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Celebrations to mark Shakespeare's 400th anniversary

A bust of William Shakespeare which sits above the famous British playwright's grave at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.  - AP

A bust of William Shakespeare which sits above the famous British playwright's grave at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. - AP

23/04/2016 08:17

(Vatican Radio) On April 23rd 1616 the playwright William Shakespeare died on his birthday leaving behind him a wealth of works that are performed and recited 400 years on.

The celebrations are in full swing commemorating the life and talent of the man known as the Bard who wrote plays such as As you like it, Twelfth Night and the Tempest.

Recently in the Vatican London’s Globe Theatre performed the play Hamlet and there has even been a Shakespearean map of the London Underground unveiled to mark the anniversary.

But just what is it that makes William Shakespeare’s plays so popular? Lydia O’Kane put that question to Professor John Gillies of the University of Essex.

Listen to the full interview with Professor Gillies

“…Shakespeare has always had this popular cultural reputation, popular cultural impact simply through theatre.”

Professor Gillies was in Rome recently to participate in an international conference marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death

The event entitled Shakespeare 2016: The Memory of Rome, focused on the playwright’s Roman plays including Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and Titus Andronicus.

He was speaking on his topic on interest entitled, “Primal scene and brave new worlds in Shakespeare.”

According to Professor Gillies, Shakespeare has been enjoying a resurgence in the last 30 years which he believes has a lot to do with the “intense “mediatization” of the post-modern world”.

The place at the heart of the celebrations for Shakespeare 400 is the town where the playwright lived most of his life, Stratford-upon-Avon which is also home to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre company.

For the many fans and tourists who come to the town for the celebrations much attention will be focused on the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, a parish church on the banks of the River Avon.

Church records show he was buried there on April 25, 1616, two days after his death. Indeed, the inscription above his grave reads like a phrase from one of his plays:

``Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear, To dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.''

A true playwright to the very end.

23/04/2016 08:17