Well it seems that while I’ve been busy with work (boooring) everyone else has been busy advancing their plans to celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th deathday*, and the range is astonishing – both in terms of what’s going on and who is involved.
So there’s obviously the Beeb/RSC extravaganza – and probably the best news I’ve had all year is that the best seat in the house is going to be my sofa. That’s not the only BBc production, obviously. There’s also going to be Countryfile special with Judi Dench. Yes really. If I was going to make something up it wouldn’t be that.
Then there’s all the monologues – the Globe’s Complete Walk, with a really astonishing cast list, and a stamina-testing 2.5-mile route covering 37 ten-minute films. The Guardian’s wonderfully atmospheric series – I haven’t checked them all out yet but Sam West’s understated turn as Henry V is a frontrunner. And even Parliament is getting in on the act with various MPs reading speeches available on the Parliamentary Twitter feed – you’ll have to scroll through the various petitions and whatnot to find them, and when you do I fear, alas, they confirm that the people included made the right choice when they went for politics over the theatre.
Some folks are veering slightly further from Shakespeare’s texts. Malorie Blackman has written a gender-reversed Othello set in 2164, while Jeanette Winterson has modernised The Winter’s Tale. Goodreads has various writers inserting deleted scenes into Shakespeare’s plays here (check out Jasper FForde’s Scooby-Doo ending to Hamlet) and invites you to write your own.
Not a fan of reading? Music’s covered too with an album by Rufus Wainwright based on the Sonnets, and the European Broadcasting Union (major claim to fame: the Eurovision Song Contest) producing a number of unusual-sounding pieces…
There are far too many events for me to list them all – let alone get to them, alas! The best round-up I’ve found so far is this one in the Guardian, which helpfully splits them out by location too.
* Thanks to JK and Sir Nicholas Mimsy de Porpington for that useful term.