Shakespearean Spirit Rises in Romania

SFINTU GHEORGHE, Romania -- The spirit of Shakespeare is haunting a mountainous enclave on the eastern rim of Romania's Transylvania region.

Attila Nagy has embarked on an ambitious project to build a replica of the Globe Theater in Sfintu Gheorghe, a sleepy 14th century town, 200 km north of Bucharest.

"Shakespeare and his Globe Theater fascinate people in this area of Eastern Europe, who suffered so much from isolation and who had almost lost hope of being ever able to reach out to the outside world until recently," he explains.

For Nagy, as for most East European intellectuals, Shakespeare was a refuge from the rigors of life during long decades of totalitarian communist rule.

After the 1989 collapse of communist governments across the region, East Europeans like Nagy turned to Shakespeare for clues to the dangers of resurgent nationalism and intolerance in their countries.

Nagy, founded the Shakespeare Kingdom House, a non-profit society, in his home town two years ago. Now Nagy wants to build a replica of the Globe Theatre, to have the Bard's plays performed by East European and Western theater companies in a magical "wooden O" in Sfintu Gheorghe.

Part of his dream came true this year on the anniversary of Shakespeare's April 23 birthday, when he laid the foundation stone of the Globe Theater project on a deserted sports field on the town's northern outskirts.

"This is the place where we will build Shakespeare's Globe," Nagy said confidently, his hand encompassing the setting for the future theater -- a patch of unkempt land with brambles and scorched grass surrounded by walls of wire mesh.

He also had a small bag of earth brought from Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon in England, and buried at the site.