E2E says goodbye
The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project has now concluded. Thank you to our funders, National Lottery Heritage Fund, History West Midlands and others, to our partners, and to our volunteers for helping us to revive Birmingham’s neglected Shakespeare heritage with people and communities across the City. Please see the Library of Birmingham’s Shakespeare pages for information about accessing Birmingham’s great Shakespeare collection and a wealth of related resources.
Ophelia’s Cloak of Power – created by women across Birmingham – to be gifted to the Shakespeare Memorial Library
Women and girls from across Birmingham and Solihull have participated in a series of arts and wellbeing workshops with Friction Arts inspired by Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, encouraging the women to share their stories through textiles and print making.
The stories shared and collated through the workshops, that have been running since March 2023, have been stitched into ‘Ophelia’s Cloak of Power’ which will be processed through the Library of Birmingham on Saturday 25 November before being to Birmingham’s Shakespeare Collection.
Ophelia’s Flowers are key to understanding Ophelia’s state of mind in Act 4 of Hamlet. Within her ‘bouquet’ there are flowers associated with sorrow and mourning, but also happy remembrances; there are flowers that denote purity and chastity alongside flowers given as tokens of sexual or romantic love between partners. In sessions led by artist Joanne Tremarco, who supports people to make beautiful creations out of their lived experience, encouraging and empowering women to feel that their voice matters, participants were introduced to wellbeing practices such as meditation, aromatherapy and herbalism.
Hear Here Her Story takes place at the Library of Birmingham on 25 November from 2pm – 4pm. This is a free, un-ticketed event, open to all, taking place on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Shakespeare’s First Folio at Bullring Birmingham
Saturday 21 October
11am – 4pm
Bullring & Grand Central, Birmingham
"This green plot shall be our stage" A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 3 scene 1
Birmingham’s First Folio’s unprecedented tour of community spaces and places as part of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project culminates in a day of Shakespearean celebration on 21 October from 11am – 4pm at Bullring & Grand Central.
Belonging to all the residents of Birmingham, this unique copy of the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s works turns 400 in November. The event offers a final opportunity for people to come and see it for themselves.
All the performances on the green stage will be BSL interpreted.
Here's what you can expect throughout the day, all for FREE and hosted by Raza Hussain:
First Folio on Display
11am – 4pm
Birmingham’s copy of the First Folio is unique because it is the only one bought as part of a dedicated programme for improving people’s lives through culture and education. It was purchased in 1881 for all the people of Birmingham to access – no maer what their background, wealth or occupation. It is the rst printed edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays. The First Folio Tour has visited 16 venues – from community spaces to libraries and heritage venues.
The Naturals: Shakespeare Begins!
10.30am – 11.25am, 11.30am – 12.25pm 12.30pm – 1.25pm, 2.30pm – 3.25pm, 3.30pm – 4.25pm
The 11.30am and 3.30pm performances will be BSL interpreted.
Starting point: Outside St Martin’s main entrance, Edgbaston Street, Birmingham B5 5BB. Take a theatrical journey, in which the best bits of Shakespeare come to life around you!
Stan’s Cafe: The Commentators
11am – 4pm
Saying it as they see it, bringing their marathon commentary in celebration of the First Folio.
11.15am – 11.55am, 1.30pm – 2.10pm, 3.05pm – 3.35pm
Join K’antu for three very special musical performances, with traditional dance demonstrations and an exciting chance to join in and be part of a mass dance yourself!
11am – 4pm, St Martins Square
Visit the one-of-a-kind DESIblitz Truck Art Bus, featuring South Asian material from Birmingham’s Shakespeare collection.
DESIblitz: Translating Shakespeare
12pm - Shamim Azad
1pm - Sukhi Bart (includes Dhol drumming)
3pm - Abda Khan
As part of DESIblitz Literature Festival, leading South Asian performers and authors will translate famous Shakespearean speeches into Bengali, Punjabi and Urdu.
11.05am – 11.10am,
Children and young people join Ex Cathedra to perform a new song – created together – inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
12.25pm – 12.50pm, 2.20pm – 2.45pm
Join Ex Cathedra Singing Playgrounds Team for two very special participatory performances - part-performance part participatory singing and music sessions [no experience required!].
Birmingham Rep’s Young Rep
12.55pm – 1.05pm & 3.40pm – 3.50pm
Expect dancing, drama and singing as Young Rep celebrate Birmingham’s Great Shakespeare Memorial Library and bring it to life on stage. Inspired by Midsummer Night’s Dream expect original music by company member Tyriq Baker and spoken word written by Kyron-Ellis Bryan.
You can download the programme here Shakespeare's First Folio at Bullring Birmingham
The day is delivered in partnership with Bullring & Grand Central and produced by Outdoor Places Unusual Spaces (OPUS).
Book sniffing the Shakespeare Collection!
Join the Everything to Everybody team and Birmingham Archives for a unique sensory and meditative exploration of Birmingham’s extraordinary Shakespeare collection. Working with Justin Wiggan’s Book Sniffer’s Club, a creative wellbeing project “which aims to get our noses back into our books and make breathing fun again”, we’ll be digging deep into the archives and ourselves to find out what our noses and memories can tell us about all things Birmingham and Shakespeare.
No previous sniffing experience needed!
Sniffing sessions will take place on 12 and 14 October at the Library of Birmingham. Places are free but limited. For more information and to book please visit Eventbrite
Shakespeare Takes Over the Library of Birmingham
Internationally renowned Shakespeare improvisation company, The School of Night, has joined forces with acclaimed Shake it Up to present a world first Shakespeare take over improv day at the Library of Birmingham on Saturday 2 September, 11am – 4.30pm.
