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Leicester students to perform complete Shakespeare canon

Published: 9 June 2012
Reporter: Steve Orme

Shakespeare MarathonThe University of Leicester and its Students’ Union are to contribute to the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations by holding a non-stop Shakespeareathon.

Fifteen students will be performing Shakespeare’s entire written works—poems and plays—chronologically in the open air over five days.

The event will start with the narrative poem Venus and Adonis at 7am on Monday 18 June followed by A Comedy of Errors at 8:15.

The Shakespeareathon will conclude with a recital of the playwright’s last will and testament on Friday 22 June at about 4:23pm.

Roger Scoppie, creative director of the project, from the University of Leicester Students’ Union, said, “In the sound-bite world of the 21st century it’s assumed you need to ‘reduce’ Shakespeare to make him accessible.

“But here we have a core team of 15 young people who’re going to immerse themselves in Shakespeare non-stop for five days.

“They’ll be climbing the twin peaks of Hamlet and King Lear, and strolling though the forests of As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream—but they’ll also be exploring the unfamiliar landscapes of Henry VI and Cymbeline. They’ll make some exciting discoveries on the way.

“We’ll be performing in the open air to passers-by and people sitting in the sun. If we don’t deliver exciting performances our audience will walk away.

“We’ll be performing the plays in the order that Shakespeare wrote them, and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how actors develop their characters as they reappear from play to play.

“Claudia Glover will be playing Margaret of Anjou for 12 hours across four plays (the Henry VI trilogy and Richard III), starting off as a young French princess and ending up as the mother-in-law from hell.

“Ben Rushton will be playing John, Duke of Lancaster in Henry VI Part 1 on Monday afternoon (18 June) and then jumping back in time in the early hours of Wednesday morning (20 June) to play his younger self in the prequels, Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 and Henry V.

“We’re looking to stream the whole performance live on the Internet. So, while we may not have many people sitting in front of us watching All’s Well That Ends Well at three o’clock on Thursday morning, we’ll keep our spirits up by thinking of our audiences in Tokyo and San Francisco.”

Funds raised from the event will be presented to the University of Leicester cardiovascular research centre appeal to complete and equip a new £12.6m research centre at Glenfield Hospital.

More information on the Shakespeareathon, including a schedule of performance times, is available at shakespeare-lutheatre.blogspot.co.uk.