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Midsummer fun in Russia and Italy for Shakespeare Lives

  • Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is being presented in a new 4k restoration


June 2016

Ian McKellen continues his Shakespeare LIves tour to take part in the Midsummer Nights Festival in Moscow; he's joined by Romeo and Juliet star Leonard Whiting, who also goes to Italy this Midsummer week.

British Council Russia is hosting the Midsummer Nights Festival, one of the highlights of our global Shakespeare Lives celebration this year.

Ian McKellen continues to spread his love of the Bard by bringing his solo show Shakespeare on Stage, Screen and Elsewhere to Moscow tonight at Pashkov House, and on June 22 at the Gogol Centre Theatre, he will also present Richard III.

The festival runs June 22-26 at Muzeon Art Park, showing a diverse group of the best Shakespearean adaptations on screen. Those screenings include the BFI’s silent shorts collection Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Cinema, with live music by a Moscow ensemble;  Laurence Olivier’s Henry V from 1944; and Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 Romeo and Juliet, newly restored in 4k. Romeo himself, famed English actor Leonard Whiting, will be in Russia to present the film.

The other screenings include Roman Polanski’s 1971 Macbeth; Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 Much Ado About Nothing and 1973’s horror comedy Theatre of Blood.

A slew of expert speakers will also discuss Shakespeare’s influence. They are Dr Daniel Rosenthal, author of Shakespeare on Screen and 100 Shakespeare Films, talking about the global history of Shakespeare screen adaptations; Amber Butchart, fashion historian, broadcaster and Associate Lecturer at London College of Fashion, who will look at the place of clothes in Shakespeare’s work and his subsequent influence on fashion design from Dior to Gareth Pugh; and Christopher Rainbow, Course Director in Graphic Design and Illustration at the British Higher School of Art and Design in Moscow, will run a workshop and give a public talk on the illustration of Shakespeare over the centuries.

If that’s not enough, there are special music programmes, a kids series, Shakespeare-related English classes, a book stall and a Shakesperean brunch.

In partnership with CoolConnections, the British Council will also bring the Midsummer Nights Festival to Ekaterinburg (23-29 June at the Salyut Cinema) and St Petersburg (25 June-1 July at the Aurora Cinema).

Russia is not the only country celebrating Midsummer, of course. British Council Italy is also hosting Leonard Whiting in Verona on June 24 and Caserta on June 26, again with the beautiful new 4k restoration of Zefferelli’s classic Romeo and Juliet.

Follow more at #ShakespeareLives