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!