“A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with apologies to William Shakespeare

Updated: August 16, 2012
“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  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.

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