5 places to celebrate Shakespeare's legacy

Graihagh Jackson explores the biggest, boldest and weirdest ways the world remembers William Shakespeare

4 mins

1. The World Shakespeare Festival

The UK's celebration is one of the largest and longest festivals in the world that commemorates the eternal achievements of the world-renowned playwright. Thousands of artists stage over 70 productions throughout England, Scotland and Wales. For six months, expect to see pop-up productions, exhibitions and events showcasing the best of British talent somewhere near you.

Tomorrow, on 23 April, the festival will launch. The opening day is set to feature an interesting and somewhat peculiar array of events, including a Maori version of Troilus and Cressida in London's Shakespeare's globe. A world-first exhibition called Living Walls opened to the public yesterday, presenting Shakespeare's texts inscribed on the panelling of Stratford-upon-Avon's Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

2. Verona’s 'Club di Giulietta'

Every year, thousands of letters pour into Romeo and Juliet's setting of Verona. People from around the world declare their woes and eternal love for Shakespeare's most romantic heroine. Surprisingly, each and every one of these letters is answered by voluntary organisation 'Club di Giulietta' (Juliet Club). On St Valentine's Day, the most beautifully written and compelling love letter is awarded the 'Dear Juliet' prize.

Pick up a quill and declare your undying love the old fashioned way: write to Club di Giulietta, Galilei 3-37100 Verona, Italy.

3. Mexico's Baja Shakespeare Festival

With the festival in its 12th year, you might have assumed the Marin Shakespeare Company would produce the aptly named Shakespeare classic that is The Twelfth Night. However, the company have moved away from the numerical theme, rolling out several other productions throughout July, August and September.

This year, join four young Athenian lovers in A Midsummer Night's Dream and look forward to the romanticised story of King John, both of which have been adorned with an exotic, yet authentic Baja twist.

4. America's Shakespeare Behind Bars

You can find Shakespeare's influence in the most unusual places and this is definitely one of them. Kentucky's Luther Luckett Correctional Complex is home to over 1,000 inmates, who collectively form a theatre production company called Shakespeare Behind Bars.

For 16 years, inmates have been performing show after show to a public audience, with the most recent plays including Macbeth, The Tempest Tour and The Winter's Tale. This June, the ensemble will be showcasing the beloved playwright's Romeo and Juliet. If you want to make the journey, tickets go on sale in May.

5. Grenada's Shakespeare Mas

The tiny island of Carriacou hosts nothing other than a battle of words, more commonly known on the island as Shakespeare Mas. Male villagers don brightly-patterned clothes, exotic fabric head dresses and verbally 'fight' each other in the medium of words, reciting meticulously learned verses from Shakespeare's play, Julia Caesar.

This tradition of 'combat'  dates back over a 100 years, when a plantation owner decided it would be beneficial for slaves to learn an Elizabethan pentameter or two.

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