Living Shakespeare – British Council


Big Ideas worked with the British Council’s Shakespeare Lives programme to bring together an exciting new partnership with the BBC World Service and the Open University. Exceptional public figures around the world wrote about an urgent contemporary issue in relation to the Works of Shakespeare. Headline names include:

US Secretary of State John Kerry wrote about the importance of laughter in international relations in ‘As You Like it: the inspiration of Comedy’


Nigeria’s nobel laureate Wole Soyinka


Ahem Mostaghanemi with Living Shakespeare team

Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka wrote about the response to extremism in his Hamlet-inspired essay, ‘In the Name of Shakespeare!’

The Arab World’s most popular writer Ahlem Mosteghanemi wrote about Antony and Cleopatra in her light hearted short story, ‘When Shakespeare Thought I was Cleopatra’.

Others in the series are South African theatre legend John Kani, British solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie, Bollywood Star Kalki Koechlin, Lebanese percussionist Alissar Caracalla, and Chinese best-selling author Hong Ying.


Living Shakespeare essays are published online and in hard copy by the British Council. You can read all of the essays at

The BBC World Service and the Open University co-funded a series of short films which are broadcast to global audiences via TV, radio and social media. The Living Shakespeare films are being subtitled in up to 20 languages. Watch the films at

This was the first time BBC World Service, the Open University and the British Council had worked together.

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