A London poetry collection are marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, by putting on celebration of his life, featuring performances from a number of refugee and migrant poets.

Bards Without Borders are putting on the performance at Rich Mix in London on April 23, 400 years to the day that Shakespeare died.


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Co-founder and poet Laila Sumpton said: “Shakespeare is rightly linked with British culture and identity, but he is also truly global.

“Audiences all over the world have seen his works, so we can easily say that England does not ‘own’ Shakespeare. Our bards are exploring this concept and want to invite people to join the conversation when they perform at Rich Mix.

“Our bards are from nine different countries including Nigeria, Columbia, Bosnia, Somalia and Afghanistan.

“The show is about giving the artists a platform to share their experiences as migrants and refugees. And of course, it’s also about giving the audience an opportunity to get a glimpse into the lives of these 10 extraordinary poets.”

The performance will include poetry, live music, puppetry and even a mock wake for the Bard.

The show will also feature ten poets from a refugee background, which will reflect on the themes of journeys, loss, joy and displacement, some with Bards without Borders say are prevalent in Shakespeare’s work.

Arne Pohlmeier, another founder of Bards without Borders, said: “Shakespeare’s plays are brimming with stories of migration, displacement and cultural otherness.

“Many of his characters risk long journeys and end up shipwrecked on foreign shores. Prospero from the Tempest, Pericles from the eponymous play, Viola from Twelfth Night as some of the most obvious.

“Many more of his characters are, or feel, entirely alienated by the people and places around them, which leads them to question their identity, sanity and sense of the real in dynamic and compelling ways, such as Hamlet, Lear, Antipholus of Syracuse in the Comedy of Errors.

“These are experiences that Shakespeare’s characters share with us, the migrants and refugees of today.”

The show will be presented in association with Platforma Arts & Refugees Network, an organisation which supports and develops arts by, about and with refugees and migrants from marginalised communities.

Bards without Borders will performance a celebration of Shakespeare’s life on April 23 at Rich Mix. For more information, click here.