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‘Female-identifying people’ encouraged to enter Shakespeare competition

Portrait of the British playwright, William Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust announced a programme celebrating the women who contributed to the playwright's success - Photo Josse/Leemage

“Female-identifying” people have been encouraged to enter a short film competition on the theme of “The Women Who Made Shakespeare”.

Contributors will be invited to offer their interpretations of the “female-identifying people” who have contributed to the Bard’s success.

The competition is being put on by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

It is part of a newly announced three-year programme to highlight the “erased and forgotten stories of the women who both influenced Shakespeare during his lifetime, and the female-identifying people who have contributed to his legacy”.

It will begin in 2024 with a focus on “The women in Shakespeare’s life”, followed by “Shakespeare’s Women” in 2025, and “The women who made Shakespeare famous” in 2026.

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which cares for sites including the playwright’s childhood home, announced that the programme “will deliver everything from a female perspective, delivered and developed by prioritising women and female-identifying people”.

The scheme will begin with a competition for short films across several categories, including “Shakespeare Shorter Shorts”, which will be in formats friendly to TikTok.

‘Highly patriarchal’ era

The trust’s website states that the programme will treat the great playwright “not as a single genius”, but as “the figurehead of a community and network of people who enabled and secured his place in the canon of Western literature”.

It adds: “He wrote at a time when society was highly patriarchal and socially stratified.”

The project will address this by “shining a light on those female voices who played their part in his success and have continued to champion the work across the centuries”.

Jennifer Shufflebotham, the audience engagement manager at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “With the launch of ‘The Women Who Made Shakespeare’, 2024 is already an exciting year for the Trust.

“From animations to a documentary-style short, we can’t wait to see how filmmakers creatively engage with this theme, and we’re especially excited to be shining a spotlight on female voices.”