Royal Shakespeare Company’s cultural exchange with China

RSC announces the details for its programme of international cultural, artistic and educational exchange with China.

  • The Shakespeare Folio Project. With the opening of Henry V, a decade-long ambition to translating Shakespeare’s works into Chinese has begun its pilot phase working with Chinese translators, writers and theatre makers.  
  • Chinese Classics Project. A project to translate Chinese classics into English has started with call outs to academics and theatre organisations in the UK and China.
  • ‘King & Country’ Tour. Artistic Director Gregory Doran’s acclaimed productions of Henry IV Part I & Part II and Henry V tour Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong from February 2016.

Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director, said: “I profoundly believe that we foster deeper understanding between cultures by sharing and telling each other our stories. I have been hugely excited by the ambitions of our Chinese cultural partners and their interest in working with the Royal Shakespeare Company on these three initiatives. China’s rich dramatic heritage mirrors the epic scale, complexity and universality of Shakespeare’s work, and has a national curriculum which requires young people to study his plays. I am delighted that we are able to bring our work to new audiences in China, with the support of the UK Government, the deep commitment and active engagement of the Chinese Cultural Embassy, and the generous support of J.P. Morgan.” 

The Global Tour Premier Partner for the King & Country Tour in China is J.P. Morgan. Nicolas Aguzin, CEO of J.P. Morgan, Asia Pacific said: “J.P. Morgan is delighted to support the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) as its Global Tour Premier Partner. The RSC tour was announced during the inaugural Governmental UK-China Bilateral Investment Conference in 2014 and we’re proud to be associated with the RSC as they entertain audiences in London, New York, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong with William Shakespeare’s remarkable History Plays. One of J.P. Morgan’s highest priorities is giving back to the communities in which we live and work and we believe that society thrives when rich cultural resources such as this are shared across international borders.”

The Shakespeare Folio Project

With Henry V the RSC begins the first pilot in the initiative to produce new, theatrically viable, Chinese translations of Shakespeare’s plays, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the First Folio in 2023. The RSC will commission the translations from Chinese writers and translators, who will be embedded into the RSC’s rehearsal process. Chinese Shakespeare expert, Professor Zhang Chong, from Shanghai’s Fudan University is translating Henry V working alongside Nick Rongjun YU who is an award-winning playwright, Director of the Shanghai International Contemporary Theatre Festival, Vice-President of the Shanghai Performing Arts Group and Deputy General Manager of Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre.

Chinese Classics Translation Project

The RSC is also working in collaboration with academics and theatre organisations in the UK and China to create new English translations of classical Chinese works. Academics and theatre makers are invited to put forward titles (using a detailed submission form) for consideration. The RSC’s ambition is to explore and discover dramas written and performed in China during the centuries of Shakespeare’s lifetime (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries). These could be:

  • Works written during Shakespeare’s lifetime 1564 – 1616
  • Works written during the Ming Dynasty, after Shakespeare’s life
  • Works written earlier, in the Yuan Dynasty, but still available, and performed or adapted in this period
  • Works written later, but reflecting this era

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