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Stars read complete Shakespeare sonnets to launch Southbank Centre Festival of Love

The event on 1 June features ten leading actors including Simon Russell Beale, David Harewood and Juliet Stevenson

Simon Russell Beale in King Lear at the National
© Mark Douet

Ten leading actors including Simon Russell Beale, Juliet Stevenson, David Harewood and Harriet Walter will take part in a complete reading of Shakespeare's 154 Sonnets at the Southbank Centre this summer.

The event, which marks the 450th anniversary year of Shakespeare's birth, will take place in the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 1 June as part of an introductory weekend to Southbank Centre's summer-long Festival of Love (28 June-31 August).

Also taking part in the readings are Maureen Beattie, Deborah Findlay, Oliver Ford Davies, Victoria Hamilton, Guy Paul and one more actor to be confirmed.

The same weekend, the Queen Elizabeth Hall will host two performances of a dramatised reading of Plato's Symposium, starring Adjoa Andoh, Chipo Chung, Ray Fearon, Tunji Kasim, Michael Maloney (as Socrates), Michael Nardone, Steve Toussaint and Daniel Weyman.

The new adaptation, by Southbank Centre's head of literature James Runcie, aims to examine "whether love really is the meaning of life."

The Festival of Love also features a range of talks, screenings, workshops and participatory events, inspired by the seven Greek definitions of love.

There will also be a 'mass readathon' of all the sonnets on 1 June by members of the public. For more information about how to get involved visit southbankcentre.co.uk/love