In collaboration with the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project, 10/400 celebrates Birmingham’s very own First Folio – which turns 400 this year – as well as the Library of Birmingham’s 10th Birthday. The FREE Shakespeare take-over is fun for all the family with interactive performances, Shakespeare treasures and improvisation.
Oliver Senton, School of Night said: "Be prepared for Shakespeare as you’ve never seen or heard him before! We’ll be having fun with performances which deliver in to the Shakespeare Collection revealing to visitors the hidden treasures of the Library on its 10th Anniversary."
Taking place in locations throughout the Library of Birmingham, the full programme of activities, featuring Olivier Award winning artists, members of the Royal Shakespeare Company and local improvising guest stars will include: School of Night improvising with treasures from the Shakespeare Collection; Shakespeare inspired music from Dylan Emery; Shake It Up Shakespeare using audience suggestions and imaginations to create a brand new Shakespeare play throughout the day; plus amateur West Midlands based improv groups delivering improvised Shakespeare activities throughout the Library.
Birmingham’s First Folio – which belongs to all the people of Birmingham – turns 400 in November and this is another opportunity for members of the public to view the Folio as well as items from Birmingham’s collection which contains more than 40,000 volumes, 17,000 production photographs, 2,000 music scores, hundreds of British and international production posters, 15,000 performance programmes and 10,000 playbills.
The 10/400 family day also celebrates the Library of Birmingham’s 10th Birthday, opened by the then aged 16 year old Malala Yousafzai, the Library has become one of Birmingham’s most iconic buildings. Cllr Suleman, Cabinet Member for Digital, Culture, Heritage & Tourism, Birmingham City Council said: "It seems fitting to be marking the Library of Birmingham’s birthday by celebrating one of Birmingham’s oldest, largest, and most famous historic collections. Public libraries belong to everybody in the city – whether it’s treasures like the Shakespeare Collection or children’s activities and family fun days."
Bertz Associates is proud to present: We Make Brum
An exhibition in collaboration with George Dixon Academy and We Don’t Settle with Everything to Everybody at the Library of Birmingham. 1.9.2023 - 16.9.2023. Part of Birmingham Heritage Week.
Bertz Associates have collaborated with George Dixon Academy & Ark Victoria Academy to reinterpret George Dawson’s ‘everything to everybody’ ethos. While the Civic Gospel was a significant movement in the nineteenth-century for public welfare and cultural participation, its steep history raises questions about how inclusive Dawson, and the idea of culture being ‘everything to everybody’, actually was.
Through sessions led by local arts practitioners with students at George Dixon Academy, and an enlightening lunar campfire with We Don’t Settle, we have reinterpreted ‘everything to everybody’ to celebrate the city of Birmingham. In this brand new exhibition, we showcase the unsung success and lives of ordinary Brummie folk doing amazing things that we just don’t get to hear about.
This exhibition has been led by a group of sixth formers at George Dixon Academy in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Inspired by the Civic Gospel and conversation about attitudes surrounding Brum. The aim of the exhibition is to encompass our vivid communities and celebrate the figures and collectives that create our community and culture.
Featuring new work by Poet Simone Word Smith & Designer Sharonjit Kaur Sutton in collaboration with students of the schools.
DESIblitz Truck Art Bus shares links between Shakespeare and Bollywood in schools across Birmingham
DESIblitz are taking their one of a kind Truck Art Bus – a nine seater minibus – to schools across Birmingham on Tuesday 20 June. In partnership with the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project the Punjabi bus will share South Asian material from Birmingham’s Shakespeare Collection and culminate its trip across the city in Centenary Square from 5pm – 7pm.
The Truck Art Bus was decorated last year by world-renowned professional truck artist Haider Ali from Pakistan, this is the first time it will make a visit to schools including Ark Victoria Academy, Montgomery Primary Academy, Anderton Park Primary School and Chilwell Croft Academy.
The DESIblitz and ‘Everything to Everybody Project’ team will share South Asian material from Birmingham’s Shakespeare Collection at each of the stops. The materials – a mix of digitised pages from plays and adaptations and scans of posters – will include a range of South Asian languages reflecting the 97 languages that appear within Birmingham’s Shakespeare Collection.
DESIblitz will also share items from their recent exhibition – Influence of Shakespeare on Bollywood – which explores how Shakespeare directly and indirectly influenced Bollywood cinema.
Everything to Everybody Summer School
E2E is offering another FREE Summer School from 7th – 11th August for anyone aged 18-25 interested in getting hands-on experience of delivering a heritage project and learning more about archives.
If you’ve ever wondered what working in heritage or being an archivist is like, it’s a great opportunity to see behind the scenes at the Library of Birmingham, and to gain experience organising events, designing social media, supporting an exhibition, learning about digitising and cataloguing and more.
No previous volunteer or paid experience in libraries, archives, heritage or Shakespeare is necessary, just an interest and willingness to learn. Travel expenses and lunch each day will be reimbursed. Priority will be given to people not currently in education or regular employment, and who might face barriers to working in these areas or gaining internships. Priority will also be given to Birmingham residents. Good English language skills needed, but this does not need to be your first language.
For more information please email Lauren, the project’s community engagement officer: firstname.lastname@example.org. To register your interest please click here. Please note that the deadline for applications is 16 June.
