This weekend marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death in 1616. To honor the famous bard, a series of special events are taking place to commemorate him. Earlier this year, I already visited the lumiere dedicated to Shakespeare on the Guildhall. This weekend (today, April 24) marks the actual date of the bard's passing, so a special walk with screens showing his plays were placed up for these two days only.
The walk features 37 screens with 10-minute films along the south bank from Westminster Bridge to Tower Bridge. The films include location-shot footage as well as footage from theatres, notably the Globe Theatre, who is one of the sponsors of 'The Complete Walk'. Also included on some of the films is silent film from BFI's archives. The location-shot footage helps to draw the scenes of the part of the plays how Shakespeare would have envisioned them.
The day started at 9:20 when I got off at Westminster tube station and walked across the bridge, enjoying the views of Big Ben. The London marathon was also set up so that the road was blocked at Westminster. I was happy to see the sun out because I expected a lot of rain, but the weather was chilly. I bought a hot chocolate nearby and went to St. Thomas' Hospital where the first two screens were located and waited for the volume to be turned up at 10:00 so that we could listen.
"The Two Gentlemen of Verona" - Filmed in Verona, this is a romantic play about a love triangle. (The sound of this one was very faint and I struggled to hear it particularly when two ladies sat next to me and decided to mutter the way through half of the film.)
'Henry VI, Part 3' - This was filmed at Townton Battlefield in England (and some interior shots of a church) and is the battle where the English had the most casulaties of their life on their own soil.
'Taming of the Shrew' - This is a comedy that was partially shot in Italy but had a lot of scenes in the theatre. It is about a rough older sister who has no suitors; she must get married before her popular sister is allowed to marry. Comedy is the key element here.
'Henry VI, Part 1' - Filmed in France, this play features war and Joan of Arc fighting with her inner demons.
'Titus Andronicus' - Peter Capaldi is the star of this film shot in location in the ruins of ancient Rome. Some children said "Doctor Who" upon seeing him. Unfortunately, the placement of this screen was not ideal as the sound could not be heard over the trains passing overhead.
'Henry VI, Part 2' - This is a modern take on this part of the play; it is filmed in Spitalfields Market with cockney accents and received quite a few laughs. It was at this point in my walk that more people were out and the screens were getting busier; previously, there were only about three other people per screen.
'Romeo & Juliet' - One of Shakespeare's most famous plays, the crowd was the largest yet here. The scenes depicted the events toward the end of the play with Juliet falling asleep to being found by Romeo and Romeo deciding to join her.
'Richard III' - This is filmed at the Tower of London and depicts the king in a confused state with a lot of fighting.
By this time, the sun had nearly disappeared, and I was starting to feel really cold as there was a little bit of a cold breeze. When the sun was out, it did feel nice.
'Love's Labour's Lost' - Filmed in Spain with a lot of theatre shots used, this is another comedy.
'King John' - Filmed in Northamptonshire, the film depicts King John attempting to blind his nephew Arthur because he has more right to the crown after the death of Richard Lionheart. The film also depicts scenes about Shakespeare's life, including the death of his own son, and this played a part in the writing of this play.
'The Comedy of Errors' - This is a romantic comedy that features a case of mistaken identity. Two twin boys grow up into adults and the wife of one claims she is the wife of the other one. A lot of the scenes are shot in a Turkish restaurant in London, and the film blends the modern day antics with shots from the theatre.
'Richard II' - This is filmed at Westminster Hall and Houses of Parliament and features one of the most unpopular kings with internal battles and being confronted by Bolingbroke over the throne.
By this time, I'd made it to Gabriel's Wharf. There's a man who makes sand sculptures here that I've seen in the past, but his work seems to have gotten more detailed. When I walked past, he was constructing a massive sandcastle and used flour as snow. He'd also found a couple of toys from popular childrens' toys and was using them.
It was in this area that I really started to feel the cold and the sun had gone in for the remainder of the day.
'A Midsummer Night's Dream' - Filmed at Wilton House in Wilshire, this is a fantasy play between two couples, one set who is being forced into marriage. They come across fairies.
'The Merchant of Venice' - This is shot in Venice and features borrowing money and the trouble that results from this.
'Henry IV, Part 1' - This was filmed in the modern day at The George Inn pub in Borough Market and features the prince and his drinking problems.
'Much Ado About Nothing' - Filmed in Italy, this is a romantic comedy.
