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On 21 October 2019, Professor Michael Dobson, the Director of the Shakespeare Institute, together with his two co-directors of the Shakespeare Centre, China, namely Professor Cong Cong of Nanjing University and Dr Nan Yuan of Phoenix Press, participated in a lavish ceremony in Nanjing – also attended by the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Eastwood – which simultaneously marked the publication of new, actor-friendly Mandarin translations of Hamlet and Henry V, commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the donation to the Shakespeare Centre, China, of Y5m (approximately £600,000) from the Nanjing alumnus Xia Peng. 

Michael Dobson in a mirrored plaque

Xia Peng is the founder and director of Youlin Youke, a company which provides online courses in English language and culture to over 1.5m Chinese learners: with its strong interest in Shakespeare and its slogan of ‘Learn from the useless, and free the soul,’ Youlin Youke is a natural ally of the Institute!  Among other things, the fund established by this donation will enable the Centre to run an annual pan-Chinese competitive festival of student performance and translation, starting in May 2020, the prizewinners of which will spend a week in Stratford in the autumn.

Michael Dobson stands in front of a Shakespeare Night Fever poster

During a busy week in China, Professor Dobson also addressed the Chinese Shakespeare Association, was made an honorary professor of Henan Normal University, performed the role of King Lear opposite the distinguished academic and translator Lu Yuefeng as Gloucester as part of a revue called ‘Shakespeare Night Fever’ in Xinxiang, and gave a guest lecture at Shanghai International Studies University, where he was presented to the statue of Shakespeare in the Square of International Literary Giants in Lu Xun Park.

Cameras at press conference