World Congress to celebrate Shakespeare’s 400-year legacy

Distinguished theatre directors from around the world, musicians, actors, and novelists, plus academics from the University of Birmingham, are to come together in a special programme of talks, seminars and debates at a landmark 2016 World Shakespeare Congress, marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

This spotlight event, to be held next summer, will begin in Stratford-upon-Avon and end in London, and is co-hosted by the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the London Shakespeare Centre at King’s College London.  It will be the International Shakespeare Association’s tenth such World Congress.

The Congress will include five special plenary sessions, hosted at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and on stage at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in Southwark, London, addressing the Congress theme of ‘Creating and Re-creating Shakespeare’:

  • Greg Doran on the Royal Shakespeare Company: This opening plenary session will feature Greg Doran, Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, who will draw on a film archive of the RSC’s work past and present, to discuss the Company’s artistic life and history.
  • Howard Jacobson in Conversation: The second session will see the Booker Prize-winning novelist Howard Jacobson in conversation with Professor Adrian Poole of the University of Cambridge, discussing Jacobson’s novelistic adaptation of The Merchant of Venice (due to be published next year by Hogarth) and the role Shakespeare has played in the history and form of the novel.
  • Dame Harriet Walter: The final Stratford plenary will take the form of a full-length lecture by the lauded British actress, and veteran Shakespearean, Dame Harriet Walter. Dame Harriet will reflect on her recent roles in all-female productions of Julius Caesar and Henry IV Parts One and Two.
  • Shakespeare and Music:  In London, Claire Van Kampen, Composer, Playwright, and founding Director of Music at Shakespeare’s Globe, will be joined on stage at the Globe by members of the theatre’s Early Music Ensemble for a combined lecture and performance on the topic of Shakespeare’s Music.
  • Global Shakespeare: Rounding off the plenaries programme, and taking up some of the ways in which Shakespeare’s plays have been reimagined around the world, will be a panel of international theatre directors of Shakespeare, chaired by the Globe’s Executive Producer Tom Bird.

Professor Michael Dobson, Director of the Shakespeare Institute, commented:  ‘There has never been an opportunity like this to examine and enjoy Shakespeare’s artistic achievements and the creativity they have now been inspiring in others for four whole centuries. Taking in the town where Shakespeare was born, lived and died, and the city where he made his career, in the company of two major theatre companies, this will be a World Shakespeare Congress like no other.’

In addition to the plenary sessions there will be a full panel and seminar programme of researchers from around the world, including the University’s Shakespeare Institute.

The World Shakespeare Congress will run from July 31-August 6 2016. or:

Early bird registration costs £325 and is available until 1 February 2016. Full price registration will cost £375.

Notes to editors

For further information please contact the Press Office, University of Birmingham: 0121 415 8134 email

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