'You can see me , but I don't exist': new exhibition open on 31 May
“You can see me, but I don’t exist” is an exhibition of photography by Alan Gignoux and creative writing by people seeking refuge living in Birmingham, London, and Manchester.
The exhibition will be open to the public in the Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham from 31 May – 7 August 2023, and is presented in collaboration with the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project. The project and exhibition are sponsored by a National Lottery Project Grant awarded by Arts Council England.
While photographing refugees in France, Belgium, Austria, and Sweden in 2018, Alan Gignoux noticed that a recurring theme among them was the gradual erosion of self, resulting from prolonged periods of living at the fringes of society. Similarly, he heard many of them talk of being invisible both to the immigration bureaucracies and to the wider societies in the countries in which they were seeking asylum.
He was particularly struck by the words of a young Afghan man in his final year at school seeking asylum in Sweden: “You can see me, but I don’t exist.” The young man was awaiting a response to his third and final appeal for permission to remain in the country and was expressing frustration at the way in which the asylum process had suspended him for years in a no man’s land of enforced separation from Swedish society. Borrowing its title from the Afghan man’s words, this UK-based project aims to explore the dehumanisation experienced by people seeking refuge.
Often, refugees and asylum seekers in the UK endure extended periods of uncertainty while awaiting a response to their applications. Unable to work, they may endure poverty or destitution, poor physical and mental health, and even danger. If their application is rejected, they must come to terms with not only the wasted years but also the frightening prospect of being forced to return to a country that they risked all to leave. Those who remain in the UK after their asylum application has been rejected face an uncertain and insecure future, entirely dependent on the support of family, friends, and charitable organisations. In addition, the UK is becoming increasingly hostile to refugees. Since the introduction of new legislation, refugees who arrive in the UK using routes not sanctioned by the government will no longer be able to apply for asylum but will instead be deported back to their country of origin or to Rwanda.
Working with a camera obscura, Gignoux used a long exposure to blur the identity of the refugees whom he photographed while leaving the background in focus. This intentional blurring has a practical purpose as many people seeking refuge live in fear of the authorities and prefer to remain unidentifiable. However, it is simultaneously intended to be a visual metaphor for the corrosive impact of the asylum-seeking process on people.
Gignoux wanted to include the refugees’ voices in the project and so he invited the people whom he photographed, as well as other refugees who wanted to participate, to write a creative response to the blurred portraits.
Their creative writing was developed in workshops led by experienced poets: Malka al Haddad (Birmingham), Laila Sumpton (London), and Ambrose Musiyiwa (Manchester). Working together as a group, or individually, the people addressed the themes that the portraits explore, including the shared experience of limbo described in this extract:
I am still waiting for a decision together with my family. A feeling of belonging nowhere is always present. We cannot go back without putting our lives at risk, But we do not belong here yet, either.
However, they also write of the positive welcome they have received in Birmingham “a big city with its love of diverse cultures,” which has supported them generously:
Birmingham Community is our handrail. It keeps our heads held high and puts a smile on our tired faces. It is the first touch of love we have reached.
The pilot phase of the project took place in London in summer 2022. Thanks to a National Lottery Project Grant, the project was extended to Manchester and Birmingham in autumn 2022 and spring 2023.
Exhibitions of Gignoux’s photographs and the refugees’ creative writing will take place in all three participating cities timed to coincide with Refugee Week, 19-25 June 2023.
Birmingham Collaborations In Birmingham, Gignoux worked with two refugee organisations, Stories of Hope and Home and Baobab Women’s Project, an advocacy organisation with refugee and migrant women. The writing workshop facilitator was Iraqi poet Malka al-Haddad.
The exhibition of Gignoux’s photos and the refugee creative writing on display in the Shakespeare Memorial Room is a collaboration between the photographer and the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project, whose mission is to unlock the first, oldest and largest Shakespeare collection in any public library in the world. The exhibition incorporates a selection of items that engage with stories of exile, highlighting texts from, amongst others, The Tempest and The Comedy of Errors that address these themes.
Shakespeare themed writing workshops related to the exhibition will be offered to the public on 12 June and 29 July. The workshops will be led by Laila Sumpton and Arne Johnson of Bards Without Borders, a collective formed of ten poets from around the world that draws on Shakespeare’s works to explore themes related to exile.
To book the workshops please visit Eventbrite
Birmingham’s First Folio to continue unprecedented tour of communities in 2023
Birmingham’s First Folio is set to continue its unprecedented tour of community spaces throughout 2023 as part of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project. Belonging to all the residents of Birmingham, the People’s Folio will be toured around the City in advance of the First Folio’s 400th birthday in November 2023.
Birmingham’s copy of the First Folio is unique because it is the only one bought as part of a dedicated programme for improving people’s lives through culture and education. It was purchased in 1881 for all the people of Birmingham - no matter what their background, wealth or occupation.
This uniqueness will be explored in a special BBC Radio 3 programme ‘Shakespeare’s Brum Ting’ which will be broadcast on Sunday 26 March. Presented by Professor of Literature and History at Birmingham City University, Islam Issa, ‘Shakespeare’s Brum Ting’ includes interviews with ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project Director Professor Ewan Fernie (University of Birmingham) and Project Collaborator and artist, Mohammed Ali.
In 2023, the Folio’s birthday year, it will visit:
23 April (Shakespeare’s Birthday) – Aston Hall
13 May – South Yardley Library
3 June – Dorothy Parkes Centre, Smethwick
19 June – Handsworth Library
2 July – The Core Library, Solihull
21 August – St Barnabas Church, Erdington
28 September - Northfield Shopping Centre
21 October – Bullring & Grand Central, Birmingham.
There will also be a special visit to the Library at HMP Winson Green.
