Shakespeare400: a preview of the celebrations

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Image courtesy of tonynetone via Flickr

In conjunction with the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, theatres and institutions all around the nation and the world are involved in paying tribute to the “poet of love” in one way or another. Shakespeare400 is a national consortium encompassing the rich cultural, educational and creative organisation which is coordinated by Kings College London. Whether it’s by reading poetry in public spaces, like the Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, or presenting theatre and film, every institute has its very own way of paying tribute to this exceptional being.

A local tribute was presented by our very own the Dukes at Lancaster. Over the years, over 300 adaptations have been immortalised in silent films and the Dukes offered the opportunity to view a selection of iconic scenes extracted from the BFI National Archive, offering viewers a peek into the unseen footages of films that have recently been digitised, brought to life by the addition of background music from composers and musicians of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. One starred Sir John Gielgud, one of the trinity of actors who dominated the British stages in the 20th century, whose first appearance into the theatrical scene was in Romeo and Juliet in 1924. We took a twirl at various British monuments and you were able to see the stark difference in terms of the quality of workmanship over the years, and we definitely saw a varied range of clippings, ranging from black and white to pastel paint coloured movies, which provided with only imaginative assumptions as to how productions would have been made way back when.

Also, what would a tribute be without present productions being screened of the Royal Shakespeare Company productions in commemoration of the bard’s work. The Dukes are due to show live screenings of Cymbeline, King Lear and The Tempest. The screenings of the Dukes are very much in line with the consortium’s goal in celebrating the richness of the plays, and how the interpretation and execution of the various plays have changed over the years.

Whether you’re looking for a nostalgic blast to the past or you’re looking to discover Shakespeare, the screenings are suitable for every audience. Furthermore, every Wednesday hence The Dukes are screening filmed adaptations of Shakespeare, including Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing. It’s quite exuberating to learn that we possess the resources to Shakespearean drama right by our doorsteps.