On April 23, NPR reports on “Worldwide Celebrations On The 400th Anniversary Of Shakespeare’s Death.” They state, “When it comes to Shakespeare’s legacy, it seems safe to conclude that ‘what’s past is prologue.’ ” Today is the 400-year celebration of the birth and death of Shakespeare. On April 23, the BBC presents Shakespeare Lives 2016 and the Live from Shakespeare’s Globe on London’s Bankside. Katie Derham presents the opening of the dynamic Complete Walk, on which all 37 Shakespeare plays are represented by new films created by Shakespeare’s Globe and shown on 37 big screens stretching from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge. This can be viewed live and through ongoing filmed videos available on the on the BBC Live page.
On April 23, the British Royal Ballet is celebrating as well with a live-streamed event about opera and ballet adaptations of Shakespeare’s work. Leading arts organizations across the UK are participating in the Shakespeare Lives, a dynamic, ongoing, six-month online festival available to audiences in the UK and across the globe provided by the BBC and the British Council that also includes a film tour. On the BBC Live pages viewers can feel like they are part of the action as they catch with events by viewing interactive updates from roving reporters with notable performers and with the everymen and everywomen participating in the ongoing festival.
Further, The Stratford Festival HD stage-to-screen series kicks off April 24 in the United States with the debut of “Hamlet,” followed by the rarely told “The Adventures of Pericles” beginning May 8th, and by “The Taming of the Shrew” beginning May 29th. This is the second year that the Stratford Festival has brought Shakespeare’s theater productions to the big screen. This year’s debut coincides with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s passing and celebrates his legacy. What is it about Shakespeare’s work that has produced this ongoing legacy and what can we learn from his work?
William Shakespeare wrote in unrhymed blank verse with the iambic pentameter rhythm that reflects the rhythm of the beating heart. He incorporated the best use of literary devices that appeal to the mind and ear. He wrote with great breadth and depth, as he dealt with great philosophical issues, universal themes, and complexities of his characters, who portrayed human emotion with intensity. All strata of society were represented in Shakespearean plays, as they related to and appealed to all classes of people. Shakespeare also brought to great heights of expressions some of the best of both the Renaissance and Reformation. His work has continued to set a high bar for dramatic artistic expression, especially in British dramatic writing and performance but also for all the world.
As great art was enjoyed during Shakespeare’s day as a result of both Renaissance artistry and Reformation ideas, today we can also celebrate and enjoy another Renaissance of artistry and Reformation of content that we see working together today in public expression in modern film. In the present darkness in our world we are experiencing the worst of times and the best of times. We can celebrate and enjoy some of the best today in what we have been seeing in ongoing modern films and movies in the developing Renaissance of artistry and Reformation of content that continue to bring great heights of artistic expression and great depth of thought, ideas, and ideals.
Stay tuned for exclusive interviews, much ado on substantive Shakespearean events as well as on in-depth insights about the work and influences of Shakespeare in contemporary presentations and films in days and months to come. Parting is “such sweet sorrow,” but we will have “tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.”