Pop-up Shakespeare during Paralympic Games

15 August 2012

Shakespearean characters to pop-up in capital’s cultural hotspots during London 2012 Paralympic Games

"If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, and all is mended,

That you have but slumber’d here,

While these visions did appear"

As the capital basks in the success of the London 2012 Games, the cultural celebrations are set to continue with more free events across the city until the end of the Paralympics. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson and London 2012 Festival director Ruth Mackenzie today announced details of 'Surprises: What You Will: Pop-Up Shakespeare', which has been created by award-winning actor Mark Rylance, and will see Shakespearean characters, initially indistinguishable from the crowd, suddenly emerging at London's cultural hot-spots.

Using Shakespeare's famous and exquisite Elizabethan speeches they will be on a mission to surprise and delight Londoners and the capital's visitors with personalised one-to-one performances and flash mob moments. Amongst those appearing on London's streets will be Puck, Hamlet, Cleopatra, Juliet and other characters, played by 50 actors aged 17 to 70, who have been cast by Shakespeare's Globe and include deaf and disabled artists. They will perform brief interactions with the public before disappearing back into the crowd.

What You Will is being staged as part of the Mayor of London Presents programme and the London 2012 Festival and will be a highlight of the cultural celebrations during the Paralympic Games.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'As we go about our daily business we are often so absorbed in where need to be or too self-conscious to interact with the people around us. This is a delightful way to break down those self-imposed barriers. And in the words of the great Bard himself, l do desire we be better strangers.'

Ruth Mackenzie, Director, London 2012 Festival, said: 'The London 2012 Festival pop up events celebrate the surprise that is at the heart of great festivals - the unexpected encounter which delights and can open our eyes, changes minds, even lives. Mark Rylance's pop up Shakespeare was the first pop up we announced, and the one we most eagerly anticipate.'

Actor Mark Rylance said: 'What You Will: Pop-Up Shakespeare is a random act of senseless beauty and an artistic ambush.'

What You Will: Pop-up Shakespeare has been developed by Mark Rylance with Shakespeare's Globe and the Mayor's Office as part of the London 2012 Festival. It is directed by Jonathan Moore and will take place during the first week of the London 2012 Paralympic Games from Tuesday 28 August – Sunday 2 September.

The exact times and locations will remain a surprise until the day of the performances, but people can register for updates at www.molpresents.com/surprises and follow @molpresents and @London2012Fest on Twitter.

For more information about the unprecedented series of cultural events taking place through the Games, go to www.molpresents.com and www.london2012.com/festival.

Notes to editors

Mayor of London Presents

The Mayor of London is supporting a huge programme of free events and cultural activities to add to the excitement of 2012. Working with outstanding international artists and world-class cultural organisations this unprecedented Mayor of London Presents programme is taking place in every corner of the capital to add to and complement the London 2012 Festival. It includes Secrets: Hidden London, with artists and performers transforming hidden and lesser known locations; Showtime, the largest outdoor arts festival ever seen in the capital, with dozens of electrifying artists from the UK and abroad coming to every borough, in high streets, parks and town centres; BT London Live, bringing live action from the Games, as well as sporting activities and entertainment to Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square; and Surprises bringing pop-up performances and once in a lifetime experiences to locations familiar and unusual, above your heads and atop landmark buildings. To be the first to know about what's happening in this Summer Like No Other, sign up or follow us at www.molpresents.com / www.facebook.com/mayoroflondonpresents / www.twitter.com/molpresents

About the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 FestivalThe London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements. Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people. The culmination of the Cultural Olympiad will be the London 2012 Festival, the spectacular 12-week nationwide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK, from Midsummer's Day on 21 June and running until the final day of the Paralympic Games on 9 September 2012.The London 2012 Festival will celebrate the huge range, quality and accessibility of the UK’s world-class culture including dance, music, theatre, the visual arts, fashion, film and digital innovation, giving the opportunity for people across the UK to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Principal funders of the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival are Arts Council England, Legacy Trust UK and the Olympic Lottery Distributor. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival. For more details on the programme, to download the London 2012 Festival official guide and to sign up for information visit www.london2012.com/festival.

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