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Barack Obama praises ‘wonderful’ actors after Hamlet performance

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President Barack Obama is visiting Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London on Saturday, and the Royal Shakespeare Company is mounting a stage extravaganza with performances by Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellen – and even Prince Charles.

Kolkata: Marking the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare on Saturday, a six-month online festival on the Bard of Avon will be presented by performers from United Kingdom and will be available all over the globe including India.

The “sweet swan of Avon”, a playwright who once set a scene on the “coast of Bohemia” and had his Egyptian queen bawdily inviting a eunuch to play billiards in Antony and Cleopatra, would probably have been quite diverted by the RSC’s birthday tribute, hosted by Catherine Tate and David Tennant, formerly Hamlet and Doctor Who, and now Richard II.

He stood in the open-air theatre and watched intently as the actors performed a medley of different scenes from the tragedy, including the famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy.

“Let me shake hands with everyone”.

There were, of course, plenty of references to all the world being a stage, but at the close Helen Mirren’s “Our revels now are ended” rounded off a made-for-TV event with appropriate thespian solemnity.

“I think in this country we forget so numerous words we use, so numerous expressions and things we talk about have come from Shakespeare, like “all that glistens isn’t gold” or “neither a borrower or a lender be”, so some of the things you just say all the time come from Shakespeare“.

“The spirit of “Yes we can” has informed the entire tour and it’s an honor to meet the man who coined the phrase, and who exemplifies its spirit”, Dromgoole said.

Backstage after the performance, Charles spoke to stars including Helen Mirren, Dame Judi and David Suchet.

Focal points for the celebrations include Shakespeare’s family home in Stratford, where it is assumed he was born in 1564, and the Holy Trinity Church, where he was buried.

Band leader Andrew LeDuff, said the group, including members of New Orleans’ Tulane University, had jumped at the chance to mark Shakespeare’s global impact and “celebrate his life”.

The visit to the theatre comes amidst weekend-long celebrations at the Globe of this anniversary.

William Shakespeare died on April 23 1616, at the age of 52.

Thomas Cummings

The author Thomas Cummings

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