'Henry IV, Part 2' - Filmed at Westminster Abbey, the featured character is John Falstaff and his many disguises as England prepare to go into battle with Welsh rebels.
'The Merry Wives of Windsor' - I think this play is best described as comedy and features women who wish to humiliate a man who is trying his luck with them. This got a lot of laughter from the crowd.
When I arrived near the Tate, the crowds grew even more.
'Hamlet' - I've read this play at least twice at different points in my education. This film is best-described as a series of quotations from the play. It was filmed in Denmark with four main actors/actresses who said the lines between them while in the rooms or hallways of the castle in Denmark.
'Henry V' - Filmed in Calais on the battlefields, this was showing on a large screen in front of the Tate. A lot of the scenes were actually excerpts from the play at the Globe, and the famous speech to gather the troops to war was acted.
'As You Like It' - Shot in the Ardennes in Belgium, this features a character in disguise to find her exiled father and she meets her love interest while in this disguise. The beginning of the film stated that this area is where Shakespeare's mother was from.
'Julius Caesar' - This is another play that I've read twice. It was showing on the other large screen by the Tate. Although some of the scene was filmed in Italy with dialog between two of the characters before murdering Caesar, most of this was shown from the theatre and depicted Caesar's death. I was not too impressed with this one; this is a brilliant play and I didn't get much sense of that by looking at these ten minutes.
After these plays, I had to walk a little while for the next one. This included walking past the Globe threate, where the gate was covered in red and white roses. I also stopped for a very quick late lunch and to warm up.
'Othello' - Filmed in Northern Cyprus, this was showing at the entrance tunnel underneath Southwark Bridge and was a difficult place to watch and listen due to being in a small area and having to stand so close to the screen that I could not see much of what was going on. The majority of the play features Othello's jealousy as he believes his wife is committing adultry.
'Measure for Measure' - Shot in Vienna, this play features the corrupt and cruel Angelo.
'Twelfth Night' - Filmed in England, this ten-minute segment also shows silent film clips and clips from the theatre with Stephen Fry. It is a case of mistaken identity and cross-dressing characters. The play has a major part of comedy.
'Troilus & Cressida' - Filmed at the ruins of Troy in Turkey, it features the characters of Homer's 'The Iliad' and a back-story about Achilles refusing to fight.
'All's Well That Ends Well' - This is filmed in France with two female characters discussing the love of the son of one of the women. The remainder is acted out with an Indian cast.
'Timon of Athens' - Because of false friends and struggling to make ammends, Timon curses the city of Athens. This is filmed on the hills near Athens.
'Anthony & Cleopatra' - Filmed at the pyramids, Cleopatra is love-sick for Anthony and the scenes shot show her struggling and deciding to end her life.
'King Lear' - Filmed with sweeping views of the White Cliffs of Dover, the king turns his older daughters against him, but the banished youngest of the daughters comes to his aid later on. The silent films and theatre productions also are shown.
'Macbeth' - Filmed in Scotland, this is one of Shakespeare's best-known plays, but it's one that I had never read. It features the scheming and untrustworthy Macbeth.
'Coriolanus' - Filmed in Rome, this features a modern take of the play with the main actor driving around the modern city reading the lines.
'Henry VIII' - This play features the king learning about the birth of his daughter, who would be known as Elizabeth I. It is filmed at Hampton Court Palace, the home of Henry VIII.
'Pericles' - Filmed at the Globe, the play is about a shipwreck and those who have been separated due to it but who have miraculously discovered each other again.
Potter's Field was the location of three of the final screens. By this time, I was very cold.
'Cymbeline' - This features the servant of a man who is bringing a lady into the woods in Wales with the intention to murder her based on orders of her husband. He encourages her to disguise herself as a boy and run away.
'The Winter's Tale' - Filmed in a hall near one of Shakespeare's theatres, it is a story about conflict and jealousy in which one of the characters claims the other is adulterous.
'The Tempest' - Filmed at Bermuda, it also features a shipwreck. A lot of the play was footage from the theatre, and I stayed for most of this one but was very cold and decided to skip part of it and head back.
Did you see 'The Complete Walk' at the weekend? I have read that over half of the screens on Saturday had problems, but all of the screens were fine on Sunday when I visited. The only problem was the volume was not loud enough in a couple of places or there were external factors; the 'Henry V' screen was also missing a chunk off the screen, but this did not impact.