Shakespeare in European Communities

A day of discovery and celebration with those who are making the work.

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The Creative Centre York St John University

2:00pm – 5:30pm Sunday April 21

Convened by Prof. Nicoleta Cinpoes and Philip Parr

A day of exploration looking at how Shakespeare is being used in community settings across Europe, to build community cohesion, and to create opportunities for everyone to get involved in theatre making.

Parrabbola have been making this work for over a decade, and we wanted to share some of our experiences, and to introduce others who are central to presenting Shakespeare in a community setting.

The day begins with this symposium, continues with the launch of Shake Fear | Break Walls – a new publication documenting a European collaboration, and concludes with Shakespeare Songs – a celebration of some of the original music written for the York Shakespeare Project.


For the last 25 years The Petrovden Shakespeare Company in Bulgaria has made an annual summer Shakespeare production, working entirely with members of the local community on an outdoor stage in the small village of Patalenitsa in Bulgaria.
These yearly public Shakespeare performances have become part of the identity of the village, have attracted thousands of spectators from across Bulgaria, and beyond and have fostered international collaboration.

One of the founders of the festival, Inna Cerovska, will join us in York to talk about the festival – exploring the origins and purpose, and telling us how the festival has become a village, national, and international treasure.

Poland – and further afield

Parrabbola made our first community Shakespeare collaboration in 2011, working with the Gdansk Shakespeare Festival in Poland. Pericles, Prince of Tyre was chosen and with a community cast of around 60, was presented as an extended promenade performance around the inner city suburb of Dolne Miasto – then a run down no-go area, now rapidly gentrifying. Parrabbola Artistic Director Philip Parr will be joined by Gdansk based film maker and occasional actor Pawel Sudara to share his award winning short documentary film – Pericles Prince of Dolne Miasto and to talk about the importance of the event to the community.

The model developed in Gdansk with Pericles, has since been taken to other communities and festivals in Ostrava (Czechia), Donegal (Ireland) and Craiova (Romania). We’ll show some film and pictures from those productions and talk about the future of European collaboration post-Brexit.

Our most recent production Shake Fear | Break Walls, took us back to Poland, during the pandemic, to make a collaborative project with five European partners. We’ll talk a little about this project, ahead of our book launch at 6:00 pm – also in the Creative Centre at York St John.

England – and specifically York

Members of the York Shakespeare project will join us to talk about completing the first cycle of all of Shakespeare’s plays and their new mission. Conceived in 2000 and described variously as the most exciting and adventurous of community theatre making concepts, the original 20 year plan to present all of Shakespeare’s plays using community casts in York was only delayed by the onset of the coronavirus. Completed in 2022 – the first cycle celebrated a diversity of theatre making, built a passionate community of York Shakespeareans, and drew attention from artists, critics and audiences from around the world.

YSP have three productions as part of the festival in 2024. The Taming of the Shrew, a reading of the parallel play A Tamer Tamed, and Shakespeare Songs – a celebration of some of the original music from the first cycle of plays. Shakespeare Songs is the culmination of this exploration of Shakespeare in European Communities and is included in your ticket to this symposium. More information on all three productions can be found on the website.

The day will be chaired by Nicoleta Cinpoes, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of Worcester and International Adviser to the York International Shakespeare Festival.

This event is free, but we ask you to reserve a space so that we know how many are attending, and to consider making a donation to the work of the festival.

We want to make it possible for as many members of the community to come to festival performances, so please consider buying a Pass it On Ticket which we can offer to community members who may not otherwise be able to attend.

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