Trevor Nunn: Shakespeare 'hundred times' more relevant than Bible

Published 17 March 2014  |  
(PA)
Theatre director Trevor Nunn

Esteemed theatre, film and TV director Trevor Nunn believes that Shakespeare is has more to say about the human condition than the Bible.

With credits including stage musicals Les Misérables and Cats, it is also fair to say he may be one of the Bard's biggest fans, having directed no less than thirty of Shakespeare's plays, including Macbeth, King Lear and The Tempest. He plans to stage the final seven of the playwright's dramas before retirement.

"Shakespeare is my religion," he told The Telegraph in an interview published on the 16 March.

"Shakespeare has more wisdom and insight about our lives, about how to live and how not to live, how to understand out fellow creatures, than any religious tract."

Nunn goes on to assert that Shakespeare does this "one hundred times more than the Bible".

"Over and over again in the plays there is an understanding of the human condition that doesn't exist in religious books."

His comments come at a time when the relevance of the Bible is being hotly debated - figures from the Bible Society suggest that the UK population has less knowledge about Scripture than ever and that Biblical literacy is at an all time low.

In a recent study, almost a third (29 per cent) of children aged between 8 and 15 did not know that the Nativity story is found in the Bible, while a staggering 46 per cent of parents were unable to specify whether the story of Noah and the Ark was biblical.

However, as Hollywood is set to produce several biblical blockbusters this season, some scholars are contending that mainstream culture is continuing to engage with the Bible in a powerful way, underlining the enduring relevance of biblical themes within contemporary society.

"From my research, interest in the Bible and use of the Bible isn't in decline at all, it's prevalent," says Dr Katie Edwards, lecturer in The Bible and Contemporary Culture and Society at the University of Sheffield.

Referring to Darren Aronofsky's Noah set for release later this month, she notes that: "We have a tendency to buy into the mainstream idea that Bible literacy is in decline and no one cares about it, and then Hollywood makes an epic which undermines that view in itself."

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