As part of the World Shakespeare Festival programme, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has produced a new exhibition called Shakespeare’s Stories. This Shakespeare's Stories blog series includes a number of videos featuring the exhibition’s guest curator, Jan Blake.
This was a partnership exhibition with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and members of the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre. The exhibition celebrates Shakespeare-the global storyteller-by looking at three of his plays: The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, and Twelfth Night. Jan has spoken about some of the exhibition themes and how we’ve used our collections to help illustrate these, including three fantastic objects on loan from the British Museum.
But I just wanted to take this opportunity on this year's World Refugee Day to thank the members of the Coventry group for all their support and involvement. As part of the exhibition experience, Jan spent several days working with the group, focusing on key speeches from the three plays and helping members develop a performance . You can hear the speeches across our exhibition venues (at the Birthplace, Halls Croft and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre). As the group began to get to grips with the text, they found that it began to unlock experiences and memories of their own; and so, alongside Shakespeare’s words in the exhibition, you can also read the individual members personal responses and stories. We often use the word ‘inspiring’ when we talk about Shakespeare, but sitting in the workshops with Jan, I saw that inspiration in action and how Shakespeare still has the power to connect to people today.
I’d like to leave you with the words of Johana Kissam, one of the members of the Coventry group and his feelings on what working with Shakespeare has meant to him: ‘Working with Shakespeare project has really been a big turning point to me. First and foremost it made me open myself in a way I could not imagine. As per my life I have and still going through obstacles since I came to UK more than ten years ago. This project came to a time that I thought no one could listen to me and thought of forgetting everything in me dying slowly inside. When I worked with Shakespeare project it made me feel free and wanted and communicated my story through them. After conveying my story I felt a certain kind of relief and sign of peace from far echoing. I can really relate my story to that of Shakespeare though written long time his stories are still happening in our daily lives today. Thank you Shakespeare.’
And thank you Johanna and all the Coventry group, Last, Bolash, Patrick and Sara.