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Shakespeare Live! From The RSC

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, David Tennant and Catherine Tate host a live TV event celebrating Shakespeare’s work across many different art forms including theatre, dance, opera and music.

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Shakespeare burning head and fireworks Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Royal Shakespeare Company From the stage of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, hosts David Tennant and Catherine Tate are joined by Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Dame Helen Mirren, Meera Syal, David Suchet, Rufus Wainwright, Tim Minchin, Gregory Porter, Joseph Fiennes, English National Opera, The Royal Ballet and Akala for a special night.

Together they mark the life and work of William Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of the playwright's death. This unique event takes place in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall and celebrates Shakespeare's extraordinary legacy and his enduring influence on all performance art forms - from opera to jazz, dance to musicals. 

As series co-producer, we have compiled a load of learning resources on the Bard, check out our Shakespeare hub or look at our other BBC co-productions on Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Live! From The RSC  will be broadcast on BBC Two on 23rd April 2016 at 20.30. Full broadcast details, and watch again links, can be found on

Find out more about Shakespeare's life and works

Check out our current co-productions on Shakespeare

About the event

David Tennant as Richard II in Richard II, 2013 Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: Royal Shakespeare Company David Tennant and Catherine Tate host a star-studded event in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on 23rd April to mark 400 years since Shakespeare's death. But you don't have to be in the RS theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon to see the production unfold, the OU/RSC/BBC co-production will be televised on BBC Two for all to see.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has brought together a sensational cast with the likes of Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Joseph Fiennes, Helen Mirren, English National Opera, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Ian Bostridge, and Akala to celebrate the works of the Bard. 

Alongside numerous theatrical performances to be revealed on the night, Shakespeare Live! From The RSC will feature Shakespeare-inspired work spanning the musical genres – including hip-hop, blues, musical theatre, jazz, opera and classical numbers based on his plays.

The show will open with a rendition of ‘Tonight’ from West Side Story, choreographed by Will Tuckett and performed by 19 of the most gifted musical theatre students from across the UK.

Country duo The Shires will perform a special interpretation of Shakespeare’s poem 'Under the Greenwood Tree’; Henry Goodman and Rufus Hound will give their own rendition of Brush Up Your Shakespeare from the musical Kiss Me Kate; and the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra will perform Duke Ellington’s Such Sweet Thunder.

Akala and his award-winning music theatre production company Hip Hop Shakespeare will perform a brand new composition; Othello-inspired dance from the Birmingham Royal Ballet will feature; while dancers from the Royal Ballet will perform Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, accompanied by the 65-piece Orchestra of the Swan.

Musicians Rufus Wainwright, Gregory Porter and Ian Bostridge will also be offering songs inspired by Shakespeare: Rufus Wainwright will sing Sonnet 29; a filmed performance of Gregory Porter singing When That I Was And A Little Tiny Boy will feature; and there is a haunting rendition of Come Away, Death from Ian Bostridge accompanied by Sir Antonio Pappano, recorded at the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare is buried.


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