Barack Obama gets a special Shakespeare performance on his visit to the Globe Theatre


US President Barack Obama has been treated to a special performance of scenes from Hamlet at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, praising the actors as "wonderful".

The president made an early-morning trip to the playhouse in Southwark on what is the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.

obama watches the performance
(Chris Radburn/PA)

He stood in the open-air theatre and watched, laughed and swayed as the actors performed a medley of different scenes from the tragedy, including the famous "To be, or not to be" soliloquy.

obama watches the actors on stage
(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

obama watches the actors
(Chris Radburn/PA)

Before the performance, Obama was given a brief tour of the theatre by Patrick Spottiswoode, director of Globe Education, whom he congratulated for "doing a great job".

The actors performing were from a company of 16 who embarked on a two-year tour in 2014 playing to more than 100,000 people in 197 countries. They returned home on Friday and will perform their four final shows at the theatre this weekend.

Clapping loudly as the performance ended, Obama was invited to join the actors on stage. He said: "Let me shake hands with everyone. That was wonderful. I don't want it to stop."

obama is given a tour of the globe theatre
(Chris Radburn/PA)

obama shakes hands with the actors
(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Shakespeare's Globe opened in 1997 after more than 27 years of planning and four years of construction. The man behind the campaign to rebuild the Globe just a few hundred yards from the original site on London's South Bank was American actor and director Sam Wanamaker.

Wanamaker, who died three-and-a-half years before the theatre was completed, was awarded a CBE in 1993 for his contribution to relations between Britain and the US, and for his efforts on behalf of the Shakespeare Globe project.