Troupe keeps Shakespeare "alive" 400 years after death

Shakespeare's dramatic impact 400 years later... 03:17

Saturday marks a milestone for William Shakespeare lovers -- it's the 400th anniversary of his death. But his legacy is stronger than ever.

Shakespeare influenced hundreds of movies, songs and television shows. His work has been performed by most of the Hollywood elite, but it all started from the floorboards of the famous Globe Theater in London.

With all the drama of any Shakespearean play, it was there that a small group of men and women set off to prove that all the world is a stage for Shakespeare, reports CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata.

Historian claims to have uncovered first ever... 00:26

He is held in the highest regard in England. The greatest storyteller of all time helped shaped its culture and language forever, and may be its most successful export - which was the simple aim of "Globe to Globe." But the challenge of taking "Hamlet" on a two-year tour to every country in the world -- well, there's the rub.

They traveled 193,000 miles, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Cuba to Cameroon and Tehran to Thailand -- 197 countries in all. It was an idea Globe Creative Director Dominic Dromgoole stumbled on after a few pints at the pub.

"And because it's a nicely stupid idea, we're going to go to every country in the world -- and you can say it in six, seven words -- it catches on," Dromgoole said.

It did -- everywhere. They even tried to get to Libya and Syria, but it was too risky. So instead, they performed for refugees in Jordan, when the tempest struck.

"The wind started whipping outside and then the light went thick yellow and then it went orange and then it went completely black, because we were in the middle of this biblical sandstorm," Dromgoole recalled.

In Rome, CBS News caught up with Naeem Hayat, one of two actors who play Hamlet. "It's equally invigorating, exciting, but also terrifying. To get to say 'to be or not to be' every night is probably one of the most privileged position I think any actor can be in," Hayat said.

That a long-dead poet can transcend from required high school reading to reach global audiences for 400 years is a testament to The Bard's storytelling.

"Our language is built by Shakespeare. Thousands of words he made up, thousands of phrases, thousands of ways of thinking, which is what language and phrases are," Dromgoole said.

That includes phrases such as "break the ice," "in a pickle," "wild goose chase," "wear your heart on your sleeve," "love is blind" and a whole lot more.

As the curtain falls for the cast of Hamlet takes this weekend, it's the final act for Dromgoole, too. He steps down after ten years at the Globe.

And yes, parting is such sweet sorrow for a man who has dedicated much of his life to Shakespeare.