Shakespeare's homes to be reconstructed in China

Two of Shakespeare’s homes will be recreated in China, as part of a new international heritage and cultural centre called San Weng, celebrating 3 literary figures from the East and West.

Construction has commenced on the centre near Fuzhou City, Jiangxi Province, South China, which will include a Stratford on Avon quarter, modelled on the English town, featuring Shakespeare’s Birthplace and his adult home - New Place.

The initiative, due to open in 2020, is driven by a partnership bewtween the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Fuzhou Culture and Tourism Investment Company Ltd.

The site of Shakespeare’s Birthplace, in Stratford on Avon, has been preserved largely as the playwright would have known it, however New Place, his adult home, was demolished in 1702, with a commemorative garden now standing in it’s stead.  The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the independent charity that cares for the English sites, will advise the China reconstructions to help produce faithful reproductions of the original structures.

San Weng, (which translates as Three Masters) will celebrate three great literary figures of East and West – Shakespeare, Cervantes (from Spain), and Tang Xianzu, the region’s own renowned playwright. As well as the Stratford quarter, there will be a Spanish Alcala quarter and an ancient Chinese village. The entire centre will encompass 220 acres, including theatre, tourism and leisure zones. 

Peter Kyle, Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust said, “We are delighted to enter this agreement to assist the Fuzhou Municipal Government in realising their ambitious plans to bring Shakespeare’s family homes to life for visitors to San Weng. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has a unique remit, charged by an Act of Parliament to preserve our greatest Shakespeare heritage assets, and to share them with the world. This innovative, two-way partnership will significantly advance our charitable objective to promote worldwide the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works life and times. By providing our knowledge and expertise to help the Fuzhou team to create an authentic spirit of place, we will enable more of our ongoing work here in the UK to conserve, sustain and share the extraordinary Shakespeare legacy in our care. Millions of people who might never have the opportunity to visit our global Shakespeare centre in Stratford-upon-Avon will now have a chance to enrich their connection with Shakespeare in China.

“Shakespeare speaks to all humanity, transcending borders and barriers, and he is a powerful ambassador for the growing cultural, creative and tourism ties between the UK and China. We are grateful to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the British Consulate team in China, the British Council and the Chinese Embassy for their consistent support for this project.”

The Co-operation Agreement was signed by Philippa Rawlinson, Deputy Chief Executive of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and Fu Wubiao, the General Manager of Fuzhou Culture and Tourism Investment Development Company, at a ceremony in Fuzhou on the eve of the city’s Tang Xianzu International Theatre Festival at the end of September. 

Philippa Rawlinson said, “Never before has the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust considered authorising the recreation of the iconic properties which have attracted millions of Shakespeare fans for centuries. The agreement follows two years of detailed consultation and reflects the shared commitment of both partners to ensuring that the replica houses will be as true to the originals as possible, rooted in the built heritage, and internationally-significant collections which make the Shakespeare family homes one of China’s favourite destinations in the UK. This exciting venture will create new opportunities to help more people get up close and personal with Shakespeare and a new centre for cultural and artistic exchanges.”

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