Simon Callow gives a voice to Shakespeare at the British Library as part of Talking Statues

Shakespeare status at the British Library (c) Jennifer Howe
  • The bard will talk from Friday 12 December

We’re used to seeing him performing on the stage but now Simon Callow lends his voice to the Library’s statue of William Shakespeare for Talking Statues, the public art project which has animated statues across London and Manchester.

Simon Callow has animated one of three winning monologues for Give A Statue a Voice, the public writing competition, sponsored by Audible.co.uk. Winners were chosen by an expert panel from over 500 submissions. The criteria?  Under 400 words and entertaining! 

Ed Wiles a budding screenwriter from London has written the winning piece for Shakespeare at the British Library.  “It was quite a challenge giving words to our greatest writer.

Nick Marston at Curtis Brown, leading writing agency says: We received an extraordinary high level of entries – we think the winning pieces show exceptional ability!

Other competition statues were ‘The Leaping Hare’ in London and ‘T-Rex’ in Manchester Museum. Existing Talking Statues around the UK, which include Eduardo Paolozzi’s Newton sculpture on the Library’s piazza, are now also joined by Achilles in Hyde Park, voiced by Dominic West, and Adrian Lester as a sulky youth in Canary Wharf’s Two Men on a Bench.

Actor Dominic West says: “I think it is a brilliant idea. You tend to walk past these statues without a second glance. It’s intriguing to imagine the life behind them.”

Since the project launched in August over 30,000 people have received calls from statues across London and Manchester. Talking Statues is the creation of Sing London, the non-profit arts organisation whose projects aim to lift the public’s spirit. Previous projects include filling London with street pianos and Ping!, the public ping pong project that has placed over 1000 ping pong tables across England.

Colette Hiller, Creative Director of Sing London says: “It’s marvellous how the project has caught the public’s attention right across the world. We feel privileged to have such a stellar line-up of writers and actors.”

For further information please contact:  Chris McCrudden at Midas PR chris.mccrudden@midaspr.co.uk

Notes to Editors

  • Statues can't just talk by themselves!  Talking Statues is made possible with financial support from our lead funder: The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts; Additional support comes from The John Ellerman Foundation, Audible.co.uk, Google Field Trip, Broadgate City of London and Canary Wharf Arts and Events.
  • The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is supported by Nesta, Arts & Humanities Research Council and public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England
  • The technology behind Talking Statues was developed by Antenna Lab – part of Antenna International, leading cultural technologists and creators of museum guides. Director Jessica Taylor says: “This is a new kind of museum guide – where the city is the museum. We hope to reach new audiences: people who love public art and people who didn’t know they did."
  • Further support comes from the BBC, British Library, Historic Royal Palaces, Manchester City Council, Manchester Museum, Royal Parks Foundation.
  • The sound recordings were produced by Audible.co.uk - leading suppliers of audio books.

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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.