British Council announces Shakespeare Lives

Sunday, 10 May 2015 14:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Biggest-ever global celebration of Shakespeare will take place in 2015/16



The British Council recently announced Shakespeare Lives, an unprecedented global program of events and activities celebrating Shakespeare’s life on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016. 

Shakespeare Lives is an invitation to the world to join in the celebrations by participating in a unique online collaboration and experiencing the work of Shakespeare directly on stage through film, exhibitions and in schools. BUP_DFT_DFT-16-new-10

The program aims to reach over half a billion people around the world. 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.  

British Council Sri Lanka, ever aware of Sri Lanka’s appetite for the famous bard, will be kicking off a series of exciting events, by joining with the British High Commission and the British School in Colombo, to bring London’s famous Globe Theatre to Colombo. The Globe will be performing Hamlet on 14 May at the British School in Colombo. 

Country Director British Council Sri Lanka, Keith Davies, said: “I read Drama and English Literature at university and had the privilege of studying the works of the great William Shakespeare in both parts of my degree course. Master poet, dramatist, philosopher and social commentator it is no surprise to me that he is still revered as perhaps the greatest writer in this history of the civilised world, 400 years after his death. Some, who haven’t had the opportunity to study Shakespeare’s works may consider them difficult or obscure but a brief exposure to the plays on the stage or the sonnets will reveal the opposite. The truth of the human condition expressed in magical language including many phrases that have entered our everyday usage act as a testament to his genius - ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them’, ‘to thine own self be true’ and never forget ‘all that glitters is not gold’ and ‘the course of true love never did run smooth’.”

Globally, Shakespeare Lives will be launched in autumn this year and run throughout 2015/16, exploring Shakespeare as a living writer who still speaks for all people and nations. Activities across English, education and the arts will explore the story of how a playwright from England came to be shared all over the globe. 

A major highlight will be ‘All the World’s a Stage’, a mass participation project that will invite people from all over the world to upload and share clips of themselves performing lines from Shakespeare plays. It will culminate in a record-breaking, crowd-sourced performance and a new digital version of Shakespeare’s works. 

British Council Chief Executive Ciarán Devane said: “Power struggles, brutal politics, murder, love, passion, bitter feuds, human weakness and plain farce are universal themes as relevant now as they were when Shakespeare was writing. Shakespeare Lives will engage audiences overseas and in the UK with both the work of the Bard and with the best of contemporary Britain and will open up opportunities for UK institutions, businesses and organisations to work around the world, and for organisations around the world in the UK.”  

More detailed plans and partners will be announced over the coming year. Find out more at or follow the hashtag #ShakespeareLives.