[Festivals Stories] Gdansk Shakespeare Festival

18 Nov 2021

Gdansk Shakespeare Festival/ Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre
30 July > 8 August 2021
Gdańsk, Poland

Theatre, performing arts

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The 24th edition of the Gdańsk Shakespeare Festival took place between 20-29 November 2020. The event, organised annually in Gdańsk at the turn of July and August, was moved to autumn due to the Covid-19 pandemic and, as the restrictions did not allow any audience present, was entirely available online.

Performances were presented via live streaming from the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre or from the home stages of the theatres invited to the festival. Some presentations, mainly those from the ShakespeareOFF stage, were shown in the form of recordings. All performances were made available to the audience on one platform: VOD.teatrszekspirowski.pl. The programme and information about the event was presented on the website www.festiwalszekspirowski.pl and on the dedicated Facebook fanpage. After the Mainstage performances, meetings with the artists were held, also available on the VOD platform.

There was an absolutely unique event, in that it was held during the pandemic restrictions: a community theatre performance prepared by the British group Parrabbola, involving live participants from the local community of Gdansk as well as artists and creators from five European countries. They actually did travel into, and all rehearsals were made live in, Gdańsk. The coproduction was created over two weeks of collaborative work under a health regime. The performance was recorded and then shown to the festival audience on a VOD platform.

The play summed up the themes explored in the international co-operation project Shaking the Walls, carried out with partner organisations from the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland and Poland and co-financed by the European Union's Creative Europe Programme. Participants from the local community of Gdansk as well as artists from the co-operating countries emphasised how important this meeting was for them after months of isolation. It enabled them to develop their creative skills and experience real contact with other people, share their ideas and learn different languages of all international partners involved as each was used in the performance, and not only by the native speakers.

Moving the 24th edition of the Shakespeare Festival entirely to the Internet was a great challenge for us, the organisers. It was also a lesson thanks to which we learned completely new skills and forms of communicating with the audience. This solution has also equipped us with a new tool, which will be used by us permanently, in a way becoming our new, online stage. We hope that our New Time Scene, the theatre's VOD Platform, will be a place to which audiences will return gladly. We care about that, because we are constantly adding new content to it in connection with other ongoing projects. While we have undoubtedly longed for direct contact with our audience, we also appreciate the opportunity to develop the digital potential of our institution and implement new forms of communication.

More information: https://teatrszekspirowski.pl

(General Editor: Simon Mundy)