Saturday, April 23, 2016

Celebrating Shakespeare with a giveaway of Worlds Elsewhere by Andrew Dickson

April 23, 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.  All over the world, people are celebrating Shakespeare's writing and his short life.   They estimate that he was 52 years old when he died on April 23, 1616.  (See his NY Times obituary.)

If you're reading this post, it's likely that you have your own favorite Shakespeare moment - a play or sonnet that spoke to you and speaks to you still.  When we were young, living and studying in the Philippines, my mother, brothers, and I would compare favorite sonnets and speeches from Shakespeare.  Watching the free Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park was  one of the experiences that marked New York City and helped me fall in love with the city.

I'm fortunate that Henry Holt and Company is sponsoring a giveaway of Worlds Elsewhere: Journeys around Shakespeare's Globe.  In Worlds Elsewhere, Andrew Dickson writes about how Shakespeare's stories and writing have spread all over the world and have flourished for more than 400 years.  

Worlds Elsewhere: Journeys around Shakespeare's Globe by Andrew Dickson
  • ISBN-10: 0805097341 - Hardcover $35.00
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (April 5, 2016), 512 pages.

The blurb:
Ranging ambitiously across four continents and four hundred years, Worlds Elsewhere is an eye-opening account of how Shakespeare went global.  Seizing inspiration from the playwright's own fascination with travel, foreignness, and distant worlds -- worlds Shakespeare never himself explored -- Andrew Dickson takes us on an extraordinary journey: from Hamlet performed by English actors tramping through the Baltic states in the early 1600s to the skyscrapers of 21st century Beijing and Shanghai, where "Shashibiya" survived Mao's Cultural Revolution to become a revered Chinese author.

En route, Dickson traces Nazi Germany's strange love affair with , and attempted nationalization of, the Bard, and delves into the history of Bollywood, where Shakespearian stories helped give birth to Indian cinema.  In Johannesburg, we discover how Shakespeare was enlisted in the fight to end apartheid.  In 19th century California, we encounter shoestring performances of Richard III and Othello in the dusty mining camps and saloon bars of the Gold Rush.

No other writer's work has been performed, translated, adapted, and altered in such a remarkable variety of cultures and languages.  Both a cultural history and a literary travelogue, Worlds Elsewhere is an attempt to understand how Shakespeare has become an international phenomenon he is -- and why.

About the Author:
Andrew Dickson was raised in Yorkshire and studied at Cambridge.  He is currently an honorary fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, was a visiting fellow at University of Warwick, and has contributed to The New Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare.  Formerly an arts editor at The Guardian in London, he continues to write regularly for the paper and has also written for The New Yorker online and the New Statesman.  He makes regular appearances on BBC radio and TV as a presenter and review and blogs at

To enter the giveaway, just comment below.  I'd love to read about your favorite Shakespeare play or sonnet, or story made modern.  One entry per person. Limited to the US.  Winners will be chosen on Saturday, May 7, 2016.

This year, BAM and the Royal Shakespeare Company are presenting Richard II, Henry IV Parts I & II and Henry V until May 1.  Tickets are still available for most showings. We weren't allowed to take photos of the stage, all I have to share is this one from intermission.  Try to catch one of the performances if you can!

BAM's collaboration with the Royal Shakespearean Company, 2016. 
King & Country (Richard II, Henry IV Parts I & II, & Henry V)