Monday, 16 August 2010

1623 theatre company comes to Watch This Space at the National Theatre on August bank holiday weekend, when the worlds of Shakespearean tragedy and first aid collide.

Expect some very different outcomes to Shakespeare's plays as actors from 1623 team up with volunteers from the London division of St John Ambulance.

Ophelia will be dragged out of the Thames, Othello's epilepsy will receive expert attention, Leontes will get some help for his panic attack and the tomb scene from Romeo and Juliet will become a multiple emergency scenario.

Ben Spiller, 1623 artistic director and producer, said: “We’re thrilled to be taking our health-and-safety Shakespeare show to Watch This Space at the National Theatre.

“It’s great to be teaming up with St John Ambulance and we’re delighted to be working with the extraordinary Home Live Art, whose Alternative Village Fete provides the setting for Emergency Shakespeare!”

Ann Cable, Commissioner for St St John Ambulance London (Prince of Wales') District, said: "This idea is such a novel one, and a really great way of reaching the public in an informative and engaging way.

"For us, it provides an opportunity to capture in a light-hearted and easily understood manner the types of first aid which we are called upon to deal with."

The scenes from Shakespeare that 1623 will perform may not end quite how the playwright intended them, but the company is determined to engage as many South Bank visitors as possible with his inspirational language, vibrant characters and exciting sense of theatre.

Find out more at


Notes for editors??

Information on Emergency Shakespeare!

Emergency Shakespeare! is part of Home Live Art's Alternative Village Fete, which takes over Watch This Space at the National Theatre on 28 and 29 August 2010.

Saturday 28 August

  • 1.40pm Leontes' panic attack ?
  • 2.40pm Ophelia's drowning?
  • 4.40pm Romeo and Juliet's multiple emergencies?

Sunday 29 August

  • 1.00pm Ophelia's drowning?
  • 2.00pm Othello's epileptic seizure?
  • 2.50pm Romeo and Juliet's multiple emergencies

The scenes run for approximately 20 minutes.

Emergency Shakespeare! was first performed last year at QUAD - Derby's centre for art and film - with the Derby division of St John Ambulance. It was part of Don't Stop Believing, a season at QUAD that explored the art of participation.

Ben Spiller is available for interview on 07867 996959 or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Further details on Emergency Shakespeare! are at

Information on 1623 theatre company??

1623 performs high-quality Shakespeare in non-traditional theatre spaces to engage new and existing audiences with the playwright's inspirational language, vibrant characters and exciting sense of theatre.

Performances by 1623 have taken place at London 2012 Open Weekend, BBC Gardeners' World Live, Royal Derby Hospital, Glastonbury Festival, Milton Keynes Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, Poole's Cavern, RSC Fringe, rural village halls and city spaces.

Patrons of the company are top British playwright Mark Ravenhill and leading Shakespeare expert Professor Carol Rutter at the University of Warwick.

Further details on 1623 are at


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