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Culture Express > News Video

Britain remembers William Shakespeare

Reporter: Ma Shuo 丨 CCTV.com

04-29-2014 00:26 BJT

To be or not to be, is one of Shakespeare's most famous quotes. During the week of his 450th birthday, CCTV reporter visits the bard's hometown of Stratford Upon Avon, and attends the launch of an ambitious global tour by Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company.

Britain remembers William Shakespeare

Britain remembers William Shakespeare

"This is an exact replica of the theatre Shakespeare would have been performing in over 400 years ago. There is therefore no better location from which to launch the global tour," said reporter Ma Shuo.

For many actors, playing a Shakespearean character is the highlight of their career. What better then, to be an actor touring 200 countries with a slimmed down version of Hamlet? The producer has put together an ambitious schedule that will take the crew around the world and back within a 2 year period.

"We have created a touring aesthetic that we think is how the theatre companies used to tour in the abroad in the 16 and 17 centuries, the companies that SP would have worked in. It's a very lightfoot model, only 12 actors, it's cut down to around 2 hours and 40 minutes, uncut hamlet is about 4 hours, all the actors play musical instruments themselves, and the company carries around the whole show themselves," said Tom Bird, Exe. Producer of the Global Theatre.

Britain remembers William Shakespeare

Britain remembers William Shakespeare

Britain remembers William Shakespeare

Britain remembers William Shakespeare

For the actors, Shakespeare's demanding language makes full use of their skills, yet the plays still remain accessible. Many of the venues for the global tour have already sold out. So why exactly are people still coming to see Hamlet after all these years?

"I think because Hamlet has in it themes and ideas and issues in it that are relatable to anywhere in the world, and to people anywhere in the world. I think that it carries so much humanity, in Hamlet," said Naeem Hayat, actor of "Hamlet".

Of course, it's not just actors who love Shakespeare. The British public have just voted the Bard as the country's biggest claim to fame. That must be why over 800 thousand visitors every year come to Stratford Upon Avon to see his place of birth.

"We have some 800 thousand visitors a year, thoroughly half of them are international visitors who go all the way to see Shakespeare's birthplace, legacy to the world is amazing," said Nic Fulcher, creative director of Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust.

It was at this spot that Shakespeare was born, where he was brought up, and where he fathered three children with his wife. Although he didn't become famous until he moved to London, where he worked first as an actor and then a writer, in his later years he returned to Stratford Upon Avon, and it was in this town that he died in 1616. The town remains indelibly etched with his memory, including the place where he studied.

As the brightest pupil in the class, according to legend, Shakespeare used to sit in this very spot. Here, he could be close at hand to help the teacher.

Britain remembers William Shakespeare

Britain remembers William Shakespeare

Britain remembers William Shakespeare

Britain remembers William Shakespeare

In this classroom, Shakespeare studied Latin, Greek and Rhetoric with 40 other students attending the school. He was lucky to be able to study at all, as the fees at the grammar school were expensive and few children received an education at the time. It was his father's position as Mayor of the town that allowed his sons to attend the school for free. These days, there are many more students at the school, treading in Shakespeare's footsteps.

"It's an honour, there's nothing else to be said for the fact, it's really an honour, the fact that we get to sit in the same room as sp, it feeds your ideas, when you come in here, the first day of year 7, you are struck in awe by the surrounding, and the fact that that was one of the greatest writers in English history studied at the same school," said Matthew Newman, student at King Edward VI school.

Be it his plays, artworks in his image, or the young people he continues to inspire to this day, 450 years on Shakespeare is still living in the minds and hearts of people not just in the UK, but around the globe. Will he still be such an omnipresent figure in another 450 years? Only time will tell.

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