The Shakespeare & Poland Festival returns to Stratford, 22-23 June 2024 - The Stratford Observer

The Shakespeare & Poland Festival returns to Stratford, 22-23 June 2024

Stratford Editorial 7th Jun, 2024   0

The Shakespeare and Poland Festival is back in Stratford Upon Avon for 2024 with an engaging and vibrant weekend programme of events celebrating Polish cultural heritage, and the cultural connections between Britain & Poland through literature, theatre and music.

Organised in partnership with some of Stratford’s most recognisable arts and cultural institutions, this year’s festival kicks off on Saturday 22nd June at 7pm, with captivating theatrical production Made of Stone at the Stratford Playhouse.

Presented by Krakow’s acclaimed street theatre company ‘Scena Kalejdoskop’, Made of Stone is a play for all ages, blending forgotten tales and legends in a magical mountain kingdom, where audiences will be able to encounter stunning forests and mystical creatures brought to life through amazing masks and unique costumes, set to the enchanting music of Polish composers.

Day 2, Sunday 23rd June, will begin with Venetian Mask-making workshops in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company which take inspiration from Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice. Participants can choose from one of two workshops between 10:30am-11:30am or 12:00-13:00 (FREE, booking required)

Between 11:30am -12:00pm on Sunday 23rd June, on Bancroft Terrace outside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, audiences will also have the chance to see a special FREE outdoor event, the Folk Reflections: Walkabout Performance in which three, larger than life puppets will perform in spectacular colourful costumes presenting traditional folk dress from different regions of Poland, giving audiences the chance to admire, meet and take a photograph with them.

The Folk Reflections Performance will also be part of Refugee Week, contributing to awareness of migration through art and connecting to this year’s theme of ‘Our Home’.

Day 2 continues at 3pm at Stratford Town Hall with a Panel Discussion in partnership with The Shakespeare Institute entitled “TRANSFORMATIONS – Shakespeare’s theatre in Poland and the woman’s voice”. Participants will be able to listen to a conversation between leading performers, directors and writers, exploring Shakespeare’s unique impact in Poland and some of the revolutionary Polish stagings that have re-imagined his greatest characters and challenged our understanding of the nature of gender, on the stage and in the world.

The discussion will feature acclaimed Shakespearean actress and star of stage and screen, Dame Janet Suzman as well as internationally renowned theatre and opera director Helena Kaut-Howson in conversation with Professor Elizabeth Schafer, in which she will talk about her revolutionary staging of award-winning actor Kathryn Hunter as King Lear in the 1997 production of the play when Kathryn became the first English-speaking woman to take on the titular role of King Lear.

The discussion will be moderated by Professor Tony Howard who will draw out the female contribution to interpretations of Shakespeare.

Closing this year’s festival on Sunday 23rd June at 7pm at Stratford Town Hall, will be “From Poland with Music”, which will take listeners on a journey through Poland’s rich musical tradition through the light and lyrical works of some of the country’s greatest composers, performed on the piano and violin.

The concert will feature works by Fryderyk Chopin, Henryk Wieniawski, Grażyna Bacewicz and Wojciech Kilar as well as a musical surprise!

Proceeds from ticket sales will go to The Shakespeare Hospice.

The Shakespeare & Poland Festival follows from successful previous editions and seeks to build on the established Polish links made in Stratford-upon-Avon, including a permanent statue of Jan Kochanowski, a Renaissance Polish poet and contemporary of Shakespeare which stands in the sculpture garden at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.

The festival is organised by the Polish Cultural Institute in London together with Stratford-based Polish community organisation Copernicana CIC.

Find the full festival programme here:


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