Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, the iconic stars of Franco Zeffirelli’s classic 1968 Romeo and Juliet film, were reunited this week for one magical night of cinema history

Images by Jared Cowan

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On Tuesday 6th December at the historic Aero Theatre in Santa Monica (Los Angeles), Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey – Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet – were reunited.

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Surprisingly, this was the first time they had ever done a post-screening Q&A together. People had flown in from around the US and even as far afield as Belgium to be at this very special event. Organised by Shakespeare Lives, the British Council, the BFI and the GREAT Britain campaign, it marked the end of a memorable Shakespeare Lives year.

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Both actors spoke of their delight in making the classic 1968 film with Franco Zeffirelli, and it was obvious that both actors still have a huge amount of affection for one another, as they riffed off one another’s anecdotes.

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For many years, there has been no 35mm print of this classic film – the only Shakespeare film to have received an Academy Award. The audience on Tuesday were treated to the new digital restoration which looked and sounded amazing on the big screen.

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The audience applauded scenes as if they were watching an opera and there were two standing ovations for the much-loved stars of the film, who stayed in the auditorium to sign pictures and take selfies.

Read about the BFI’s year of Shakespeare on Film.

A Bard in Africa: Enjoy these beautiful and evocative images of this month’s groundbreaking Shakespeare Lives in Botswana event

Students from Maru-a-Pula School perform a scene from devised piece Water and Dust at the Shakespeare Lives in Botswana Showcase photographer Monirul Bhuiyan (3)
Students from Maru-a-Pula School perform a scene from devised piece Water and Dust. [Photo: Monirul Bhuiyan]

Shakespeare Lives in Botswana (Shakespeare o a Tshela) concluded with a sold-out Showcase at the Maitisong Theatre in Gaborone, Botswana. The Showcase was part of the global GREAT Britain Campaign and the British Council’s ‘Shakespeare Lives’ project celebrating Shakespeare’s work on the 400th anniversary of his death.
A local actor performs a scene from Macbeth at the Shakespeare Lives in Botswana Showcase photographer Monirul Bhuiyan
A local actor performs a scene from Macbeth. [Photo: Monirul Bhuiyan]

The Showcase featured performances by students from Maru-a-Pula School, Naledi Senior Secondary School, St Joseph’s College, Kagiso Senior Secondary School, Moeding College, Ledumang Senior Secondary School, the University of Botswana, AFDA, the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, and The Company of Maitisong Theatre.
A government school student reads the Shakespeare Lives in Botswana Showcase programme photographer Monirul Bhuiyan
A government school student reads the Shakespeare Lives in Botswana programme. [Photo: Monirul Bhuiyan]

Government school students performed scenes from their set text of Twelfth Night, while other performers presented selected moments from Shakespeare’s work in dynamic and innovative new interpretations of his plays and poetry.

Botswana poets Barolong Seboni, Moroka Moreri and Mandisa Mabuthoe, and musician Zeus, performed newly-commissioned work written especially for the event.
A student from Maru-a-Pula School performs a scene from devised piece Water and Dust at the Shakespeare Lives in Botswana Showcase photographer Lorraine Kinnear (2)
A student from Maru-a-Pula School performs a scene from Water and Dust. [Photo: Lorraine Kinnear]

Students had the opportunity to work with UK and South Africa theatre practitioners who visited Botswana as part of the project:

Gregory Thompson (University College London), Natalie Ibu (Tiata Fahodzi Theatre Company), Ben Spiller (1623 Theatre Company), ShakeXperience Practitioners from South Africa, Nobulali Dangazele and Greg Homann, and Fiona Drummond (Shakespeare’s Globe Education).
A student from Moeding College performs a scene from Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Lives in Botswana Showcase photographer Lorraine Kinnear
A student from Moeding College performs a scene from Twelfth Night. [Photo: Lorraine Kinnear]

“We are overjoyed to have completed this project in the company of a full house at Maitisong, who were able to see over 100 young people from Botswana performing Shakespeare’s work,” says Project Director Alastair Hagger.
UK High Commissioner to Botswana Katy Ransome holds her copy of Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Lives in Botswana Showcase photographer Monirul Bhuiyan
UK High Commissioner to Botswana Katy Ransome with her copy of Twelfth Night. [Photo: Lorraine Kinnear]

“The ‘Shakespeare o a Tshela’ project has reached thousands of people in Botswana, and planted the seeds of an enduring love for Shakespeare in the young people of this country.”
Local actors perform a scene from Measure for Measure at the Shakespeare Lives in Botswana Showcase photographer Lorraine Kinnear
Local actors perform a scene from Measure for Measure. [Photo: Lorraine Kinnear]

Go here for more on the Maitisong Theatre and the event.

Go here for more on Shakespeare Lives in 2016.

Go here for more on the GREAT Britain campaign.