An "unprecedented gathering" of global performers and artists is to be revealed later today as part of the World Shakespeare Festival. Next year's festival, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, is part of the Cultural Olympiad, a series of artistic events for the 2012 Olympics. Festival director Deborah Shaw has said it will explore "tectonic shifts in society" through the bard's plays. Performances will take place both in London and across the UK. The festival, which is also part of the Cultural Olympiad's London 2012 Festival, will run from 23 April to 9 September and celebrates Shakespeare as the "world's playwright". Shaw, a celebrated theatre director and associate director of the RSC, talked to artists, producers and companies in the UK and across the world when she put the programme together. She said she found that artists from the Middle East and north Africa chose "plays about the downfall of despots and the rise of new ideas", while central and south American artists chose history plays exploring "political legitimacy and corruption". The director has called the event an "epic endeavour", adding that it fuses "theatre, circus, music, dance and multimedia". The RSC has collaborated in the UK with venues including the Globe, the Almeida Theatre, the Barbican, the British Museum, National Theatre, National Theatre Wales, the Roundhouse and Sage Gateshead. Some of the productions will also be online. The Globe, on the banks of the London's River Thames, has already announced that it will present all of Shakespeare's plays, staging one production itself with the remaining 36 plays each performed in a different language by a different company from around the world. The aim will be to celebrate "the vast array of ethnic communities and languages that make up London's vibrant multi-cultural landscape".