To commemorate 400 years of Shakespeare’s brilliance, the Globe Theatre set up a 2.5-mile walk along the south bank of the Thames the weekend of April 23-24, 2016, showing one 10-minute film for each of his 37 plays. The films combined new scenes shot just for this walk (set in places the plays were set like Hamlet in Denmark and Antony and Cleopatra in Egypt), scenes from silent movie adaptations (on loan from the British Film Institute), and scenes from Globe productions over the years.
I had a wonderful time walking the route over the course of two days, sometimes with friends and sometimes on my own. I mistimed my Sunday and got caught up in the mass of humanity that was cheering on the London Marathon across the river, so I just squeezed in all the plays that day and finished 15 minutes before the event ended and the screens went dark.
I certainly don’t know every play, and in fact upon talking it over with my friend Liz (who knows just about every single one and has seen most of them performed too), I realized that I know the tragedies and many of the comedies, but I only know the outlines of his histories and some of the problem plays. I suppose that just gives me more to explore.
I liked that the Globe filmed scenes where Shakespeare originally set them; I think this was particularly effective with Othello & Iago alone in a Cypriot fort, where Iago could pour his poison in Othello’s ear under the hot sun; Coriolanus driving around the streets of Rome at night, Taxi Driver-style; Juliet ending it all in the tomb named for her in Verona; Richard II handing over his crown in the austere Westminster Hall; Cordelia trying to bring Lear back from madness at the white cliffs of Dover; and Falstaff carousing and philosophizing in The George pub.
Here’s a sample of what I saw, in the order of the route as laid out by the Globe (you can see the route I followed here and the list of credits & play summaries here). I didn’t always get the famous lines on video, and my camera ran out of storage space before I could get video of each film so there are still photos for those plays. The only scene out of order is Hamlet–there’s a photo of that film in order, but the video is at the very end of my movie, because I think the brief lines there offer a nice coda. Enjoy!