This year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death (1616), and the public can celebrate the famous bard through several Shakespeare-themed events (such as plays, walks, concerts, and discussions) throughout the country. April 23 marks the death date, and we were always told in school that Shakespeare died on his birthday, but I now see that his birthdate is unknown and his baptism date was April 26. One of the special events to celebrate Shakespeare400 is the 'Shakespeare woz ere' Shakespeare Son et Lumiere event. This free event is only taking place on two nights - March 4th and March 5th. Saturday night is the last chance to see it.
After work, I popped over to the Guildhall in the City of London to see Shakespeare Son et Lumiere. The lightshow is projected onto the Guildhall building. The first show was at 6:45, and they lasted twenty minutes each with a new show starting a few minutes later.
The lightshow commemorates some of the best moments in Shakespeare's works. I've only read a few of his works and watched the plays of a couple of others, so I could not make out which work the lines represented. The spoken word was performed with music and moving imagery projected onto the front of the Guildhall, and people of all ages were watching. It had attracted a fairly large crowd.
When watching the performance, I realised how influential Shakespeare's works were and how his use of story-telling is used today. Can this be credited to Shakespeare, or were there other playwrights doing this at the same time or even before? Metaphors, descriptive and flowing language, comic relief, and plot twists were used frequently and are still used today. For example, it's quite normal for a little bit of comedy in between serious scenes.
After the twenty minutes of lightshow projections, we were free to enter the Guildhall Art Gallery and Heritage Centre in the Guildhall Yard complex. The galleries are not too large, so we quickly browsed through some artworks on display and went to the Roman ampitheatre located underneath the existing building.
Shakespeare bust at Guildhall
We also went to see Shakespeare's signature on a mortgage deed, which may be considered the most collectible signature in the world and is priceless (1). The signature was very hard to read. An image of it can be seen on the link at the bottom of this article.
Also on display is Visscher's original and detailed engraving of London, which was made in 1616. This view of London is rare as it depicts the city that was lost just before the Great Fire of 1666 and the old London Bridge with the buildings on it. (Readers may have seen my post about the model of London Bridge, which can be seen at St. Magnus near Monument tube station, and the it is worth a visit.)
In addition to this image of London, a modern image of London with the same view has been created this year by Robin Reynolds. The modern image has references to Shakespeare's works.
If you are up for something free to do tomorrow evening, then give this a go. The Guildhall Galleries and Centre is open until 9:00pm, so that is ample time to see the light show and explore. The Guildhall is located in the City of London, and it is located between St. Paul's and Bank stations.
1) Rare William Shakespeare signature to go on display in London. http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/402353/Rare-William-Shakespeare-signature-to-go-on-display-in-London [24 May 2013].