The Shakespeare Institute celebrated the successful launch of its Shakespeare Beyond Borders Alliance - a global network aiming to unite those working with Shakespeare from around the world and from across the social spectrum.

Shakespeare Beyond Borders Alliance - logo of a bridge with the words next to it

The Alliance has been established by its three co-chairs: Professor Michael Dobson, Director of the Shakespeare Institute; Dr Chris Laoutaris, Senior Lecturer in Shakespeare at the Shakespeare Institute; and Dr Rowan Mackenzie, Founder and Artistic Director of Shakespeare UnBard. 

Over 600 people attended the three days of online discussions that brought together the Institute’s partners within and beyond academia - Shakespeare practitioners from the field of applied theatre, politicians, scholars, charities, prison networks, publishing houses, tourist and curatorial industries, arts organisations, government bodies and many more. You can view all the recorded sessions on the University of Birmingham YouTube channel here.

Professor Michael Dobson said: “Shakespeare is much bigger than academic scholarship, and the Shakespeare Institute has always been interested in exploring and furthering the entire various and enabling presence of his works in the wider world. We are all delighted to be part of an alliance which brings together so many people and organizations who share our commitment to cross-cultural communication and social inclusion.” 

The launch also showcased the University’s international partners in Shakespeare: not just those with whom the Institute already has close formal links, in China, Japan and Singapore, but colleagues from Canada, Cyprus, Greece, Germany, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia and the United States.

Split screen of three participants in a video conference - Professor Michael Dobson, Dr Chris Laoutaris, and Dr Rowan Mackenzie

Dr Rowan Mackenzie: “The launch of SBBA brought together such a diverse range of people with a shared interest in Shakespeare and in humanity; making it apparent that these conversations and collaborations are so important to enable working together to bridge divides and break through barriers into a more equitable and inclusive place in the world. The engagement surpassed our hopes and we know that there is a strong desire from so many people to develop shared ways of working, model best practice, collaborations which place the participants at the heart of the work and where all voices can be heard; it is a pleasure to be involved in SBBA which will enable and support these endeavours across the world.” 

Dr Chris Laoutaris: "The SBBA launch was an inspirational and timely global gathering, which stressed the value of using Shakespeare to encourage cooperation, collaboration, mutual understanding and empathy across borders of many kinds, all underpinned by a total commitment to equality and inclusivity. We want the SBBA to be a hub for generating projects, events and initiatives which will encourage people to work together, overcoming national, social and disciplinary divides in innovative, experimental and even daring ways. My co-Chairs and I believe that, together with everyone who wants to join us on this exciting journey, we can co-create a Shakespeare network without limits!"