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Barack Obama praises 'wonderful' actors after Hamlet performance

Published 23/04/2016

US president Barack Obama watches a performance during a visit to the Globe Theatre in London to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare
US president Barack Obama watches a performance during a visit to the Globe Theatre in London to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare

US President Barack Obama was treated to a special performance of scenes from Hamlet at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, praising the actors as "wonderful".

The president made an early-morning trip to the playhouse in Southwark on what is the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.

He stood in the open-air theatre and watched intently as the actors performed a medley of different scenes from the tragedy, including the famous "To be, or not to be" soliloquy.

The president smiled at some of the more humorous scenes and was seen at one point gently moving to the music.

Before the performance, Mr Obama was given a brief tour of the theatre by Patrick Spottiswoode, director of Globe Education, whom he congratulated for " doing a great job".

The actors performing were from a company of 16 who embarked on a two-year tour in 2014 playing to more than 100,000 people in 197 countries.

They returned home on Friday and will perform their four final shows at the theatre this weekend.

Clapping loudly as the performance ended, Mr Obama was invited to join the actors on stage.

He said: "Let me shake hands with everyone. That was wonderful. I don't want it to stop."

Shakespeare's Globe, a reconstruction of the 1599 theatre where many of Shakespeare's greatest works were performed, opened in 1997 after more than 27 years of planning and four years of construction.

The man behind the campaign to rebuild the theatre just a few hundred yards from the original site on London's South Bank was American actor and director Sam Wanamaker.

Wanamaker, who died three-and-a-half years before the theatre was completed, was awarded a CBE in 1993 for his contribution to relations between Britain and the US, and for his efforts on behalf of the Shakespeare Globe project.

Dominic Dromgoole, artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe, said it was "an honour" to host the president, whose campaign slogan he said inspired their tour.

He said: "At the end of an extraordinary journey all around the world, it is great to return home to the Globe and to be able to perform a few scenes and to be welcomed back by President Barack Obama.

"The spirit of 'Yes we can' has informed the entire tour and it's an honour to meet the man who coined the phrase, and who exemplifies its spirit."

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