SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY: Announcing Bard-en-Seine, 23 –27 July—a free festival in the heart of Paris, celebrating the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, including an outdoor production of Macbeth in the Square René Viviani

“I AM IN BLOOD”—Macbeth, Act 3, scene iv

Shakespeare and Company presents… Bard-en-Seine, 23 – 27 July 2014, free to attend, all events in English

 To celebrate the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth in true style, we’re thrilled to announce the Bard-en-Seine festival. The centrepiece of our Shakespearean extravaganza will be a bold and subversive production of Macbeth, directed by Cressida Brown, acclaimed for her work with Greg Doran at the RSC. Staged outside in the heart of old Paris, against the backdrop of the artistic and intellectual tradition of the Left Bank, the site-specific performance will take place in the Square René Viviani and will use the natural space in creative and exciting ways. The production will be complemented by Shakespearean-themed events, hosted by Shakespeare and Company bookshop each afternoon prior to the performance. Confirmed guests include the acclaimed Shakespearean writer and scholar Stanley Wells.

Why Macbeth?

 First performed in 1611, Macbeth is a timeless and profound play. To honour this year’s centenary of the First World War, our production will investigate a war where teenage soldiers pervade and those in power decide what is worth dying for. This interpretation will challenge the play’s basic assumptions—for example, the identity of the true dictator—and conjure a cold and calculating world where brutal uprisings are merely a political game…

The Director: Cressida Brown

“Welcome to tragedy… sublime”—The Scotsman ★★★★

“Cressida Brown seems to think that traditional theatre is for wimps”—British Theatre Guide

Cressida Brown is the Artistic Director of site-specific theatre company Offstage In 2007, she was awarded the Royal National Theatre Studio bursary. This year, she is the recipient of the International Artist Development Bursary from the British Council and Arts Council England. Brown’s acclaimed show Amphibians, based on interviews with former Olympic swimmers and staged in a derelict swimming pool, received six award nominations, including Best Director, Best New Play, Best Design, Best Sound Design, Best Choreography, and Best Writer. Since 2008, she has worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company as Greg Doran’s assistant director on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, David Tennant’s Hamlet, and Love’s Labour’s Lost. Brown has just returned from Ohio, where she directed The Tempest for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

In the Words of the Director

 “When I was approached by Shakespeare and Company to direct Macbeth for the Bard-en-Seine festival, I jumped at the chance. I approach space as a crucial part of theatrical storytelling, and the Square René Viviani will be a fantastic stage on which to unfold this most devastating of Shakespeare’s tragedies. This production has the double exhilaration of falling on the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and also the centenary of the First World War. To commemorate and explore the impact of war on a nation, we will be setting the play in 1914, with the elegant Parisian setting serving as a sharp and poignant contrast to the turmoil of the play. My cast is young and contains a mix of French and English actors, which is very much in keeping with the spirit of Shakespeare and Company. I know that the fusion will be explosive!”

Bard-en-Seine: The Full Programme (all events are free to attend)

 Wednesday 23rd July   
18h30: Macbeth (Square René Viviani)

Thursday 24th July

16h30: Alan Riding (author of the Essential Shakespeare Handbook)

18h30: Macbeth (Square René Viviani)

Friday 25th July  

16h30: Summertime Shakespearean Sonnets, with Lola Peploe and Charlotte Corman

18h30: Macbeth (Square René Viviani)

Saturday 26th July      

16h30: Stanley Wells on Shakespeare, Sex & Love

18h30: Macbeth (Square René Viviani)

Sunday 27th July     

16h30: A Shakespearean Forest Montage

18h30: Macbeth (Square René Viviani)

 Shakespeare and Company

Shakespeare and Company is an English-language bookshop in the heart of Paris, on the Left Bank. The bookshop was founded by American George Whitman in 1951 and, since then, has become a literary and cultural institution. Shakespeare and Company has a long and celebrated history of holding free cultural events, and has hosted many of the great writers and thinkers of the last sixty years, including Allen Ginsberg, Anaïs Nin, Paul Auster, Jeanette Winterson, Martin Amis, Philip Pullman, Carol Ann Duffy, and John Berger, among many others. Shakespeare and Company is now run by George Whitman’s daughter, Sylvia Whitman. It continues to play a unique and central role in sustaining the artistic life of the city.