Title slide of video with the words Shakespeare at the UN

On 23 April 2024, in commemoration of English Language Day 2024 at the United Nations, the UN Movie Society (part of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council) inaugurated the three-year “Shakespeare at the UN” project. This is an exploration of how the works of Shakespeare resonate with the core values of the UN, including the promotion of understanding and the fostering of global connections. Celebrating the English language at the United Nations, English Language Day is celebrated on the 23rd of April - the date traditionally observed as the birthday of William Shakespeare (who was christened on April 26th 1564).

Despite its occasion, this first ‘Shakespeare at the UN’ video includes passages from Shakespeare performed in other official languages of the UN (French, Spanish, Mandarin), as well as performances by Anglophone actors such as Danny Sapani and Adrian Lester, an introduction from Britain’s ambassador to the UN, messages from the artistic directors of Shakespeare’s Globe and of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and concluding remarks by Professor Dobson.

As well as being the English language's most famous playwright, Shakespeare had a significant impact on modern-day English. Shakespeare's creativity with language meant he contributed hundreds of new words and phrases: the verb  'to gossip' and the adjectives 'fashionable' and 'lonely' were all first used by Shakespeare. He also invented phrases like 'break the ice', 'faint-hearted' and 'love is blind'. (Text by UN).

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Opening slide from video showing characters from Shakespeare plays