Friday, April 23, 2004

World Takes to Stage for Shakespeare's Birthday

London's Globe Theater on Friday invited all the world on stage to celebrate William Shakespeare's birthday.

"I'm sure he is here in spirit," said Mark Rylance, artistic director of the thatch-roofed Globe, an exquisite copy of the open-air playhouse where the bard's plays were first performed.

"I am sure he is delighting in it. He would be quite frankly astounded that people still love his work 400 years later." Rylance told Reuters as Londoners queued up to declaim their favorite lines on the Globe's Elizabethan stage.

Even London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who launched the open day at one of the capital's most successful tourist attractions, tried his hand at playing Hamlet.

Britons are often put off after being force-fed a diet of Shakespearean tragedies at school and Rylance said: "We are very keen here to try and help teachers and young people see Shakespeare on the stage rather than on the page.

"Unfortunately most kids meet Shakespeare around the exam period of the year so they are already tense and it leaves them with a memory of him as a fierce exam question

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