Shakespeare 400: The 2016 Bardathon Challenge – Info and Sign-up


2016 marks the year of William Shakespeare’s 400th death anniversary, and to commemorate, celebrate, and yayayayay-ate, I’ll be hosting a year-long “reading” challenge focused on his works (and re-works). I use “reading” very loosely here—although there are categories focused on reading his plays and poems, the challenge consists of other activities, such as watching adaptations, attending Shakespearean operas/concerts, or participating in your own production. At the end of the day/year/lifetime of awesomeness, it’s all about your experience of Shakespeare, and enjoying the wonderful worlds, characters, and words attributed to the Bard!

How to Participate

This challenge runs from 1 January – 31 December 2016. In order to join this particular Bardathon, please leave a comment to this post with the following information:

  • Your name/nickname/penname/bookname;
  • Your category/ies, plus the number you’re aiming for (see below)
  • Your main country of residence (optional—but this would be a fun way of seeing where all the wonderful participants live);
  • A link to your blog/Goodreads/etc if you have one—preferably a master post, where you’re keeping track of your Bardathon goals and progress (optional).

I will then update this participation post with your details. If you need to adjust your participation plans at any point, please either reply to your initial comment (in an embedded thread), or just leave a new comment and let me know what you wish to change. I’ll aim to update the lists every week or two.

If you have a blog, please link back to this page (and feel free to direct link the challenge banner); if you’re on social media and/or have other Shakespearean/interested friends, please help spread the word—the more Bardtastic fun, the better!


There are currently 14 main categories for participation, with a minimal number of works in order to participate—although this should be fun, it wouldn’t be a “challenge” without a bit of…well, a challenge! The categories are:

  • Complete Shakespearean: Read/watch/engage with all 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and 2 narrative poems (and other various poems if you wish)
  • Tragic Shakespearean: Read at least 5 tragedies (as organised in the First Folio)
  • Comedic Shakespearean: Read at least 5 comedies (as organised in the First Folio)
  • Historical Shakespearean: Read at least 5 history plays (as organised in the First Folio)
  • All-rounder Shakespearean: Read at least 3 plays from each of the tragedies, comedies, and histories (as organised in the First Folio)
  • Late Shakespearean: Read Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest
  • Poetic Shakespearean: Read the 154 sonnets, 2 narrative poems, and the various poems (including “A Lover’s Complaint” and “The Phoenix and the Turtle”)
  • Theatrical Shakespearean: Attend at least 5 plays (these can be live or recorded performances, e.g. a screening of RSC Live at your local cinema, or watching something from Globe on Screen on your computer)
  • Cinematic Shakespearean: Watch at least 5 screen adaptations
  • Non-Anglophone Shakespearean: Read/watch/engage with at least 5 Shakespeare adaptations in a language other than English (e.g. Kurosawa’s three Shakespearean films)
  • Performative Shakespearean: Participate in at least 2 Shakespeare adaptations as cast and/or crew
  • Musical Shakespearean: Engage with 5 Shakespeare-themed concerts (such as this one), operas, ballets, and musicals
  • Novelistic Shakespearean: Read at least 5 novels based on Shakespeare’s plays and/or life (there’s a list here and here)
  • Mix-and-match Shakespearean: Participate in any of the above categories (read/watch/listen/perform/play/etc) on at least 5 occasions

If you have any other ideas, please let me know—this is by no means a comprehensive list, and I’d love to see it evolve along with your contributions!

Monthly Giveaways

Each month, I’ll make a post where you can enter for a range of small prizes (so please follow or subscribe to my blog so as not to miss out!). These most likely will be in the form of Shakespeare-related postcards, sent from various places around the world—the specific prizes will be announced when the post goes up, but March and April will be, respectively, postcards from The Globe in London and New Orleans (where I’m attending a Shakespeare conference).

In order to qualify, all you need to do is participate in something Shakespearean for that month, and write about it. Don’t be put off by the “write” bit, because this could be something as simple as a link to a Tweet about watching a Shakespeare play! Of course, if you’ve just published a monograph on Shakespeare, you’re more than welcome to enter as well—again, it’s all about spreading the Shakespeare love!

End-of-Year Giveaway

In addition to December’s mini giveaway, there will be a draw at the end of the year for a bunch of Shakespearean goodies—this will be an assortment including copies of plays, film adaptations, books, souvenirs, and other shinies (some of these will be second-hand). Details on how to enter the final giveaway will be announced on 23 April 2016, the day of Shakespeare’s death.

