Saturday, 9 April 2016


Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

Next to God, a wise man once said, Shakespeare created most.  In the plays, the sonnets and the poems that are his chief legacy to the world – and surely no-one ever left a richer! – human nature is displayed in all its astonishing variety.

He was born on April 23rd 1564, to John and Mary Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon. Very little information is available about life of William Shakespeare, especially before he emerged as a playwright. An iconic thinker, poet, playwright and storyteller, William Shakespeare continues to be the leading light even 400 years after his death. The beauty of his works is that they can be adapted to any language or art form. In most of the English-speaking world, if you talk about “The Bard” you mean William Shakespeare.
His works have been translated into 80 languages. He helped shape the English we use today, introducing up to 300 words and dozens of well-known phrases.

He has enriched the stage with his 37 plays: 17 comedies, and 10 histories and tragedies each. His range is enormous: kings and queens, priests, princes and merchants, soldiers, clowns and drunkards, murderers, pimps, fairies, monsters and pale, avenging ghosts ‘strut and fret their hour on the stage’.
For the LIBRARY PROJECT “ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE”: A Project based on Shakespearean Plays(Celebrating the Shakespearean quatercentenary), we have chosen ten plays. The suggested readings in context of the Library Project activities are:

  1.           The Comedy of Errors
  2.           The Merchant of Venice
  3.           Much Ado About Nothing
  4.                As You Like It
  5.             Julius Caesar
  6.             Hamlet
  7.             All's Well that Ends Well
  8.             King Lear
  9.            Macbeth
  10.           The Tempest
Props used in Shakespearean plays: Skulls and bones, bottles, crowns, swords and daggers, armour, flags and banners etc.
Common elements in the Plays:
Power and ambition: Macbeth, Julius Caesar
Disguise: The Merchant of Venice
Ghosts: Hamlet, Macbeth
Revenge: Hamlet, the Merchant of Venice
Costumes: The actor’s clothes reflected their characters’ social status. An actor wearing velvet, silk or lace would be identified with the upper class. Less wealthy characters wore cheaper fabric like wool. In Shakespeare’s time, the women characters were played by men and boys. Most men wore hats.

Shakespeare’s works are a must-read for all, not just to understand language, but to be able to see human nature in that complex and nuanced way, to broaden our sympathies, especially in the age when we have become so intolerant, where there is lack of understanding of people. Especially in times like these, the importance of Shakespeare is greatly enhanced. An exposure to even a few of his plays would communicate this effectively. His plays are known around the world for their universal themes and insight into the human condition. 

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