The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has made the unlikely union between Shakespeare and the popular video game for their latest competition aimed at getting children involved with the commemorations set for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
Back in 2011, Channel 4’s Time Team unearthed a terrific new discovery. Amid the dirt and sand they found the foundational footprints of Shakespeare’s final residence: New Place. As part of its ongoing project to reconstruct the site in commemoration of 400 years since his death, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has launched its exciting new competition, Shakescraft. Calling upon the architectural ingenuities of both children and adults, the charity has asked gamers to imagine what Shakespeare’s house would have looked like using the block building game, Minecraft.
Frequently dubbed The Great House, constructing a virtual New Place will prove both a challenging and stimulating task. Shakespeare purchased the house in 1597 at the height of his career and, being one of the richest men in Stratford, his residence reflected his success in size and grandeur. Thanks to archaeological excavations, the footprints of the house revealed that he would have had his own well and grand gatehouse whilst strong speculation suggests that the house boasted ten fireplaces, an orchard and grounds large enough to comfortably keep animals!
So, if you consider yourself a budding builder, a glorious gamer, a master of Minecraft, or know someone that is, visit www.shakescraft.com for a wealth of resources to get your project off the ground. The site includes a blue print of the site, handy background information on the history of the house along with information on how to enter.
Not only will the winner receive a hoard of Minecraft and Shakespeare themed goodies worth £100, but they will be partaking in the largest project in the world to celebrate Shakespeare’s legacy. The site will reopen next year on 23rd April and will no doubt be a momentous occasion. The Shakescraft competition gives you a chance to have your say on what the house could have looked like so, with a closing date set for 31st August 2015, it’s time to get creative.
The idea for the competition sprung from the overwhelming interest and enthusiasm expressed by school children visiting the historic houses run by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. The New Place project manager Julie Crawshaw, said, ‘I know from personal experience how kids of all ages love Minecraft, so this competition is a fantastic opportunity to ignite young people’s interest in Shakespeare, and have fun at the same time’.
Although Shakespeare is present on the school curriculum from as early as primary school, the mastery of his work is not truly appreciated until much later–it took me until university before I grasped how phenomenally important his plays were to understanding the human condition. An interactive competition such as Shakescraft engages children with Shakespeare from a much younger age, taking the Bard out of the classroom, into their houses and onto their PCs and game consoles; reading Shakespeare’s work and discovering his history becomes a choice rather than a chore.
This shift which transforms Shakespeare from a hardship into a hobby is an encouraging trend that promises to engage new audiences with classic literature. I plan to investigate this changing perspective of Shakespeare by talking to those who have connected the millennial generation with Shakespeare’s work through both unconventional and popular mediums. Keep an eye on the Voices section to hear what they have to say.