To date the First Folio has visited Sutton Coldfield Library, the Black Country Living Museum, Sense Touchbase Pears, Selly Manor, Highbury Hall, Gap Arts and The Hive in the Jewellery Quarter and has been seen by almost 1500 people.
The First Folio tour is aimed at raising awareness of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Memorial Library. Founded in 1864, the collection of more than 100,000 items is both the first major Shakespeare library in the world and also the only extensive Shakespeare collection which belongs to the people of a city. Each venue or partner will connect with the Shakespeare collection – and therefore the First Folio – in a way that is unique to them and their interests.
Further community venues will be confirmed in the coming months: follow ‘Everything to Everybody’ social media channels for announcements.
George Dawson and Samuel Timmins Blue Plaques unveiled in the Shakespeare Memorial Room
The Birmingham Civic Society and ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project unveiled Blue Plaques commemorating the work of George Dawson and Samuel Timmins in the Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham on 28 February 2023.
The unveiling took place against the backdrop of a new exhibition from the Jewellery Quarter Research Trust celebrating Birmingham’s Shakespeare heritage in relation to Dawson and Timmins.
The exhibition in the Shakespeare Memorial Room, ‘The Heroic Age in Birmingham History’ is the sixth community curated exhibition created as part of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project. The Jewellery Quarter Research Trust’s exhibition tells the story of how George Dawson, Samuel Timmins, Joseph Chamberlain and JT Bunce made a significant impact on Birmingham’s history contributing to the improvement of health and living conditions, as well as the founding of municipal buildings: schools, museums, swimming baths, hospitals and libraries.
The exhibition, on display until mid-April, charts the impact these individuals, along with their colleagues who made up the ‘Our Shakespeare Club’ – founded in 1858 – had in the life of the wider community.
New exhibition exploring the signs, symbols and prints in the Shakespeare Collection goes on show in the Shakespeare Memorial Room.
The Hive in the Jewellery Quarter have worked with artist Iona McCuaig and participants from a women’s group from Restore Birmingham to create a new exhibition, Shakespeare Im.Print, for the Shakespeare Memorial Room as part of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project.
The FREE exhibition runs from 8 December until 25 February 2023 and is a response to the prints, illustrations, signs and symbols that are part of the Shakespeare collection housed at the Library of Birmingham which comprises over 100,000 items from all over the world about and inspired by Shakespeare.
Of particular inspiration to this new exhibition – which will feature work created through mark-making, mono-printing, collage and metal embossing – are the fine printings and artworks featured in the collection from artists such as Picasso and Salvador Dali. The collection also includes limited and private press editions from Birmingham’s very own School of Printing.
All The World’s A Stage… An RPG Event at The Library of Birmingham
Join Everything to Everybody and Winghorn Press for an unforgettable night of history, Shakespeare and … DND?
Inspired by the more playful items in the collection – playing cards, Macbeth the Video Game and more – E2E have commissioned an RPG content creator to design a bespoke DND style adventure that celebrates and reimagines the history of the Shakespeare Memorial Library and the city it belongs to!
On 27th October the Library of Birmingham is opening up the ‘Everything to Everybody: Your Shakespeare, Your Culture’ exhibition in the Gallery on Floor 3 after hours for players to play ‘All the World’s A Stage’, surrounded by items from the collection itself.
Places are limited so booking is essential – please book on Eventbrite
The Influence of Shakespeare on Bollywood - New documentary screens at The Rep
In a special new film, to be screened at Birmingham Rep on Thursday 20 October, DESIblitz explore how Shakespeare influenced Bollywood filmmaking. Presented in collaboration with the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project, the documentary seeks to reconnect Bollywood with the diversity of the Shakespeare Memorial Library - the world’s first great people’s Shakespeare Library.
Tickets for the special screening are £8 and can be purchased via visit Birmingham-rep.co.uk, call 0121 235 4455 or visit the box office during opening hours.
In this documentary, Indian film experts and enthusiasts share their views on how Shakespeare influenced Bollywood scripts and how, conversely, Bollywood’s depiction of Indian culture provided a rich lens for re-interpreting Shakespeare.
Indi Deol, DESIblitz commented: “This new documentary plays a significant role in documenting and educating people from all backgrounds about the role that Shakespeare played in the shaping the Bollywood film industry. We are excited to be screening our film at The Rep on the 20th of October and to be working closely with our project partners, Everything to Everybody, to strengthen the Shakespeare collection!”
The Birmingham Shakespeare Library contains works in over 90 languages, among these are nearly 100 South Asian translations, adaptations, and modernisations of Shakespeare. From Indian theatres performing Shakespeare during the colonial era to modern blockbuster hits, Shakespeare’s plays have constantly enticed Indian theatre- and film-makers to use his work to tell their own stories.
As part of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project, and as an accompaniment to the documentary, there is still chance to visit a free exhibition, curated by DESIblitz in response to the Shakespeare Collection, exploring how Shakespeare has, directly and indirectly, influenced Bollywood cinema, in the Shakespeare Memorial Room in the Library of Birmingham until 28 October 2022.
‘Everything to Everybody’ brings the Fun Palaces campaign to the Library of Birmingham!
On Saturday 1st October from 11am-4pm join Everything to Everybody at the Library of Birmingham to celebrate and join in all things libraries, Brum and Shakespeare.
