10 July, 2007

Hall's Croft at Stratford

Today we visited Hall's Croft in the town of Stratford. It is a historically significant building because it was once owned and lived in by Shakespeare's daughter Susanna and her husband Dr. John Hall. Their only daughter Elizabeth was the last direct descendant of William Shakespeare. It is a wonderful example of what a wealthier home would have looked like in the early 17th century. The museum and its exhibits are cared for by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which is an independent charity that maintains all five Shakespeare houses and curates archives of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The second floor of the house is currently home to The Complete Works of Shakespeare Exhibition which was truly fascinating to see. The exhibit is meant to compliment the Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works Festival. It is maintained by the staff from its education estates, library, and museum. The texts displayed in the exhibit were written by the Trust's Chairman, Director, and Head of Education. What made the exhibit come to life for me was the digitized version of the first edition of Shakespeare's Complete Works Folio. It was fascinating to actually touch the screen to simulate the turning of the pages in the book. Although the exhibit itself was small, I felt that it was very hands on and interactive.

One of the interactive displays was questions to test your knowledge of Shakespeare and his works. You lifted up a flap of cloth to reveal if the statement printed on it was true or false. I was disturbed to discover from this exhibit that the author translated into the most languages worldwide is none other than....L.Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. I guessed Shakespeare.