Living Shakespeare is one of the many online projects powered by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust , who is leading the world in democratising Shakespeare in the digital age. Almost one million people per year pay tribute to William Shakespeare by visiting his Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon. Living Shakespeare is essentially a video-based project to capture the stories of some of these pilgrims, and ask them quite simply – why they made the voyage and what it means for them to be here. Every video is categorized by country in order to display the international impact of Shakespeare’s Birthplace, and also to allow for easy viewing on a country by country basis. Our goal is capture at least 1,000 visitor stories per year and share those stories freely with anyone who has access to the internet. Please feel free to browse some of these stories, and let us know what you think.
Also, if you ever do visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace, tap us on the shoulder, we’d love to meet you and interview you for the Living Shakespeare project.
I am the Operations Manager here at Shakespeare’s Birthplace managing the house guides and the Shakespeare Aloud actors. My first memories of Shakespeare are from my teens being encouraged by my parents to read and watch Shakespeare, despite my dyslexia whenever possible and learning monologues for my Lamda Acting exams. In my later studies in drama I have been fortunate enough to perform in some of Shakespeare’s plays Much a do about Nothing, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and at the Edinburgh Festival in Richard the III. Shakespeare has always been a part of my life and I hope you can see by watching these amazing video blogs the impact he continues to have on people from all around the world.
I was trying to remember when I first became aware of William Shakespeare and the weird thing is for as long as I can remember. On a shelf amongst the many Neville Shute novels my mum read was a battered complete works of Shakespeare with illustrations. As a small child I would occasionally be brought to Stratford, always a magical place and my mum would proudly show me where she stayed on her honeymoon now M&S, and tell me on her wedding night she had gone to see a performance of Macbeth!
Nights spent sleeping out, often in the autumn, to get standing tickets at the RST followed: Wars of the Roses, David Warner’s amazing Hamlet and so many more memorable performances I watched standing at the back of the old RST stalls. I also often hitch-hiked a hundred miles and back in a day to London to see amazing performances, Nicol Williamson’s Hamlet at the Round House and Olivier’s Othello certainly stand out.
Three years later at the end of my training I launched myself onto the professional stage as an actor and for 5 years managed to keep the wolf from the door, but no Shakespeare, just an awful lot of light comedies and Agatha Christie. I then decided, unable to face another murder/mystery to take my final bow from the stage and many jobs later as a management & leadership trainer turned again to William Shakespeare for inspiration, he had said most of what there is to say about leadership and team building.
And now I’m here working in the house where he spent so much of his childhood, sharing my passion with other visitors who have been touched by his genius. And finally, I know there’s no way he would have supported any of those stuck up London football clubs, he would have been a Birmingham City supporter and as for the Villa well, a plague on their house and all those London ones as well!
I am a Guide in Shakespeare’s Birthplace and responsible for supervising the other guides in the Birthplace, both members of staff and volunteers. My first experience of Shakespeare was at school as a teenager when we read ‘The Merchant of Venice’ and I was immediately hooked. I studied other Shakespearean plays whilst at school including ‘Macbeth’ and ‘King Lear’ and was one of the few people in school who loved Shakespeare. I was fortunate to study Renaissance history at the University of Warwick and hitch-hiked to nearby Stratford with my then boyfriend (now my long-suffering husband) to watch a performance of ‘As You Like It’ at the RSC for a pound – you stood at the back and if there were spare seats at the interval you could sit down! I love my job here at the Birthplace as it is an absolute privilege to meet people from all over the world on a daily basis with a passion for Shakespeare.