All activities are free to take part in, and everyone of all ages, abilities and interests are welcome!
Some activities (marked with an asterix) can be booked in advance via Eventbrite from 26th September.
Your Fun Palace programme includes…
• Clay bust making, quill writing and seal making with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
• Arts and crafts with Birmingham Centre for Arts Therapies
• Workshops* and live performance with Told By An Idiot
• Shakespeare and Bollywood with Desiblitz
• History talks and workshops from The REP volunteers*
• Scrapbooking, badge making and other crafts
• Storytime with Library of Birmingham Librarians
• Tactile Gallery from Sense Arts
• Birmingham Archives Treasure Hunt
• Collections Open Day – see original items from the Shakespeare Memorial Collection! *
• And much more!
FREE exhibition explores the influence of Shakespeare on Bollywood
A new, FREE, exhibition, curated by DESIblitz.com will explore the influence of Shakespeare on Bollywood from 13 August until 28 October 2022 in the Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham as part of The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project.
The Indian film industry known as ‘Bollywood’ is the home of films packed with love, romance, action and tragedy. This exhibition, curated by DESIblitz.com and inspired by the Shakespeare Memorial Library, explores how Shakespeare has, directly and indirectly, influenced Bollywood cinema.
The exhibition is a collaboration with the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project which seeks to reconnect the diversity of the Shakespeare Memorial Library to the vibrant city and the people to whom it belongs. There are works in 94 languages in the Shakespeare Memorial Library. It contains nearly 100 South Asian translations and adaptations, some of which were added to the collection shortly after it was founded in 1864.
Identifying gaps in the collection and making and celebrating connections that have previously been unseen or overlooked is part of the challenge. This exhibition contributes to trying to unearth and acknowledge the untold or unrecognized histories behind the collection.
Whilst the exhibition is on in the Shakespeare Memorial Room, DESIblitz will host a special screening of a new documentary exploring how Shakespeare influenced Bollywood filmmaking through time, at Birmingham Rep on Thursday 20 October.
From Indian theatres performing Shakespeare during the colonial era to modern blockbuster hits, Shakespeare’s plays have constantly enticed Indian theatre- and film-makers to use his work to tell their own stories. In this documentary, Indian film experts and enthusiasts share their views on how Shakespeare swayed scripts and how, conversely, Bollywood’s depiction of Indian culture provided a rich lens for re-interpreting the Bard’s stories.
This documentary seeks to reconnect the diversity of the Shakespeare Memorial Library to this vibrant city and the people to whom it belongs. Tickets to the screening available here
Everything to Everybody: Your Shakespeare, Your Culture Exhibition opens at the Library of Birmingham
Everything to Everybody: Your Shakespeare, Your Culture opens on Level 3 at the Library of Birmingham on 22 July and runs until November 2022. Free to visit, the exhibition is a collaboration between the Royal Shakespeare Company and the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project and is presented by the Birmingham 2022 Festival.
The exhibition brings to life the Shakespeare Memorial Library with objects from the collection and new responses to Birmingham’s distinctive Shakespeare heritage in film and spoken word. The exhibition challenges visitors to think about what culture means to them today and how they themselves can effect change in the city.
Visitors can learn about the pioneering founders of the Shakespeare Memorial Library as well as seeing first-hand some of the precious collection of Bard-related items, translations and programmes. The exhibition will also feature the collection’s rare 1623 Shakespeare First Folio: the first collected volume of Shakespeare’s plays and bought for Birmingham’s public collection in 1881. It is the only copy of this historic book purchased as part of a programme of education and inclusion for the working classes.
The exhibition brings nineteen-century activism into the present day with a section called Future Forward featuring a powerful new commission by Birmingham Poet Laureate Casey Bailey and a film titled A Great Feast of Languages – What is this City but its People?
The exhibition aims to highlight the Shakespeare Memorial Library’s relevance to the people of Birmingham today as well as showcasing the more than 40,000 volumes, 17,000 production photographs, 2,000 music scores, hundreds of British and international production posters, 15,000 performance programmes and 10,000 playbills that can be found in the collection.
Visitors can also participate taking a selfie within the exhibition and they will have the opportunity to share a cultural highlight such as a book, film or song which has impacted on their lives. For children there is the chance to construct a library out of building blocks and for all visitors an opportunity to create a pin badge advocating for change in the community.
Everything to Everybody: Your Shakespeare, Your Culture is curated by the Royal Shakespeare Company Creative Placemaking & Public Programmes Team. The exhibition is presented by the Birmingham 2022 Festival, generously funded by Arts Council England and the National Heritage Lottery Fund.
Shakespeare’s Coming Home
The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project joined with partners The Rep and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) for the premiere screening of Shakespeare’s Coming Home, a film created during 2020 and featuring an intergenerational community cast, as well as special guests Adrian Lester and Frank Skinner, to celebrate Birmingham’s uniquely democratic Shakespeare heritage.
Shakespeare’s Coming Home sees pages from Shakespeare’s First Folio fly into Birmingham Rep and the Library of Birmingham as the cast – made up of volunteers from The Rep’s various learning and participation projects - perform the ‘seven ages of man’ with scenes from across Shakespeare’s plays incorporating different languages and British Sigh Language. The film triumphantly demonstrates the power of Shakespeare to leap off the page and directly address our contemporary lives and moment.
