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"The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were a time of tumult and great social upheaval, both in England and in Europe as a whole. Some fifty years before Shakespeare’s birth, the Reformation had swept through the continent, challenging longstanding religious practices and institutions, and resulting in the establishment of a number of alternatives to the Catholic Church of Rome, including Lutheranism and Calvinism ... "
" ... There are no records of William’s education, but he probably went to King’s New School – a reputable Stratford grammar school where he would have learned Latin, Greek, theology and rhetoric – and may have had a Catholic upbringing ... "
"Shakespeare is England’s most celebrated dramatist and poet. His works have been translated into 80 languages, including Star Trek’s Klingon. He helped shape the English we use today, introducing up to 300 words and dozens of well-known phrases ... "
"Very little is known for certain about William Shakespeare. What we do know about his life comes from registrar records, court records, wills, marriage certificates and his tombstone in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon ... "
Why Shakespeare? Because it's 2016
In this the 400th year since William Shakespeare’s death, there is still reluctance among many secondary school students to accept Shakespeare as an author who speaks to them and their dilemmas. In part this derives from the misguided notion that Shakespeare’s language is historically remote, too difficult, even inaccessible. Thus the rich market of Shakespeare translations from his English to contemporary English, with No Fear Shakespeare leading the way. But Shakespeare is not difficult if we understand his work as he intended it, as theatre not narrative. If we listen to Shakespeare rather than reading him, if we attend to the human scenarios he presents rather the hunting for meaning, theses, and essay topics, if we recognize the everydayness rather than pursuing the remote, then Shakespeare is as contemporary in 2016 as he was in 1616.
"We've all had a pretty ill time this past 12 months or so, thanks to COVID and various lockdowns. It's been a time of great anxiety and uncertainty but we can find reassurance in great works of art, works that demonstrate our capacity for wonderment, celebration and understanding of the human condition, works that defy time and speak to us from the heart. I've walked side-by-side with William Shakespeare for more than 60 years and his work has come to mean, for me, a sort of secular Bible, a book to live by. He has taught me lessons in empathy, ambition, forgiveness, leadership, the power of language and a deeper understanding of myself ... "