Shakespeare is 450 next week – but why, really, are we celebrating?

Join Mark Ravenhill on BBC Radio 3, 6.45pm this Easter Sunday for a special documentary developed by Ideas Lab with the Shakespeare Institute and produced by Unique. It’s followed by a production of Antony and Cleopatra starring Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston.


As celebrations begin to mark the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, playwright Mark Ravenhill challenges the nation’s adulation of the Bard and asks whether his genius is beyond question. Casting a sceptical eye over centuries of bardolatry, Ravenhill calls for a new approach to the plays. Exploring the intellectual tradition that has seen important figures from Voltaire to Wittgenstein challenge Shakespeare’s supremacy, he searches for today’s dissenting voices. With contributions by theatre director Phyllida Lloyd, actor Simon Russell Beale, actress Fiona Shaw, playwrights Edward Bond and Howard Barker, scholars Michael Dobson and Gary Taylor, and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s artistic director Gregory Doran and deputy artistic director Erica Whyman.

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