Royal Shakespeare Company celebrates Shakespeare 400

2016 spelt out in crowns on grass

The RSC will celebrate Shakespeare as the world’s most famous playwright 400 years after his death with a live broadcast on BBC Two, our first major tour to China and a return to BAM in New York.

They will mark the anniversary with a programme of activities in Stratford, London and around the world.


  • David Tennant hosts a live broadcast on BBC Two to celebrate Shakespeare’s legacy, broadcast live from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on 23 April
  • A family-friendly, interactive exhibition explores the history of theatre in Stratford, revealing the people and stories behind the productions
  • The Other Place studio theatre reopens for performances and rehearsals
  • Costume Store tours – public tours of our world-renowned costume store begin


  • ‘King and Country: Shakespeare’s Great Cycle of Kings’ plays at the Barbican Theatre – Gregory Doran’s productions of Richard II, Henry IV Parts I & II, and Henry V play in repertoire for the first time, with most of the original cast
  • ‘RSC Shakespeare on Film’, celebrating classic productions from the archives with Barbican Cinemas

Across the UK

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation tours every UK nation and region, working with 13 partner theatres. Amateur companies from each area join the core cast to play Bottom and the Mechanicals, alongside local school children playing Titania’s fairy train.
  • Dream Team 2016 – Every UK school is invited to stage their own production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The RSC will provide a free one-hour edit of the play, a specially-composed score and other supporting resources
  • The RSC will collaborate with publishers VINTAGE Hogarth Shakespeare, exploring how Shakespeare continues to be reimagined through RSC productions and Hogarth Shakespeare’s new commissions – launching with Jeanette Winterson and Howard Jacobson, with books inspired by The Winter’s Tale and The Merchant of Venice


  • The RSC will tour to the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing, Shanghai Grand Theatre and Hong Kong Arts Festival with Henry IV Parts I & II and Henry V.
  • A ten-year cultural exchange begins with translations of Chinese classics into English and performance-based translations of Shakespeare’s plays into Chinese
  • The RSC will also work with the British Council on a new education publication for Chinese and UK schools
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music hosts all four History plays, in collaboration with The Ohio State University