The film opens with Adrian Lester and Frank Skinner introducing the viewer to Birmingham’s 1623 First Folio. The only First Folio in the world bought as a vision of comprehensive culture, purchased for the people of Birmingham, it is stamped ‘free libraries of Birmingham’ and was part of the Council’s aim to provide accessible education for all citizens, not just those from wealthy backgrounds.
Watch the full film here: Shakespeare's Coming Home
The First Folio to visit communities across Birmingham throughout 2022
Birmingham’s copy of the First Folio is unique because it is the only one bought with the aim of improving people’s lives through culture and education. It was purchased in 1881 for all the people of Birmingham - no matter their background, wealth or occupation, and with the First Folio Tour we want to take this resource to as many people as possible.
The First Folio Tour will begin at Sutton Coldfield Library, as part of FOLIO Sutton Coldfield’s celebration of William Shakespeare’s birthday, on the 23 April. This will be the first time ever that the Folio has left its home, the Library of Birmingham. You can book a place to view the Folio from 10 March.
The tour continues through to October with stops at a range of locations including the Black Country Living Museum, Sense Touchbase Pears, Selly Manor, Highbury Hall, Gap Arts and The Hive in the Jewellery Quarter. Keep an eye on this website and our social media for more information on precise tour dates.
The Folio will visit more locations in 2023.
‘Everything to Everybody: Your Shakespeare, Your Culture’ exhibition
The ‘Everything to Everybody: Your Shakespeare, Your Culture’ exhibition, part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival and curated by the Royal Shakespeare Company, will open on 22 July and run until 5 November at the Library of Birmingham.
The exhibition invites audiences to immerse themselves in the unique story of the People’s Shakespeare Library – home to more than 40,000 volumes, 17,000 production photographs, 2,000 music scores, hundreds of British and international production posters, 15,000 performance programmes and 10,000 playbills.
The exhibition will encourage visitors to ask themselves what culture means for them with interactive exhibits encouraging visitors to share their culture, make their mark and create their own version of a library. Visitors will be welcomed to the exhibition in a specially commissioned short film made with the young people of the city. The exhibition will also feature a brand new spoken-word piece, recorded especially for the ‘Everything to Everybody: Your Shakespeare, Your Culture’ exhibition by Birmingham’s Poet Laureate Casey Bailey and of course, the First Folio itself will be on display.
Keep an eye on our website for more information over the coming months.
Shakespeare versus Birmingham: 150 new diptychs inspired by Shakespeare and Birmingham to go on show in the Shakespeare Memorial Room
Stan’s Cafe have been working with pupils from University of Birmingham School to reimagine Shakespeare’s stories in Birmingham. The resulting exhibition will see 150 diptychs go on show in the Shakespeare Memorial Library at the Library of Birmingham from 15 February until the end of March 2022.
Shakespeare vs Birmingham is the second in a series of five-community curated exhibitions created as part of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project.
Pupils were challenged to re-stage Shakespeare on their doorsteps through photography. They took inspiration from Shakespeare’s plays and then matched their own photographs with some from the amazing collection of 15,000 photographs dating from 1899 and from all over the world that are part of Birmingham’s historic Shakespeare collection. The result is a series of brilliant, often playful diptychs that speak to how Shakespeare relates to the worlds and lives of young people today.
Everything to Everybody Family Day 26 February
The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project invites you to a free Family Fun Day at the Library of Birmingham on 26th February celebrating and sharing Birmingham’s very own great Shakespeare Library! We will be joined by Stans Café, Birmingham Centre for Arts Therapies, poet and hip hop artist Kurly, and Sword Dance to offer a full day of activities, including:
‘Make Your Own Folio’ craft
Plant Print Workshop with BCAT
Stage Combat Workshops with Sword Dance
Photography with Stans Café
Poetry and Spoken Word workshops with poet and hip hop artist Kurly
Trivia Treasure Hunt
Dress Up Shakespeare
… And more!
Including performances and talks as part of The REP Discovery Day
All activities are free, from 11am-4pm across 4 floors of the Library of Birmingham!
“The strawberry grows underneath the nettle”: new community-curated exhibition opens in the Shakespeare Memorial Room
Birmingham Centre for Art Therapies (BCAT) worked with communities across Birmingham to create a new exhibition titled “the strawberry grows underneath the nettle”, inspired by a quote from Henry V.
Created by members of the BCAT community in response to items from the Shakespeare collection, the exhibition opens in the Shakespeare Memorial Room at the Library of Birmingham on 30 November 2021 and runs until 22 January 2022.
The exhibition includes work created through a series of community workshops, delivered by BCAT in 6 libraries and other community spaces, inspiring people to connect with the Shakespeare Memorial Library and the themes of ‘growing Shakespeare’.
Theming both the workshops and exhibition on plants found in items in the Shakespeare collection suddenly became more relevant during the pandemic, when many people rediscovered the importance of gardens and green spaces as places to meet friends and family, and for wellbeing. Participants explored plants found in key texts from the collection, such as Gerard’s Herball, a compendium of plants first published in Shakespeare’s lifetime. The exhibition includes handmade books, clay inspired by plants in the architecture of the Shakespeare Memorial Room itself, prints, creative writing and more.
Find out about the world’s first great Shakespeare library
Ever wanted to learn stage fighting? Create your own stage design? Contribute to a People’s Folio? Perform Shakespeare to your friends? And meet the founder of Birmingham’s historic Shakespeare Library, George Dawson?
The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project and Mrs History have joined forces to deliver a Family Fun Day on 9 October, 1pm – 4pm at the Library of Birmingham as part of Libraries Week. All activities are free, some booking is required on the day.
