Shakespeare’s Starling has won the Arts and Culture category award in the 2020 AIB Awards.
The judges felt this was the clear winner – remarking it was “exactly what radio should be: surprising and impactful”.
Eugene Schieffelin – Bronx resident, drug manufacturer and theatre aficionado – was a member of the American Acclimatization Society which aimed to introduce European species into the US. In 1890/1, Schieffelin released 100 starlings in New York’s Central Park. Today, 130 years later, there are 200 million starlings in North America – and they are causing devastation to indigenous habitats and farmers’ crops. In 1962, a flock got caught in a plane’s engine, bringing it down and killing 62 people, and every year almost $1 billion of crop damage is done by this invasive species. In Shakespeare’s Starling Zoë Comyns explores the legacy of Schieffelin’s illfated deed and the serious and yet at times humorous attempts to eradicate the bird over the past one hundred years. It also explores how Shakespeare has become subsumed into American culture, in part due to acts such as the release of the starlings. The programme features a number of experts, including Pip, the talking starling.