Join our virtual bonfire for some magical Shakespearean drama

The magical drama will be premiered on Bradford Theatres’ You Tube channel at 6.30pm on Thursday 5 November with filmed performances of a selection of the Bard’s famous speeches from plays such as Macbeth, Hamlet, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet. Volunteers include students from Bradford College ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) course, and Performing Arts students from Bradford University.

It will be one of many fires lighting up across the UK for performers and audiences to share in one of the original forms of theatre: storytelling around a burning flame. From spectacular bonfires to digital blazes, leading touring theatre companies are uniting to present events across the country at a time when it is not possible to tour.

The companies, which include English Touring Theatre, Fen in association with Out of Joint, Fuel, Graeae, Headlong, Hightide, Kestrel Theatre Company, Kneehigh, Macha Productions, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, New Perspectives, Pentabus, Pilot, Paines Plough, SBC Theatre, Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Slung Low, Spare Tyre, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men and Yellow Earth Theatre are working with hundreds of UK freelancers.

Each fire will span different disciplines, reflecting the diversity of the touring circuit, and will be presented outdoors in front of socially distanced audiences, or digitally for those who are shielding or unable to travel.

Bradford Theatres has had a strong partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company for many years, working closely on a project called Shakespeare Nation, aimed at adult communities who might not think theatre and Shakespeare are for them. This has created a strong and vibrant group of Shakespeare Champions across Bradford - all carrying the torch for Shakespeare and his work, which is timeless and endlessly relevant to everything we encounter in our daily lives.

Bradford key worker Georgina Jovanovic, recently enjoyed a zoom rehearsal of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 55 with professional actor Zoe Lambert, who lives in Holmfirth, and RSC Producer Ian Wainwright. She chose Sonnet 55, because its theme is the endurance of love.  She said: 

During lockdown, it's been a particularly challenging time to remain focused on anything other than the issues going on around us. As a key worker and a full time student priorities have shifted as the world becomes a more challenging place to live in. I believe that staying creative is a form of self care and can also be used to turn seemingly negative situations into more positive ones.” 

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places said: 

We are delighted to be part of the Shakespeare Nation project with the RSC and so proud of the creative voices and new storytelling that has emerged from our community, bringing a strength and positivity to the fore at this challenging time.”

Bradley Cookson-Patterson, who is from Bradford and studying Performing Arts at Bradford University, is performing a speech by Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan in the play The Tempest.  He said: 

My advice to stay creative is to keep yourself invested in the arts by watching plays, reading scripts and listening to musical theatre soundtracks!” 

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