There are many legends about the greatest poet and playwright of England: some skeptics believe that the author of literary masterpieces was far from William Shakespeare. The manuscripts have not been preserved, there is no information about the poet’s education, his literacy is also in question – we won’t know for sure whether the author of “Hamlet”, “Romeo and Juliet” and other outstanding works was exactly Shakespeare. But one way or another, on April 23, 1616, the poet was gone. And this year marks exactly 400 years since his death. Locations of Shakespearean plays have been popular with tourists, most of them are in England and Italy. We have prepared a list of places that are somehow connected with one of the best poets of all time, as well as a selection of the most interesting events dedicated to the round date.
Performances in Warsaw
The operas based on Shakespeare’s plays are held at the Warsaw Bolshoi Theater (Teatr Wielki) from April 9 to April 28. The performances were made on a large scale: the best ballet troupe of the opera and ballet theater was involved. April 13 – 15, Romeo and Juliet will be shown here, April 19 – 20 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, April 21 – Hamlet, April 22 – 24 – The Tempest and April 27 – 28, the Shakespeare festival will end with a comedy “The Taming of the Shrew”.
Events in Chicago
In Chicago, the 400th anniversary of the death of the poet is rapidly celebrated. The performances will go until the end of December, so there is enough time for a visa. For example, from August 4 to 14, viewers will see the play “The Merchant of Venice” staged by the Globus Theater.
Until May 1, The Garage Theater will be staging Richard III. The performance is unusual in that the actor, who plays the main role, plays while sitting in a wheelchair. This should represent the hero-villain in a new, unusual perspective.
And at the end of the year, from December 14 to 21, in the Shakespeare Theater of Chicago, the play “Winter’s Tale” will take place. The production received a lot of praise from critics.
It was in this London theater that Shakespeare presented his work to the public. The first building of the Globe was built in 1599, and it belonged to the actors of the theater. In 1613, at the play “Henry VIII,” the building was almost completely destroyed by fire. The volley from the cannon conceived during the play was not a success: a misfire occurred, as a result, the thatched roof lit up. Actors and spectators survived, but the theater was seriously damaged. It was restored, but then the Puritans insisted on closing the theater. In 1644, the building was demolished.
The location of the Globe was found out only in 1989 by the foundations found in the parking lot. They decided to rebuild the theater. The new theater building is located two hundred meters from the old one, they tried to make it as similar to the original as possible – right down to the roof, which is also made of straw. Performances are still staged at the Globe, but only in the warm season – from May to October. Tours are carried out at any time of the year.
Shakespeare House Museum
The poet was born in the small town of Stratford-upon-Avon, whose population today is a little more than twenty thousand people. William Shakespeare’s parent’s house is located on Henley Street and, by modern standards, seems simple and unremarkable. But in the XVI century, he was considered very expensive and respectable. The father of the poet, John Shakespeare, was first a wealthy craftsman, then he took the post of alderman – the elder of the city, and later became the head of the city council. William inherited the house after the death of his father. The poet rented it, and the family house turned into a small hotel.
The layout of the house is standard for those times. On the ground floor, there is a living room with a fireplace, a workshop, and a large hall. On the second – three bedrooms. Later, an extension was added to the house. Many objects are not replicas, but genuine ones. The copies are made in antiquity and exactly repeat the design of that period. The museum workers approach authenticity with all severity: guides even wear sixteenth-century costumes so that tourists are inspired by the spirit of the times.
The balcony, on which the heroine of Shakespeare’s tragedy went out to meet her lover, did not exist in reality. However, resourceful people found in Verona a place ideally suited to the one described in the play. The prototype of the Capulet family was the family of Capello, who had a large house in Verona.
The building was restored with an eye on the attention of tourists and romance was added to the surroundings: there were frames around the windows, the design of the arch changed, and the same “Juliet’s balcony” appeared – initially there were no balconies on the facade of the house.
The bronze statue of the heroine was installed in 1972. Among the tourists, there is a belief that those who touch Juliet’s right chest will be lucky in love. Lonely tourists seemed to so desperately rub the chest of the statue that it literally cracked. The Verona authorities transferred the sculpture to the museum, and put a copy in the courtyard of the Capello house. When visiting this place, please note that for leaving notes and graffiti a fine of 500 euros is required.
The Tomb of Juliet
As in the case of the balcony, Juliet’s tomb does not exist due to the fact that Juliet herself is a figment of the imagination of Luigi da Porto, who first created the images of the lovers of Romeo and Juliet. Then Shakespeare picked up the idea and developed it into a full-fledged play. Discovered in a monastery near the house of Capello, the tomb has long been considered the burial place of Juliet.
It is not possible to determine who actually rested here – the sarcophagus is nameless. The tomb is empty, so a modern analysis of the remains is also impossible. But these facts have no effect on the popularity of the place among tourists: the tomb is regularly visited by fans of the writer’s work and leaves flowers for his unhappy heroine. Do not be surprised at the “seasoned” appearance of the tomb – it is not from age, but from the fact that earlier pieces of marble were broken off to be used for jewelry. Now, of course, this is strictly forbidden.
“House of Romeo”
The mansion was built in the 14th century. The building is made in the Gothic style, originally it belonged to the Nogarol family. Subsequently, the owners changed several times; in 1930, the literary society of Verona decided to set up a Shakespeare museum here, but plans were disrupted by World War II.
At some point, the mansion passed into private hands, and that is all the information about the House of Romeo ends. It is known that the city authorities offered the owners of the mansion to sell it and open the Shakespeare Museum, but the owners of the house did not make contact. Since the place is private, access to it is prohibited, and you can look at the Romeo House only from the outside.
The city of Elsinore, located in Denmark on the island of Zealand, was chosen by Shakespeare as the scene of the Hamlet tragedy. The castle is called Kronberg – which means “fist” in Danish. At one time the castle was used as a prison, and now there are guided tours.
The first show of Hamlet in Kronberg took place in 1816 in honor of the bicentenary of the death of the playwright. The tradition has taken root and now anyone can see here one of the most famous Shakespearean plays. Perhaps a more atmospheric and suitable place is not to be found.
Anna Hathaway House
The relationship between William Shakespeare and his wife Anna Hathaway is described differently: it is known that the poet at the time of marriage was only eighteen years old, and his chosen one was eight years older and was also expecting a baby. There are hypotheses that she “took into circulation” the young poet – William’s father was very wealthy, which promised a comfortable life. As it was in reality – it is unknown, but the couple lived together until the death of Shakespeare and raised three children.
Anna Hathaway’s house is located in the small village of Shotteri, which is now part of Stratford (an area in northeast London). It does not stand out against the background of other buildings; you need to know exactly where to go, so as not to spend a lot of time searching.
Shakespeare Folger Library
The collection of this small library dedicated to the work of Shakespeare contains the rarest editions of his works, including the 17th-19th centuries. It is located in Washington, and if you are a fan of the poet, you will not regret the time spent on the trip.
The library was founded in 1885 by a great admirer of the works of the British playwright – the president of the board of Standard Oil, Henry Folger. Thanks to this man, in one building he managed to collect unique Shakespeare editions, as well as thematic collections of coins, manuscripts, theater costumes and other things related to William Shakespeare and his era.