including David Tennant and Paapa Essiedu, the Royal Shakespeare Community invites audiences from across the globe to keep Shakespeare’s work alive during the global shutdown, and runs alongside the RSC’s previously announced programme of digital screenings and educational resources.
It launches today (April 15) with #ShareYourShakespeare, a virtual celebration of Shakespeare in which audiences anywhere in the world can share their appreciation for his plays in whatever way they choose.
Audiences are encouraged to recreate their favourite speeches, write songs, bake cakes and create new artworks, all inspired by Shakespeare’s words, and upload images and videos to social media.
Selected contributions will be unveiled on April 23, Shakespeare’s birthday, in a major piece of online Shakespeare performance.
RSC artistic director Gregory Doran said: “With our stages currently empty, productions cancelled and our buildings temporarily closed, it feels more important than ever to connect with our audiences, artists and partners across the world through shared experiences. 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.
“That’s why we are handing control of the Royal Shakespeare Company to you, our Royal Shakespeare Community. And while we can’t be together for Shakespeare’s birthday this year, we will instead be marking the day with a global celebration in which audiences everywhere can play their part.”
Run in collaboration with the Folger Shakespeare Library, the #ShareYourShakespeare campaign is being backed by RSC alumni including Tennant and Essiedu, as well as others who have performed with the company, such as Ray Fearon, David Threlfall, John Kani, Charlotte Arrowsmith and Edward Bennett.
They have contributed to their own performance, of the All the World’s a Stage speech from As You Like It.
The RSC’s Shakespeare celebration also includes a programme of streamed productions in partnership with Marquee TV, which launched last week with Twelfth Night starring Adrian Edmondson and Kara Tointon.
The company is also broadcasting six shows as part of the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine programme, which can be accessed alongside a package of supporting educational resources produced with BBC Bitesize.