Shakespeare Lives marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, and 23 April is Shakespeare Day, commemorating the exact date of the poet and playwright’s death. We are delighted to share with you a series of activities celebrating Shakespeare’s work and legacy.

National Theatre Live

Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou, 23 April
Qingdao Grand Theatre, Qingdao, 23 April

2016 sees some of Shakespeare’s best-loved works being shown in China including Othello starring Adrian Lester, King Lear starring Simon Russell Beale, and Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch. On 23 April, special screening events will be held in Beijing and Shanghai, marking the exact day of the 400th anniversary.

Play Your Part

As part of our Shakespeare Lives campaign, Play Your Part is returning to social media on 23 April to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

For the second burst of Play Your Part, we invite you to share your favourite Shakespeare quote from any of his plays or poems. You can either choose one from our selection of quotes or add your own using Sina Weibo. Take a photo or a short video whilst posing with one of the quote boards (you can either print it out or display it on your mobile or computer), and tell us why you just why you love this quote.

Prizes include 2 British Airways return tickets from China to the UK. We are already looking forward to hearing from our previous two Play Your Part winners, who will fly to the UK soon.

The second phase of Play Your Part will be taking place until the end of May. Please remember to use the hashtags #PlayYourPart# and #ShakespeareLives#  on Sina Weibo to identify your submission.


Benedict Cumberbatch (Hamlet) and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Laertes) in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre. Photo credit Johan Persson
Benedict Cumberbatch (Hamlet) and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Laertes) in Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre.  ©

Photo credit Johan Persson

Bilingual edition of Shakespeare’s complete works in translation  ©


Shakespeare’s Folio in Translation

On 22 April, the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press (FLTRP) and the British Council are holding a book launch event at the National Library in Beijing, to celebrate the launch of a bilingual edition of Shakespeare’s complete works in translation. This bilingual edition is licensed by the Royal Shakespeare Company and published by FLTRP, with full support from the British Council. The full set contains 12 tragedies, 14 comedies, ten histories, two plays not in the First Folio, as well as the poems and sonnets. 

Following the book launch, a year-round online translation competition is announced. Giving participants the chance to translate some of the most favourite Shakespearian segments into Chinese, this opportunity is designed to maximise Shakespeare’s influence and allow people to get involved with this landmark project.

Partnership with Alibaba’s Tmall 

To celebrate the 400th anniversary and coinciding with World Book Day, we’ve partnered with Alibaba’s Tmall –China’s biggest online retailer. Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu will take over the homepage of Tmall’s British Pavilion from 21 April, with a range of digital content and related products.  

Play Your Shakespeare

The UK is the world leader in teaching English and a great place to study English. Over recent months, the British Council has invited students from UK language schools to upload and share clips performing lines from Shakespeare’s plays. Eight videos have been produced using these clips, involving both UK language school teachers and students. These videos will be used as a cultural hook to improve English language teaching and learning. Play your Shakespeare is a digital mass participation project, which will encourage online audiences to watch, create and share content on language study with Shakespeare’s plays on Chinese social media.