The afternoon of activities, inspired by Victorian Birmingham, includes art, craft, performance, tours, action and an opportunity to find out about the world’s first great Shakespeare Library, right here in Birmingham. If you’ve ever wanted to learn stage fighting, create your own stage design, contribute to a People’s Folio and perform some Shakespeare yourself, then this is the day for you.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to meet George Dawson, the man who formulated the ‘everything to everybody’ ethos, as he welcomes visitors to the Shakespeare Memorial Room and explains when and why the room was created.
The full programme of activities includes: • Creative make and take activity with artist Sally Harper – create a piece of art including a stage design • Fun Fight with Historical Interpreter Mark Vance of Marks in Time – learn how to, safely, stage fight • People’s Folio Writing Activity – write or draw your favourite parts of Shakespeare’s plays to create a ‘People’s Folio’ • Performances by you – perform much loved works of Shakespeare for yourself and your friends • Impressive Expressions – choose an emotion at random from Mrs History’s lucky dip and make an impressive expression on a face template or give your best emotion performance • Meet George Dawson – actor Ash Bayliss of Shout Out History becomes George Dawson meeting visitors to the Shakespeare Memorial Room, introducing them to the space and explaining why the room was created • Everything to Everybody Trivia Trail – follow a special Everything to Everybody trail through the building and be awarded with a special completion certificate when you complete the trail
Family Fun Day visitors are invited to share their creations and performances via social media tagging the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project and Mrs History.
Happy Birthday Mr Shakespeare!
The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project is celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday on 23 April with the release of a specially commissioned birthday music video: Like to the Lark.
Funded by History West Midlands, the Like to the Lark music and video has been created by the Ex Cathedra Education Team. Written by Dan Ludford-Thomas, it represents Birmingham’s birthday present to Shakespeare.
Inspired by the Bard, the Shakespeare Memorial Library at the Library of Birmingham, and the progressive values of George Dawson and the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project, Like to the Lark is a song of freedom and solidarity. It resonates especially as the project seeks to unlock the Shakespeare Collection and our city begins to shake off the restrictions of the national lockdown.
World's Stage films
World’s Stage, a multilingual celebration of Birmingham, Brummies and their Shakespeare, was premiered as part of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project in a special online screening on 3 February 2021. The seven short films making up World’s Stage are being released daily on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and You Tube.
Created by 27:31 and Creative Multilingualism as part of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project and featuring a company of 140 multilingual Brummies, World’s Stage features the majority of the 93 languages that are reflected in the Shakespeare Collection at the Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library.
Daniel Tyler-McTighe, a freelance theatre-maker, educator and director of 27:31, collaborated with BAFTA-winning film-makers John Roddy (Audio Basement) and Ollie Walton (Fix8Films Ltd) and production manager Laura Killeen (General Manager, The Playhouse) to create the films.
World’s Stage – film premiere
Wednesday 3 February, 7pm – 8.30pm
On Zoom, book via Eventbrite
World’s Stage to be introduced by Professor Ewan Fernie and Director Daniel Tyler-McTighe and to include a post screening Q&A.
The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project invites you to ‘a great feast of languages’ and the world premiere of World’s Stage, a multilingual celebration of Birmingham, Brummies and their Shakespeare, in five acts.
Created by 27:31 and Creative Multilingualism as part of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project and featuring a company of 140 multilingual Brummies, World’s Stage is a series of seven short films made with community performers using the majority of the 93 languages that are reflected in the Shakespeare Collection at the Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library.
Daniel Tyler-McTighe, a freelance theatre-maker, educator and director of 27:31, collaborated with BAFTA-winning film-makers John Roddy (Audio Basement) and Ollie Walton (Fix8Films Ltd) and production manager Laura Killeen (General Manager, The Playhouse) to create the films.
World’s Stage is co-funded by the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project and Creative Multilingualism/Multilingual Performance Project (AHRC, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Reading University, Birmingham City University, Pittsburgh University and School of Oriental and Asian Studies, London).
Project partner Birmingham Centre for Art Therapies is developing a project called Growing Shakespeare which asks, what do you want to grow in 2021?
Growing Shakespeare will use the creative arts to uncover the stories of Birmingham’s almost-forgotten Shakespeare Memorial Library and connect them with the people of Birmingham today. People from all walks of life are invited to send in an idea, poem, artwork, photo or story of something they would like to grow in 2021. Participants can use any art form and any language. Responses will help to inform the content of live workshops planned for the Spring.
Lead artist Sarah Dyble commented: “Shakespeare wrote for the people around him, taking inspiration from everybody he knew. I’ve discovered Shakespeare’s work voiced in rap, in art, in music and in many discussions and performances in every language from Punjabi to Spanish to Arabic. Connecting with DesiBlitz, Birmingham Centre for Arts Therapies and Everything to Everybody, I hope to ensure Growing Shakespeare gives the people of Birmingham an opportunity to link Shakespeare’s works with their own stories, and share ideas about issues which Shakespeare might have discussed if he were writing plays today.”
You can email your stories, artwork, photos and ideas to Sarah: email@example.com
Shakespeare, Race and Pedagogy
Shakespeare, Race & Pedagogy is a five-day, free, online event which seeks to share, celebrate, and reinvigorate approaches to the teaching and study of Shakespeare's plays.
