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This year marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare, whom Ben Jonson so aptly eulogized as a man as “not of an age, but for all time.” Possibly the most-read author in history, the curtains rise daily on productions of his plays in scores of languages across the globe. In addition to his lasting impact on the stage and screen, Shakespeare helped create the English language we use today—scholars have identified more than 2000 words attributed to the Bard that are still in common use.
And he’s still going strong. Celebrate the “infinite variety” (Antony and Cleopatra) of Shakespeare’s works with Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger, a Tudor and Renaissance scholar and education specialist at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Take a look at the “revels, dances, masks, and merry hours” (Love’s Labor’s Lost) found in the comedies, the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (Hamlet) that haunt the tragedies, and the “sad stories of the death of kings” (Richard II) that make up the histories. Through images and film clips, view a variety of interpretations of the plays that continue to shape our culture. Consider the influence of Shakespeare evident all around us—in quotations engraved on buildings, in television and movies, and in theaters around the world. And take the opportunity to experience the power of Shakespeare’s language by joining in to recite some of his most famous speeches. So heed the invitation: “Come, temperate nymphs, and help to celebrate” (The Tempest).
“How’s your kickie-wickie?” is a question you never hear asked. That’s because not all of the words Shakespeare introduced in his plays caught on in everyday speech. Stephen Fry brings a few of these lingustic also-rans into the spotlight.
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