Men performing at the World Shakespeare Festival
Men performing at the World Shakespeare Festival ©

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The World Shakespeare Festival was a celebration of Shakespeare as the world's playwright produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company. It included Globe to Globe, a major programme over six weeks, produced by Shakespeare’s Globe, which brought 37 plays in different languages to London.

We supported the research and development of productions from Brazil, Iraq, Mexico, Tunisia and Russia for the World Shakespeare Festival and from Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Sudan for Globe to Globe. In total these performances reached a live audience of over 30,000. For further information about the South Sudan Theatre Company as they prepared to participate in the Cultural Olympiad in London as part of Globe to Globe.

Many of the collaborations were staged internationally prior to and after coming to London, touring to Mexico, India, Iraq, Pakistan, Qatar, and Germany. Some productions will tour later in Brazil, as part of Transform. Transform is a new four-year arts and creativity programme, aiming to develop the artistic dialogue between the UK and Brazil for mutual benefit and long-term impact.

Full-length films of the productions from Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Sudan are available to watch on The Space website run by the BBC and Arts Council. The Space provides live, free and on-demand access to the work of artists and arts organisations, and allows visitors to experience and enjoy some of the events of Festival 2012 and the wider Cultural Olympiad. It was designed to change the way people can connect with and experience the arts. 

The World Shakespeare Festival was part of London 2012 Festival and was produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Globe Theatre in collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations.

We supported the following productions:


Comedy of Errors
A brave and controversial undertaking from Afghanistan wherein men and women acted together.


Two Roses for Richard III
Combined Shakespeare’s text with circus, multimedia, visual metaphor and aerial choreography. 

Dark Side of Love
Set in an underground space transformed into a dreamlike underworld with digital projections, and drawing on the rich cultural tapestry of Brazil.


Romeo and Juliet
Set against conflict between families, communities and generations and infused with Iraq’s rich traditions of poetry, music and ritual.


A Soldier in Every Son – An Aztec Trilogy
Passion, power and intrigue played out in a political thriller in three parts, spanning a century of Aztec history.


Taming of the Shrew
Explored the difficulties encountered by modern Pakistani women. Rich in colour and energy, with live singers and musicians.


A Midsummer Nights Dream
A visually striking interpretation of the magical comedy.

South Sudan

Drew on local accents, modern slang and myth, to create a show that resonates with contemporary life and politics in South Sudan.


Macbeth – Leila and Ben: a Bloody History
Combined Shakespeare with film and reportage in a production inspired by the tumultuous events of the Arab Spring.