Sixty-Six Books

10th - 29th October 2011
Bush Theatre, London, W12 8QD

In 1604, King James I of England authorised a new translation of the Bible into English. It was completed in 1611. Its flowing language and prose rhythm have had a profound influence on our culture and literature ever since. Together with Shakespeare’s First Folio the King James Bible, or KJB, is a cornerstone of the language we use today. 

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of its publication, the Bush Theatre has come together with the Southbank Centre, the National Theatre, the King James Bible Trust and Sound and Music to commission and produce an epic contemporary response to the KJB. Inspired by the fact that the KJB was written to be spoken and was created by synthesising texts in different original languages, Sixty-Six Books sets out to curate the widest range of different voices – from all religions and none – in a spectacular performance event.

A cycle of 66 new works have been commissioned – plays, poems, stories and songs – each of which provide a contemporary response to the themes, stories and ideas in one of the 66 books of the Bible. Together they represent an unprecedented commissioning cycle in terms of the scale, range and quality of the writers involved.  They include: Archbishop Rowan Williams, Neil Labute, Wole Soyinka, Jackie Kay, David Edgar, Kwame Kwei Armah, Andrew Motion, Michael Rosen, Carol Ann Duffy and Billy Bragg.

Sixty-Six Books will be the inaugural show to open the Bush Theatre’s new home at the old Shepherd’s Bush Library in October 2011. The event will kick off with a 24-hour event in the Library during which all sixty-six responses will be performed. It will then continue with shorter performances at the Library for a further 2 weeks, culminating in a final 24-hour event. All three floors of the library building will be transformed into an immersive theatrical environment. In collaboration with the Bush Theatre, Sound and Music has commissioned sound artist Iain Armstrong to create versions of a selected number of the commissioned texts for presentation through a series of modified phone boxes near to the Bush Theatre.

Tickets and Schedule

to see the full schedule for this event and to book tickets please visit the Bush Theatre Website.

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