A day of national events was held last Saturday the 23rd to mark 400 years since the death of the world famous playwright. These included President Obama visiting Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London, and a Live show in the Bard’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon included play scene performances, dance and music. This was put together by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), presented by Catherine Tate and David Tennant and featured performances by Judi Dench, Ian Mckellan, Al Murray among others, and even Prince Charles getting a line. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this show on BBC2, and you can watch highlights on this BBC article:
Prince Charles appeared quite unexpectedly on stage and recited the line in a sketch based on Hamlet’s To Be or Not to Be soliloquy, and took centre stage for the famous line. I also enjoyed Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar playing out the My Lady Disdain scene from Much Ado About Nothing.
I feel Shakespeare is still relevant today because of phrases we use are from his work like “in a pickle”, “budge an inch” and “laughed yourself into stitches”. These examples and more phrases are revealed by Rob Brydon in this video:
Sir Ian Mckellan also adds on his relevance that he “single handedly invented modern drama in English” and the plays go on being relevant “because Shakespeare knew so much about human nature”. I feel the plays have the power to draw you in from the start with themes that have never change, as we all feel love, hurt, sadness, anger and laughter, with the range of emotions throughout his words. I remember learning about the plays Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, and Othello at school, and take my interest and enjoyment in his plays on from there.
Another programme that I felt offered a great insight recently in to the life and works of Shakespeare was the Richard Dimbleby lecture. This was shown on BBC1 back in March and delivered by Gregory Doran, the Artistic Director of the RSC from the Shard in London. Gregory reflected on the impact, resonance and relevance of the plays and Shakespeare today across the world. He described his own experiences and how he came to be the position he is in today. He asked the question “Is Shakespeare Chinese?” as any the plays, wherever they are performed, and in any language still enlighten and draw the audience in to the world he created.
I could ask will Shakespeare still be relevant in 2416? I’m sure the plays will be still be being performed, discussed and adapted in 400 years to the times and still be relevant. Also as Star Trek has used quotes in it’s episodes set in the 23rd and 24th centuries, even in Klingon, so the works of the Bard will still be relevant for a long time to come.