The Programme

Sonnet parcels, animated assassinations and hip-hop Shakespeare in night clubs: these are just some of the intriguing ingredients in next year’s celebrations in Oxford, to mark 400 years since the death of William Shakespeare – playwright, poet, actor, and arguably the greatest writer ever in the English language.

Special events are being planned around the City for Shakespeare Oxford 2016, offering an exciting array of exhibitions, drama, poetry, film showings, art, music and dance. Conferences, talks and schools projects are also included –and many of Oxfordshire’s 30-plus cultural organisations will also be joining in the party with their own anniversary contributions.

Oxford’s great creative, cultural, and educational bodies are working together to create a vibrant and inspiring festival. Our professional theatre companies will reinterpret Shakespeare’s plays, presenting some work in unusual spaces. Scholars will share their expert knowledge. Actors, artists and musicians will present their responses. And libraries, museums, bookshops, and publishers will fire our imagination and feed our minds.

Highlights of the programme:

  • ‘The Complete Works’ – The festival team has set a challenge to present the full canon of Shakespeare’s plays at venues across the city throughout the year and we need the help of drama groups and schools to claim the last remaining plays before we go to print in December.
  • Shakespeare JubileeShakespeare’s birth (and death) day week, 22nd – 30th April, packed full of activity including a ‘Birthday Parade’ visiting ‘The Painted Room’, bands playing Shakespeare songs in The Weston Library, Hip Hop Richard II at 02 Academy, concerts, manga book events and more.
  • Shakespeare’s Dead – a major Shakespeare exhibition at the Bodleian Library curated by Dr Emma Smith and Professor Simon Palfrey of the University of Oxford’s English Faculty, exploring themes of death in Shakespeare’s works.
  • Speak the Speech – Theatre Directors and actors team up with Shakespeare scholars in a series of high profile lectures by the University of Oxford English Faculty – bringing scholarship to life in unusual spaces.
  • Shakespeare under the Sky’ – The Globe Theatre on tour performance heading up the ‘Shakespeare under the Sky’ summer performance season which includes a roving performance by Creation Theatre Company, an Oxford Shakespeare Festival of plays at Oxford Castle, Oxford Shakespeare Company in Wadham Gardens and English Repertory Theatre in University Parks.
  • The New Oxford Shakespeare – The launch of a landmark new edition, The New Oxford Shakespeare by Oxford University Press added to special Shakespeare literary events at Blackwell’s.
  • Oxford Shakespeare Schools Programme including a range of interesting workshops, professional performance opportunities for school productions, animation workshops for primary schools and Shakespeare-themed carnival puppet-making for Cowley Road Carnival.

For drama lovers, the year kicks off with Creation Theatre Company’s King Lear in Blackwell’s Norrington Room, one of three Shakespeare plays in their 2016 season. Oxford Playhouse, The Old Fire Station, The North Wall and Pegasus Theatre will all be programming ground-breaking Shakespeare performances.

Next year holds many treats for music lovers, including Silver Sounds & Moody Food Concert promoted by Music at Oxford and Food of Love Shakespeare music and film event at SJE Arts. Ultimate Picture Palace will present a Shakespeare Teen Movie and Musical Season as well as the best Shakespeare classic films.

Walk in the footsteps that Shakespeare trod and visit the ‘painted room’ where he is said to have stayed.

Shakespeare Oxford 2016 aims to light up the City next year in new and unusual ways, turning the spotlight on a rich array of Shakespearean expertise and creative innovation. A key ingredient is collaboration, with new partnerships, new ideas and new events for Oxford, inspired by Shakespeare.

Download the programme of April – August events here (pdf)