Shakespeare in China

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Shakespeares Birthplace

…as it is in Stratford-upon-Avon

All readers will have heard of Shakespeare. Many, if not most, readers will have visited his birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.

In the future, you might not want to go to Stratford but instead to San Weng, a new international heritage and cultural centre near Fuzhou City in China.

A deal has been signed between the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Fuzhou Culture and Tourism Investment Company Ltd to recreate both Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Shakespeare’s New Place in San Weng.

The Trust will provide historical and contemporary data for the design and construction of the original houses, together with expert guidance on traditional building methods and materials, and support for exhibition content and presentation. It will have approval of all stages of design, build and interpretation.

But San Weng will have a feature Stratford doesn’t have. Shakespeare’s adult home at New Place was demolished in 1702 so we can only see plans of what it was like. If you want to see the “real” thing a trip to San Weng will be required.

San Weng, (which translates as Three Masters) will celebrate three great literary figures of East and West – Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Tang Xianzu, the region’s own renowned playwright. It will also feature a ‘Stratford-upon-Avon’ quarter, styled on the Tudor architecture of the real market town in England. The new town is expected to open in 2020.

A thought comes to mind. Will having a full size Shakespeare Birthplace in San Weng deter Chinese visitors from coming to Stratford to see the original or will it encourage them to come? Only time will answer that.

If it does encourage them to come then maybe we should give consideration to having other buildings recreated in China, particularly buildings from UK and Irish destinations that aren’t currently on Chinese tour itineraries. What about a castle such as Stirling or Kidwelly? How about a reconstruction of Fountains Abbey or, better still, one of the major mediaeval foundations that have since disappeared from our landscape?

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