What will we see at the festival?
The 25th edition of the Shakespeare Festival in Gdańsk will take place from 30 July to 8 August 2021. We will see performances from: Portugal, Italy, Lithuania, Belgium and from Poland. The organisers of the Shakespeare Festival are the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre and the Theatrum Gedanense Foundation. This edition is particularly special, not only because of the quarter-centenary of this prestigious event. It is the first time that the Festival will be held without its founder and artistic director, Professor Jerzy Limon, who passed away in March 2021. The programme of this year’s edition, however, is his creation.
The first own production by the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre will open the Festival – “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare, directed by Szymon Kaczmarek. The premiere of the play will take place on 8 July 2021. An important highlight of the 25th edition of the Festival will also be a work by one of Lithuania’s leading theatre makers, Oskaras Koršunovas, winner of the most important European theatre awards. His “Othello”, performed by actors of OKT Theatre from Vilnius, is already the seventh realization of Shakespeare’s works in the director’s career. Many of his productions: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Romeo and Juliet”. “Miranda” (based on “The Tempest”) were presented at the Shakespeare Festival in Gdansk, gaining recognition as the best performances – both from the audience and critics. As Oskaras Koršunovas says, theatre is an instrument that helps us to get to know ourselves and the society we live in better. He often reaches for Shakespeare’s dramaturgy, as he is one of the playwrights whose works reflect the patterns of the contemporary world.
Another highlight of this year’s festival will certainly be “Antony and Cleopatra”, the performance of Portuguese director Tiago Rodrigues, realised with the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II. It is a poetic and complex adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, inspired partly by Plutarch’s text about Mark Antony in “Parallel Lives”, partly by Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s film “Cleopatra” (1963). Tiago Rodrigues presents his own vision of the myth.
Lovers of world-class theatre will also be pleased by the latest production by the famous Belgian group Needcompany: “Billy’s Violence”. It was created by the Flemish director and visual artist Jan Lauwers. The performance is inspired by 13 tragedies of Shakespeare and will come to Poland right after the premiere in Barcelona. It asks questions about what violence in art means in the contemporary world and why we enjoy watching it so much. Is it perceived today differently than at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries?
The 25th edition of the Festival will also feature the world premiere of the latest performance by the Italian group ImPerfect Dancers, whose expressive, beautiful dance performances have met with great acclaim from the Gdańsk audience during recent editions of the festival. After the previously realised performances: “Lady Macbeth” and “Hamlet”, the trilogy will be completed by the most famous love story in the world: “Romeo and Juliet”.
In the photo: the performance “Antonio and Cleopatra”, Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, photo by Magda Bizarro