David Tennant as Richard II in a Royal Shakespeare Company production

Royal Shakespeare Company

What is Shakespeare Lives?

Shakespeare Lives is a global programme of events and activities celebrating Shakespeare’s life on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016.

The British Council and the GREAT Britain campaign are working with a host of British theatres, museums, educators and artists on brand new productions of Shakespeare’s plays, film adaptations, public readings and educational resources for schools and English language learners of all ages in the UK and around the world.

How can I get involved?

A major highlight will be a mass participation project inviting people worldwide to respond creatively to scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, culminating in a crowd-sourced digital reimagining of Shakespeare’s works. 

Plenty of other opportunities to get involved in Shakespeare Lives events and workshops can be found by visiting the Shakespeare Lives website.

To get involved in the conversation follow #ShakespeareLives on Twitter.

View the BBC Shakespeare Lives online festivall

Wherever you are in the world, you can enjoy the BBC Shakespeare Lives online festival until the end of September 2016.

You can watch the highlights below, and much more, on the festival website, which is co-curated by the BBC and the British Council. 


Royal Shakespeare Company

David Tennant stars as the doomed Richard II in Greg Doran’s critically-acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production, available for the first time online across the world.


Hay Festival

Through a mixture of new short films and the festival’s extensive archive top authors, actors, academics and thinkers including Stephen Fry, Germaine Greer and Dame Judi Dench explore Shakespeare, his works and his legacy.


British Film Institute

Sir Ian McKellen shares his unique insights into the problems and joys of interpreting Shakespeare for the theatre, television, radio and cinema.



Two of the greatest contemporary Hamlets, Simon Russell Beale and Adrian Lester discuss this most celebrated and challenging of roles. Their discussion of the Prince of Denmark fittingly takes place on Danish soil in the elegant surroundings of the ambassador’s residence in London. From Gielgud to Branagh, Olivier to Plummer, they explore the rich variety of approaches to a role to which so many actors aspire.


Set on a Peckham council estate, this short film, written and directed by Elliot Barnes Worrell celebrates Shakespeare’s timeless themes with a cast headed by Ralph Fiennes. Using only the words of Shakespeare, The Works explores the vast complexities that exist within a community of young Londoners who refuse to be defined by their circumstances.

Friday 22 April 2016 - Shakespeare Odes: Live Broadcast

20.30 - 22.30 CET

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon

A world-premiere commemorative concert in the church where Shakespeare was baptised and buried.

Choral group Ex Cathedra and City Musick perform Thomas Arne’s 18th century musical setting of An Ode to Shakespeare by David Garrick – the 18th century actor and theatre manager responsible for our modern-day appreciation of The Bard; and A Shakespeare Masque, specially written for the event by the Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, and composed by Sally Beamish, and narrated by actor Sam West.

Saturday 23 April 2016 - Breakfast with the Bard: Live Broadcast

09.00 - 10.00 CET

New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon

Shakespeare Day Live has exclusive access to New Place, the site of Shakespeare’s home and the place where he died.

The area is being reimagined as a commemorative garden with exhibitions in neighbouring Nash House, formerly owned by Shakespeare’s granddaughter and her husband.

BBC Birmingham: Live Broadcasts

Mailbox, BBC Birmingham

Throughout the day, presenter Andy Akinwolere broadcasts live from the home of BBC Birmingham with guests, facts, films and fun about Shakespeare. Andy challenges our preconceptions of Shakespeare and brings him up to date with interactive films, a look at the touch-screen table developed in conjunction with the University of Birmingham; all hosted from the Blue Room; the BBC’s home of innovation.

The Complete Walk: Live Broadcast

12.00 - 13.30 CET

Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, London

Presenter Katie Derham celebrates the opening of The Complete Walk, all 37 Shakespeare plays each represented by new films created by Shakespeare’s Globe and shown on 37 big screens stretching from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge on this special day.

Hamlet Returns: Live Broadcast

13.30 - 14.00 CET

Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, London

After a two-year world tour to almost every country, Shakespeare’s Globe’s production of Hamlet returns home. Katie Derham joins the cast and crew on their triumphant return to the Globe stage as they are welcomed back by Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole.

David Tennant as Richard II in a Royal Shakespeare Company production
David Tennant as Richard II in a Royal Shakespeare Company production, which you can watch online from 23 April 2016. Photo by Kwame Lestrade. ©

Royal Shakespeare Company

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