Shakespeare: A Life on Stage

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Illustration for TIME by John Ritter

Shakespeare's birthday on April 23 will be marked by an extraordinary relay. Over 24 hours, 60 groups of youngsters from New Zealand to Hawaii will enact excerpts from his plays. As part of this project, a Serbian youth group will perform Romeo and Juliet. How will they respond in a country so scarred by its own history of tribal divisions? Life has taught me a hard lesson about the power and impact of that play: my father, who died in 1970, banished me from his life because I played Juliet in a school production that dared to confront the prejudices of...