Bringing together contributions from international scholars, teachers, students, and our multilingual communities to investigate Shakespeare's plays and their place in our classrooms. Exploring a range of mediums including translations, the Everything to Everybody collection, and British Sign Language in the classroom as exciting opportunities to teach, study, and enjoy Shakespeare's plays.
Revisiting and building upon international scholarship, research, and education, Shakespeare, Race & Pedagogy aims to challenge perceptions and address the contextual complexities of language and race, creating a dialogue between the past and the present to include and inspire our current and future scholars, students, teachers.
For more informaiton and to register please visit Shakespeare, Race and Pedagogy
‘O brave new world?’ Shakespeare, Birmingham and America
The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project is recovering Birmingham’s unique heritage as home to the largest and oldest Shakespeare collection in any public library in the world. Recently, it has also begun to uncover the truly global influence and reach of this historic people’s Shakespeare library, which has holdings in some 93 languages.
In a special History West Midlands film and two associated podcasts, the Project Director, Professor Ewan Fernie, and ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project American International Champion, Professor Katherine Scheil, share some of the excitement of re-establishing the links between Birmingham’s nineteenth-century Shakespeare heritage and the development of Shakespeare in America.
In The Tempest, when she is faced with human society for the first time, Shakespeare’s cast-away Miranda says, “O brave new world / That has such people in’t!” Her father, Prospero, wearily replies, “’Tis new to thee.” But in the middle of the nineteenth century, George Dawson and the other founders of Birmingham’s pioneering Shakespeare library, really believed Shakespeare could play a role in regenerating culture.
Dawson regarded Shakespeare’s plays as “the newest Bible, the sweetest, truest teachings of the truths of the future that the world ever had.” When he crossed the Atlantic to visit America in 1874, he cemented relationships between British and American Shakespeareans which had lasting effects on America’s cultural institutions and landscape.
While Fernie and Scheil’s new article on Shakespeare, Birmingham and America uncovers much of this lost history, it also shows that Dawson’s visit to the States exposed serious limitations to his “everything to everybody” ethos – limitations it is vitally important to acknowledge and move beyond today in favour of making culture more equal and inclusive.
Download the materials here: History West Midlands website
Be Not Afeard: the isle is full of noises
Ex Cathedra, in partnership with the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project and Birmingham Music Education Partnership, have launched Singing Playgrounds for all Birmingham primary schools during the coronavirus pandemic. Ex Cathedra has reimagined its award-winning Singing Playgrounds for these times to enable Key Stage 2 children to play safely through singing in the playground, reclaiming Birmingham’s unique Shakespeare heritage for themselves.
This unique, free, singing programme will offer every Birmingham primary school access to an online resource comprising a series of lessons and (circa 50) films in which the Singing Playgrounds team will be in the classroom via the whiteboard facilitating and guiding children and teachers.
Children will be enabled to sing and play through singing, share their own singing games from their own families and cultures, and to create and compose their own singing games in their own responses to Shakespeare’s words.
Singing together releases oxytocin, a feel-good hormone, and cortisol (stress) is reduced. Feelings of isolation are reduced. Singing-play is a very special way for children to improve their wellbeing, develop musicianship and vocal skills as well as personal and social skills.
Birmingham primary schools should visit the Singing Playgrounds website to sign up for the ‘Birmingham Programme’ with their school email address.
Singing Playgrounds is free to all Birmingham primary schools.
Dynamic Duos, Impressive Expressions, Victorian Letters & Playbills
The ‘Everything to Everybody' Project and Mrs History present four fun, free resources for children and their families this half-term. The resources, which can be used at home, individually or as part of a family group, introduce children and young people to one of Birmingham’s hidden treasures, Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library.
The first of ten resources, designed especially for the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project, are aimed at families with primary school age children, although they could be adapted for older children. Covering Dynamic Duos, Impressive Expressions, Victorian Letters and Playbills, children are invited to draw their own comic strips, create theatrical masks, write to a family member, and design an advertisement for their own family show!
Rachel Hunter Rowe of Mrs History said: “Our aim is to produce resources that introduce many of the themes, personalities and physical objects associated with the Shakespeare collection, to a family audience. We are keen to reveal to younger audiences the significance of the formation of the Shakespeare Memorial Library in the context of Victorian Birmingham. We also hope to draw links between Shakespeare’s plays and aspects of the primary curriculum. This way, the themes of the resources will be familiar enough to children and young people that they can confidently, actively lead the experience with the adults.”
‘Everything to Everybody’ Project Director, Professor Ewan Fernie commented: “These resources are a wonderful and engaging way for children and young people to begin to explore the publicly-owned treasures held at Birmingham’s Shakespeare Memorial Library. We’re delighted that the brilliant Mrs History have created activities which can be downloaded at home during the pandemic, alongside resources which will open up Birmingham’s great and neglected Shakespeare heritage for children when we’re able to invite them back inside.”
Families downloading the resources are encouraged to share their artworks, letters and designs tagging the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #EverythingtoEverybody.
Mrs History are one of a host of community partners working as part of the 'Everything to Everybody' Project to work with Birmingham’s communities to explore, interrogate and improve the World’s first great Shakespeare Library.
Download the Mrs History ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project resources here: Case Studies
Study with us!
The 'Everything to Everybody' Project is offering a Collaborative Doctoral Award through the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Partnership.
The proposed research will test and refine the case the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project is making for Birmingham’s uniquely democratic Shakespeare heritage. Its particular contribution will be to provide a full-length scholarly analysis of the 150-year history of the first great Shakespeare library in the world.
Find out more about the award and how to apply here: Midlands4Cities Find A Project