Current Participants

The list is here—and let’s help it grow, because yay Shakespeare!

Major Updates

3 Jan: Added a “novelistic Shakespearean” category.

I suspect the categories and “rules” (soft and squishy as they are) will evolve as more awesome Shakespeare fans and enthusiasts get involved with this Bardathon, so please do follow this blog (I’ve created a challenge-related tag) or my Twitter to remain updated. As soon as I can over the next few days and weeks, I will provide some lists of and more specific information on cinematic, non-Anglophone, and musical Shakespeares to help you with those categories.

Helpful Information and Posts

Throughout the year, I will also continue with my A Spot of Shakespeare series, as well as posting about my own engagement with Shakespeare in 2016. If you decide to discuss the challenge on social media, please use the hashtag #BardathonChallenge (and possibly #Shakespeare400 as well if you’ve got the space)—let’s make this an amazing Year of Shakespeare!

And of course, if you have any questions, please ask away either in a comment below, or by contacting me elsewhere. Happy Barding!

43 thoughts on “Shakespeare 400: The 2016 Bardathon Challenge – Info and Sign-up

  1. I’m so glad I found this! I’m going to aim to be a Complete Shakespearean. I’ve been wanting to read through all of Shakespeare in a year for a long time. It will be much more fun to do it with you. Thank you for setting this up!

  2. (will be live at 12:00 pm Eastern US time today).

    I’ve seen or read most of the plays at one time or another, and even participated in a few back in the day. Looking forward to finally experiencing all Shakespeare has to offer with the “Complete Shakespeare”.

    Have you seen/heard of Ian Doescher’s Shakespearean adaption of the original Star Wars movie? It’s called Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope. He does a great iambic pentameter while staying true to the SW story. I also enjoyed “Twisted Tales from Shakespeare” many years ago. So, maybe I’ll amass a collection of ‘Pseudo-Shakespeare” experiences during the year.

    • Thanks for signing up–it’s great to have you with us! I guess there’s no time like 2016 to complete your Shakespearean “collection”! :D

      And yes, I’ve seen the Shakespearean Star Wars adaptation at bookshops and such, which I found very amusing since there’s a reciprocal sci-fi relationship there with The Klingon Hamlet–different fandom/franchise, I know, but sci-fi/Shakespeare crossovers make for some pretty impressive geekery. ;)

  3. I don’t normally trust myself to stick to this kind of challenge, but for Shakespeare I think I’ll give it a shot! I’ll be tracking my progress here:

    – Non-Anglophone Shakespearean: I will finally watch all three Kurosawa films (I have Throne of Blood on DVD and I’ve never gotten around to it). However, on top of that I will endeavour to watch at least one screen/stage adaptation from every continent (I may struggle with Antarctica).
    – Cinematic/Comedic Shakespearean: I’ll also watch at least five separate screen adaptations of Shakespeare’s comedies. I’ve never been a fan of reading the comedies, because so much of the humour is lost on the page. I’d always much prefer to watch them yet I don’t do it enough, so I’m going to do this too.

    (I’m in West Yorkshire, UK- I’ll be interested to see where everyone else is!)

    • It’s great to have you on board, Sarah, and I love what you’ve decided to take on! I’m thinking of making a few posts in the new few days/weeks with lists of non-Anglophone and cinematic adaptations.

      Also, your comment about the comedies is interesting because while a lot of the humour mightn’t work well on the page, I’d also argue that it’s difficult to work well on the screen, too. So I think I might put together a list of “recommendations” because the last thing I want is for a potential Shakespeare fan to be put off by Branagh’s Love’s Labour’s Lost and/or As You Like It, thinking they’d be hilarious and great for a night in…

    • It’s great to have you with us, Julianne, and yay for starting your journey to becoming a Mix-and-match Shakespearean!

      I’ll have a list of cinematic recommendations up by mid-week at the latest–I suspect I might have to do several batches, because there are just so many!

    • And I’m so happy you’re here with us, Cleo! I hope you’ll get a chance to reacquaint with familiar Shakespearean stories and characters, and perhaps even discover a few new delights!

