Novelties at the 27th Shakespeare Festival

6 lutego 2023

27. Shakespeare Festival
27th of July – 5th of August
“This is the excellent foppery of the world!”
During this year’s edition of the festival, the organizers are changing the formula of the Golden Yorick competition, extending it to non-institutional theatres. The ShakespeareOFF competition, on the other hand, is open only to ensembles or artists planning to create a new production based on Shakespeare’s work. The 27th international Shakespeare Festival will be held under the motto “This is the excellent foppery of the world!”

Preparations for the 27th international Shakespeare Festival took place in the shadow of the war in Ukraine, who could not make it to the theatre’s stage during the last edition of the Festival, that mainly showed the post-pandemic need to have fun, laugh, and be close together. This time, not only did we have war in the background, but also bloody protests in Iran, a football World Cup surrounded by suffering of thousands of innocent people and the silencing of athletes fighting for human rights, and increasingly more challenging times for the whole Europe, where inflation accelerated in a way unknown since 1989.
Every day we can feel the crises related to the climate’s destruction, sometimes on our own skin, although we do not care about them on a daily basis. The basic rights of an individual are violated in numerous countries and the world seems to learn nothing from its mistakes and repeating mechanisms of history.
This is why the organizers of the 27th international Shakespeare Festival decided that the current situation would be best reflected in the motto taken from William Shakespeare’s King Lear: “This is the excellent foppery of the world!”
In “King Lear” we read: “This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-dominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforc’d obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!” (“King Lear,” Edmund, Act 1 Scene 2)

During the upcoming edition, we will take a look at this world and the reinging man, whose worst enemy is himself. We will show the human being in his struggle with his own weaknesses, darkness, and fear. But also, a human being who desires, who fights, who in his naivety both loses and wins, in this “excellent foppery of the world!” Both the main programme and the accompanying events will revolve around human choices, responsibilities, and duty to oneself, one another, and to the world. Many events will be marked by the female perspective. We will be presenting various theatrical forms, we will be open to innovative references and inspirations,” says Agata Grenda, the director of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre.

The competition for the best Polish staging of William Shakespeare’s dramatic works and works inspired by the plays of William Shakespeare (The Golden Yorick Competition) has been held continuously since 1994 and is a kind of summary of Polish Shakespearean productions of a given artistic season.
The Golden Yorick is a two-stage competition. In the first stage, the selector will choose the three to five best performances from the premieres of the 2022/2023 season submitted to the competition. Selected performances will receive an invitation to the 27th Shakespeare Festival. In the second stage, an international jury selects the winner of the Golden Yorick. The winning theatre receives a Golden Yorick statuette and a financial prize of PLN 40,000.
The choice of the best Shakespearean productions of the season was once again entrusted to Łukasz Drewniak, a theatre critic.
A significant change to the rules of the competition for the best Polish staging of William Shakespeare’s dramatic works and works inspired by William Shakespeare’s plays is the admission of non-institutional theatres to the competition. All performances submitted to the competition must have premiered by the 28th of May 2023.

ShakespeareOFF Productions
The Festival will also feature new independent productions supported financially and logistically by the Festival. The aim of the ShakespeareOFF strand is to invite non-institutional artists and teams whose projects’ starting point is the work of Shakespeare. ShakespeareOFF is a competition that funds new independent productions prepared specifically for the festival. It also means that with this year’s edition, the organisers are dropping the ShakespeareOFF Presentations competition, as the latter can compete for the Golden Yorick.
The curator of the current is Katarzyna Knychalska, founder and director of the Teatr Nie-Taki Foundation and editor-in-chief of the website.
Entries will be accepted until 8 March 2023 at 12:00 PM by email to Details can be found in the rules at

The Festival organisers are maintaining last year’s tradition, with plays taking part in both the Golden Yorick and ShakespeareOFF Productions competitions to be judged by one international jury.
„We would rather not differentiate between the plays competing for the Golden Yorick and the ShakespeareOFF current. We want our jury to have a full spectrum of what is happening in Polish theatre in terms of interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays,” says Agata Grenda, director of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre. – „The awards will be of a monetary nature. In the case of the Golden Yorick it will be PLN 40,000 and the ShakespeareOFF Productions competition – PLN 15,000. Additionally, the creators of each project that qualifies for the finals of the latter competition will each get PLN 20,000 of support for the realisation of their projects.