The International Shakespeare Festival in Romania was founded in Craiova, in 1994 and for the first five editions took place every three years. Since 2006, it has taken place every two years. The main organizers of the festival are the ”Marin Sorescu” National Theatre, Craiova, and the “William Shakespeare” Foundation. Since 2006, the Festival has also taken place in Bucharest, in collaborations with ArCub-Bucharest, with the Romanian Cultural Institute and with the Nottara Theatre, involving new audiences and diversifying its events. Some of the performances presented in Craiova have been also presented in several locations in the Oltenia region.
The 2008 Festival’s motto was “Great Directors, Great Performances, Great Theatres of Europe and of the World”, and it brought together the names of some of the most famous international directors such as Peter Brook, Robert Wilson, Declan Donnellan, Lev Dodin, Eimuntas Nekrosius, and Silviu Purcarete. The 2010 Festival was dedicated to only one play: “Hamlet”. The presentation of Shakespeare’s masterpiece in different directorial visions and interpretations (Thomas Ostermeier, Oskaras Korsunovas, Monica Pecikiewics, Yoshihiro Kurita, Yun Taek-Lee, Elizabeth LeCompte, Eimuntas Nekrosius etc.) represented an opportunity for theatre professionals and audiences to compare, discuss, comment, and debate. In 2012, the motto of the International Shakespeare Festival was ”All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players”, and the highlight was the Berliner Ensemble’s ”Shakespeare’s Sonnets” directed by Robert Wilson. The 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth was celebrated in ”Everybody’s Shakespeare” Festival in 2014, and, in 2016, the 10th Shakespeare Festival in Romania marked the 400 years from Bard’s death in an edition titled ”Shakespeare for All Time”. In this festival, we were honoured to present Yukio Ninagawa’s last Shakespearian production, Richard II. In 2018, the ”Planet Shakespeare” edition united performances from every continent. The title of the 2020 Craiova International Shakespeare Festival will be ”William Shakespeare the Universal”.
The Festival also includes seminars and conferences; workshops on acting, directing, design and criticism; film projections of famous performances; symphonic concerts; theatre design, painting, photographic and philatelic exhibitions, as well as theatre book and DVD launches.
A great number of foreign and Romanian theatre critics have attended the festival through the years, and record their opinion that it is one of the best thematic European festivals. Craiova International Shakespeare Festival was awarded the Prize for Excellence granted by Uniter, the Romanian Theatre Association.