    • Thanks for joining, o–it’s lovely to have you here! And of course, given the minimum requirement of 5 plays (I wanted to be consistent with the other First Folio genres), I’m curious as to which ones you’d pick, and if you’d go for a tetralogy at all. ;)

  4. I hope I’m successful with this challenge. I’m not a big Shakespeare fan but maybe that will change by the end of the year.
    I’m trying out for the Mix-and-match Shakespearean and am shooting for that low number 5. Notices of my progress will be posted here.

    • It’s so lovely to have you join us, Zezee, especially since you’re not a big Shakespeare fan at the moment–I’d love to see how you feel at the end of the year! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some recommendations in the areas of cinematic, non-Anglophone, and musical Shakespeares (and perhaps some others, too), so hopefully you’ll find something that resonates with you. :)

  5. What about the Authorship debate? I dont really like reading the plays themselves, although I have seen a number of movies. But I would love to be challenged to read books on the authorship debate. You dont have to have a view on who you think wrote the plays, but at least maybe read a few books on someone elses view? There are LOTS of books out on various different candidates for who may have been the real author of these plays. So maybe 5 books for this category as a minimum?

    • Thank you for your suggestion, Francesca, but this challenge is focused on Shakespeare’s works and the adaptations of those works. I know there’s a wealth of books and scholarship on aspects of his life, including those debates on authorship you’ve mentioned, but that goes beyond the scope of this challenge (which is already a bit of a monster as it is, with all those different categories!).

      Of course, you’re more than welcome to read those books as is, or host your own challenge (in which case I’d happily help spread the word and/or link to it here), and I wish you all the best if you choose to do so!

  6. I’m so glad you’re doing this! I have a bias against Shakespeare because I haven’t really given his work a chance (my views are based entirely on Romeo & Julie and Antony & Cleopatra), so I think my negative feelings are unjustified. I’ll do the Mix-and-match: I want to read 2 tragedies, 2 comedies, and watch a performance (hopefully live.) I’m in Massachusetts, USA.

    • Given your bias against Shakespeare, I’m really glad you’ve decided to sign-up, Linda! :D Hopefully over the next few months, your feelings about the Bard will change. ;) I’ve actually had a very complicated relationship with Romeo and Juliet: I loved it, then hated it, then was indifferent to it, then began to like it again, and now love-love-love it. Who knows which stage I’ll enter next!

      Good luck with the challenge, and I hope you’ll be able to catch that live performance! :D

    • Thanks for dropping by, Amanda, and it’s great to have you on board! Can’t wait to find out which plays you’ll read, and which medium/s you’ll choose for the one/s you watch!

    • Thanks for signing-up, Hannah! I’m quite indecisive myself, so I very much approve of your approach. ;) And of course, if you find yourself naturally gearing towards a particular category and/or gobbling up more Shakespeare than you’d originally intended, then just let me know and I’ll update your sign-up info.

      On an unrelated note: as a pianist myself, I love your URL! :D

  7. I’m so glad to find a Shakespeare challenge! (and love the name) I’m going to be cautious here and just officially join for the Mix-and-Match challenge, but I’ll probably try for Comedic Shakespeare, Tragic Shakespeare and Cinematic Shakespeare. Here’s the link to my Challenge post:

    I’m from the U.S., though I visit London whenever I can!

    • Thanks for signing-up, Cheryl, and for that lovely comment–I absolutely adore puns (much to the chagrin of practically everyone around me), and I’m glad you approve! :D I’ve put you down as doing the Mix-and-match, but if you ever decide to add more categories, just let me know and I’ll update the information.

      Oh yes, I love London, and try to pop over as often as possible! (I’m currently in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which, despite being part of the UK, is still a flight away from London.) Hope you manage to make a trip in the near future! :D

  8. I’m totes signing up for this Sammy! (And maybe this will helping me finally get back into book blogging again :D) In Sydney. ;) Will be doing the Mix-and-Match though I’ll be aiming for more than just 5 things.

    I’ll link my challenge post once it’s up.

  9. This is a great challenge, and I’m all in for the complete version of the fun-and-games. I’ve already posted my notice, including a link to your site. I’m really look forward to the readings and discussions. v/r Robert

    • Thanks for signing-up, Robert! I’ve added you to the list, but could you please reply here with your blog’s URL? The one intrinsically linked to your comment doesn’t appear to be working.

      Hope you’ll have a great year with the challenge!

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