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Hear the Ambassadors

Performing diplomacy in the age of Shakespeare

Carol Rutter

How do governments conduct diplomacy, negotiate trade, protect their citizens abroad, share intelligence, or respond to acts of war? These questions, still urgent today, were recently explored in an exhibition at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and are now the subject of a short film. Produced as part of a collaboration between the University of Warwick and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the exhibition (which closed last year) and film both draw on the original research of Professor Carol Chillington Rutter.

The film takes us into the world of Ambassador Henry Wotton, who was charged with reinstating diplomatic relations between London and the Venetian Republic after a 50 year gap, just as Shakespeare was exposing audiences to the complexities of international diplomacy in plays ranging from Hamlet and Twelfth Night to Othello and Antony and Cleopatra. It illustrates the performance of democracy with objects, documents and early printed books from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s internationally designated collections, together with facsimile artworks including Fialetti’s panoramic ‘View of Venice’, owned by Eton College.  

Image Credits:

Map of Europe by Abraham Ortelius, 1603
From Abraham Ortelius his epitome of the Theater of the worlde

CC-BY-NC-ND Image courtesy of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust