400 Years of Shakespeare

by Eilidh Roy

I‘ve spent the evening enjoying the Shakespeare Live at the RSC on the BBC celebrating 400 years since the death of the Bard and it really has been a great showcase of the works we’ve become so familiar with as they truly are engrained into our society and appreciation of English literature as a whole.  It was particularly nice to see contemporary dancing, rapping, the singing of sonnets and all sorts of other interpretations of Shakespeare’s words, highlighting how relevant and adaptable they still are today.

Photo: Eilidh Roy
Photo: Eilidh Roy

Of course, as an English student, a lot of my time has been spent reading and analysing, watching and reading out Shakespeare over the years- from The Merchant of Venice to Hamlet to Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I’m going to be predictable and say that Romeo and Juliet is still my favourite, however, as I just find their impulsiveness and naivety so likeable and their speech so beautiful.  I think my love for it definitely is only heightened by Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 adaptation of it starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, I’ve watched it countless times! The ability to stick to the original text but place it in a psychedelic, manic, Western-style film with knight and angel costumes to boot only emphasises the longevity of Shakespeare’s works.  Of course, this isn’t the only adaptation of a Shakespeare play to take risks, but it definitely is my favourite.

I’m always intrigued to hear what other people’s favourite Shakespeare plays or adaptations are, so feel free to share in the comments! I think the beauty of Shakespeare is that, at least here in the UK, he is so unavoidable.  Everyone I know had to study him at some point, whether they loved him or loathed him!, and so it’s easy to have a discussion about him.  I think the 400th anniversary celebrations going on throughout the country proved the force and impact of the Bard isn’t dying down anytime soon!

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