York International Shakespeare Festival
In Cymbeline, King of Britain, Shakespeare puts the following
words into the mouth of Cloten, the arrogant British prince:…Britain is
A world by itself; and we will nothing pay
For wearing our own noses.
In the complicated times in which we live, these words become relevant again. Shakespeare’s ability to open up the issues of our time is striking, matched as it is by our will to recreate Shakespeare’s plays so that they speak to us about our world. That Shakespeare’s plays have inspired an investigation into colonialism in Central America, thoughts on the vulnerability of love in South Korea, and on the place of women in society as considered by a young Romanian – all part of this year’s festival programme – is a remarkable tribute not only to Shakespeare’s universality but also to our ongoing collective impulse to share stories across cultures and time frames as an expression of our shared humanity. Our programme for this festival celebrates the international reach of the creativity that has been inspired by the work of an early modern playwright from a small English town. The experimentation and playful re-appropriation here both honours and challenges the work that has inspired it. Our programme invites you to see and to get involved in this work: be a ‘spectactor’ in Hamlet; consider a Canadian comedian’s criticisms of Shakespeare’s treatment of Margaret of Anjou; print your own Shakespearean speech on a beautiful old press. We are delighted to showcase fascinating productions and imaginative activities from around the world and from closer to home as part of this third York International Shakespeare Festival, and we are grateful to our funders and supporters for making York a buzzing centre of Shakespearean play and Shakespearean thought for these festival days in May. The richness of our programme is greatly assisted by our collaboration with our valued friends and colleagues in the European Shakespeare Festivals Network. As part of the resolution of the last scene of Cymbeline, the King revises his view about Britain’s best relationship with Rome, now weighing the benefits of international co-operation against the earlier appeal of independence.
Plays for all time, plays for our time. Enjoy them in York.
Philip Parr, Judith Buchanan, Damian Cruden and Tom Bird
York International Shakespeare Festival Directors