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Skip to 0 minutes and 15 seconds I come from a very international background. My mother is Japanese and my father is English, but I grew up in Munich in Germany. So I feel very international and not belonging to one place. I first came across Shakespeare at school, and only by playing Shakespeare did I start loving Shakespeare. The stories are based all over the world. And the majority of them are in England, but he writes about Troy, about Egypt, about Greece, Denmark. So having worked in theatre in different countries and seeing how audiences react to Shakespeare, everyone gets it, and I think it’s very universal. So my outlook is that it’s for everybody. It’s for any culture and any person.

Shakespeare for all

Susan talks about her own international background.

The question of how widely Shakespeare travelled is difficult to answer. Some people think that only someone who had visited Italy could have written plays like Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice and The Two Gentlemen of Verona. However, there is no evidence that Shakespeare did travel widely. What we do know is that he set many of his plays outside of England.

This list of plays and their locations shows the wide range of settings Shakespeare used. In the next step, you’ll do a quiz to see how well you know Shakespeare’s locations.

Can you think of reasons why Shakespeare might set his plays in other countries?

One reason is that many of the plays were taken from traditional stories that needed to be set in other countries. Another is that by setting the action outside of England, Shakespeare could say things about kings and rulers that it may have been difficult or dangerous to say if the events took place in his own country.

Add your own ideas.

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring English: Shakespeare

British Council