York St John University sponsors the York International Shakespeare Festival

The annual festival returns on Thursday 18 April 2024

Artists from the UK, the United States, Ukraine, Japan, Bulgaria, France and Turkey will arrive in York for 10 days of world and UK premieres, storytelling in schools and libraries, book launches, seminars, lectures and exhibitions.

While York St John University has been a main venue partner and organiser before, the 2024 festival marks the beginning of a three-year sponsorship linked to the University’s School of Humanities and the School of the Arts.

A large number of events will take place on the University campus, a highlight being the UK premiere of Becoming Othello: A Black Girl’s Journey, written by and starring Debra Ann Byrd, Founding Artistic Director of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival. Debra Ann will perform the show twice on campus, as well as give a Symposium Keynote Lecture about Shakespeare and Identity.

Other cultural highlights taking place at the University include:

  • a world premiere collaborative project produced by the Festival and the National Theatre of Ivano-Frankivsk from Ukraine, featuring artists from York’s Ukrainian community
  • Twelfth Night, the first full Shakespeare production performed in the UK by Footsbarn Travelling Theatre in over 15 years
  • the world premiere of Hamlet: Double Bill, performed by Italy’s La Ribalta Teatro, a production which provides the viewpoints of the gravediggers and the Players on Shakespeare’s tragedy.

Students from York St John University’s Literature and Illustration courses will be helping to run a number of events, providing roles as volunteer coordinators, artist support and liaison, symposium organisation and the Shakespeare in Manga exhibition.

Dr Saffron Vickers Walkling, Festival Advisor and Senior Lecturer in English Literature at York St John University, said:

“York St John University is extremely proud to announce its official sponsorship of the York International Shakespeare Festival for its 2024 edition. After the resounding success of last year’s festival, we continue to bring innovative, exciting Shakespeare and Shakespeare inspired productions to the main stage in our Creative Centre on campus.

“Alongside our hosting of premieres, workshops, readings, talks and exhibitions we’re bringing together practitioners, educators, students, local and global festival contributors to participate in panel discussions and Q&As, covering a wide range of ways in which Shakespeare can be central to the way we develop an understanding of ourselves.

“This festival aligns closely with York St John University’s commitment to social justice, inclusion and diversity, and we’ll be interrogating the ways in which Shakespeare can sometimes exclude, but also how Shakespeare can be appropriated and reconfigured to speak to us all as diverse individuals and as societies.”

Philip Parr, Artistic Director of the York International Shakespeare Festival, said the festival relied heavily on partnerships, both international and within the York community.

“We are delighted to be in the first year of a three-year formal sponsorship with York St John University, which gives us access to spaces, support in marketing and production, and student placements and volunteers,” said Philip.

“We are very pleased to be able to bring our roster of distinguished international artists to York St John, and to provide excellent opportunities for students to get involved with our activities.”

The York International Shakespeare Festival 2024 runs from Thursday 18 April to Sunday 28 April.

For more details and to access the full festival programme please visit the Festival’s website.