Thursday, 12 May 2016

Where the legend comes alive.....Shakespeare at Statford

(I remember writing this a couple of years ago, when I first went to the place. This post was lying around in the drafts and although it seems a bit dated now, but the experience of going to visit a playwright that I am in awe of, holds pleasant memories for me. )

Shakespeare, for me, is the ultimate writer. His lines and sonnets resonate long after reading them, not because they are oft quoted (To be or not to be...) or (All the world's a stage) but because of what it contains in a few words. I could go on and on but that is not what this post is about.

It is about how this literary god came alive when we went to visit the writer at his well kept birthplace. The trust that looks after the writer's houses, has a well organised tour for those interested in the "Bard"such as the house where he was born, the land where he built a mansion upon his return from London as a star (New Place and Nash's house), the land he gave his daughter and son-in-law John Hall to build a house (Hall's Croft), his wife Anna Hathaway's cottage and his mum, Mary Arden's Farm and his grave.

Although I couldn't visit them all, leaving Anne Hathaway and Mary Arden for another day, it was totally fascinating to say the least. The English know how to market their legendary figures.

The tour provided an interesting introduction to the persona of Shakespeare in a nutshell for the uninitiated.

The Bard at work

It offered an insight into his modest upbringing, starting with his father's ambitions to rise above his station as a  glove maker and secure his fortune through marriage to a gullible heiress.

His humble beginnings as a glove maker's son

Although it did not focus much on Shakespeare, the person it was more about their humble trade and modest lifestyle. Later the story goes on to enlighten us how Shakespeare went on to become a successful playwright, made lots of money in London and then returned to his hometown as a rich man.

Actors reciting famous Shakespeare lines

The places give a very different perspective contrary to what we know of Shakespeare. For here, the emphasis is on Shakespeare the businessman and not the playwright as he is more popularly known. It is his dark side that gains prominence here and makes for an appealing story.

The tour was rounded off with some well known pieces from his prominent plays by some very talented actors. A terrific summing up of an enlightening tour.

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