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This Sunday’s tweet from  @HollowCrownFans read “Good morning and welcome to #ShakespeareSunday! Today’s theme has been chosen by @PublicTheaterNY: FREEDOM & ART!” *

I was reminded of Nelson Mandela and the other anti-apartheid prisoners held on Robben Island. One, Indian prisoner Sonny Venkatrathnam, had a copy of the works of William Shakespeare covered in images from greetings cards depicting Hindu gods (the guards were unlikely to take a religious book).

This book was passed among prisoners, and leaders were asked to mark their favourite passages. This 2001 article ‘O, what men dare do’ is very interesting re. this, South Africa, Shakespeare and freedom.

Probably the most famous of the prisoners who marked the ‘Robben Island Bible’ is Nelson Mandela, who had a long relationship with Shakespeare’s words / ideas. Here you can see his signature and the passage he chose, from Julius Caesar…

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‘Freedom’ appears 33 times** in Shakespeare’s works and is included in the 306 occurrences found of ‘free’.

*(Public Theater were recently involved in controversy with their Trump-related take on Julius Caesar: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=public+theater+shakespeare+trump)

** opensourceshakespeare.org –  great resource!

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@HollowCrownFans tweeted that “Today’s #ShakespeareSunday theme has been chosen by @Carnival_Films to mark 5 years of #TheHollowCrown! – POWER, DEFIANCE & SURVIVAL!”

I was delighted to find all three clear in this quote from the play Coriolanus, spoken by tribune Sicinius Velutus, an enemy of the general Coriolanus…

Coriolanus [III, 3] Sicinius Velutus: What you have seen him do and heard him speak, Beating your officers, cursing yourselves, Opposing laws with strokes and here defying Those whose great power must try him; even this, So criminal and in such capital kind, Deserves the extremest death.

It is clear the politicians know how to influence the people – whether it is to their own good or not you / a production can explore.

How do I know how many times certain words turn up in Shakespeare’s works?

I use opensourceshakespeare.org –  great resource!

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