As we unite globally today to celebrate World Shakespeare Day, many will be asking what relevance works, that were written over 400 years ago, can possibly have in our modern world. If you Google this subject there are endless reasons given, not least of all his influence on the English language, with quotes from his plays used regularly in everyday lexicon.
But I was struck by a quote from the Woodward Shakespeare Festival that I feel sums up his appeal beautifully:
"Shakespeare endures because he defines our need to explore the limits of our creativity, our need to understand our foibles, our follies, and our miraculous feats of extraordinarily simple life; in short, he defines our very humanity."
Shakespeare brings out the best of everyone involved. Those who perform him find themselves reaching above their perceived limitations. Those in attendance reach outside themselves to share the wonder they have experienced. Too many people are denied this profound linking of community either through economics or lack of opportunity.
Shakespeare belongs to everyone, no matter their race, their nationality, and their prejudices: We all bleed when we are pricked. That Shakespeare wrote in England, in English, and primarily about English characters signifies nothing: he wrote in the world and he wrote about humanity as a whole."
And finally, his plays lend themselves well to adaptation allowing for modern interpretations and twists on age old themes, emotions and power struggles. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our upcoming production of Julius Caesar from 2-27 May 2018 in Fort Canning Park where Shakespeare’s political thriller is brought to life against a backdrop of modern-day international relations and global current affairs.
This article is contributed by SRT’s Managing Director Charlotte Nors.