The London Book Fair is hosting a wealth of celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death including multi-lingual performances and retellings of his plays by authors Howard Jacobson, Jeanette Winterson and Tracey Chevalier.
Honouring Shakespeare’s enduring impact on the global publishing industry and wider creative arts, LBF – which marks its own 45th anniversary this year – is launching ‘The Shakesperience’, with events taking place throughout LBF (12th to 14th April) and London Book and Screen Week (11th to 17th April).
A mini Globe performance space will be erected inside Kensington Olympia during the Fair, where authors and Shakespearian actors from around the world will perform sonnets and extracts in six languages – Chinese, Spanish, Polish, Hindi, Arabic and English – in recognition of the bard’s influence around the world. There will also be a specially commissioned Chinese play depicting Tang Xianzhu's "Peony Pavilion" and Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet", performed both in Chinese and English on Tuesday 12th April at 4pm.
Visitors will have the chance to have their picture taken with Shakespeare in a hologram photo booth and to visit the Bard Tavern where Shakespeare-themed cocktails will be on offer. Via Booktrack, Shakespeare e-books will "come alive" with music, ambient sound, and sound effects. Visitors will also have the opportunity to sample favourite Shakespeare plays as an e-book with a synchronised movie-style soundtrack.
LBF will host a countdown to Shakespeare’s birthday on its social channels, as well as a social media competition to find the world’s favourite Shakespeare passage. Meanwhile, a brand showcase will display everything from Shakespeare magnets to the Booksellers Association’s ‘Bard is My Bag’ tote bags and t-shirts available for wholesale or limited purchase.
The fair’s insights programme will also feature sessions with a Shakespeare theme, including a panel on ‘Shakespeare in the Classroom’ exploring how Shakespeare is taught around the world.
As well as daily events at The London Book Fair, and across the capital as part of London Book and Screen Week, Chevalier, Jacobson and Winterson will lead Shakesperience celebrations on the second day of the fair (Wednesday 13th April). Day two will see LBF's annual Author of the Day programme being dedicated solely to the bard, with various celebrations and photo calls taking place, including retellings of Shakespeare’s "Othello", "The Merchant of Venice", and "The Winter’s Tale" by Chevalier, Jacobson and Winterson respectively.
Jacks Thomas, director at The London Book Fair, said: “As the UK’s best-selling author of all time, and one of the most widely studied authors in the world, Shakespeare’s legacy continues to be one of huge significance in our global industry. It is fitting that we will be celebrating his legacy alongside other 400 year commemorations of Cervantes and Tang Xianzhu; The London Book Fair is the perfect place to mark these celebrations and to see the full array of these great writers’ works on offer to a contemporary audience in a variety of languages and formats.”
London Book & Screen Week – the capital’s largest celebration of books and the creative worlds they inspire – will be hosting a Shakespeare Special with Howard Jacobson among other panellists with more details to follow.