'Boldness be my friend'

Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It that "all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players".

And what a stage he made for the rest of us, transforming language and the way we respond to it. From before his death 398 years ago to the present day, the Bard's material continues to flit widely across a global audience, making light of language, cultural and generational barriers.

To any would-be actor, Shakespeare's influence is unparalleled. His characters and plots were writ large, his metaphors profound, his wit genuine and his understanding of the life and times in which he played, as deep as Mariana Trench. If there wasn't a word for what he wanted to say, he coined one, tailor-made.

Scholars have credited him with introducing at least 1700 words to the English, or at least for being the first to put them into writing.

But as lyrical as his phrasing, elegant his language and complex and winding his plots, it was his ability to empathise with and examine the range of human wants, needs, desires and foibles that underscored his genius, thereby ensuring his longevity.

Preparing to spread his wings and tread the boards of his own life is aspiring Nelson actor Luke Burke. His story - and hopefully there will be many acts yet to come - reminds us of the power of passion and the infectious of self-belief.

Just three weeks ago and he was preparing for an unhappy ending to his dream of raising sufficient cash to get to London, where he'd been invited to represent Nelson, among 23 other young thespians from around the world, at the Globe Theatre through the Young Shakespeare Company.

The fund-raising looked to be stuck in neutral before Luke hit on his Big Idea: a sponsored push to lose weight.

Luke's not been keen to reveal just how heavy he is, but it's fair to say he's a large lad. He's no couch-potato either, playing league for the Victory Phoenix Vikings - but clearly his story and commitment spurred a generous Nelson public, and he reached his $7800 target with ease, dropping 5kg over three weeks in the process.

His efforts were supported by some generous local businesses and mentors, and some positive publicity in the Nelson Mail and on social media went a long way.

No doubt his three-week intensive course at the Globe will be as profound and inspiring as Hamlet. Whatever happens over his next few years, it will clearly be a life-changing experience. Hopefully he remains on track weight-wise, too.

The last word is with the Bard, from King Henry IV: "Your lordship, though not clean past your youth, hath yet some smack of age in you, some relish of the saltness of time; and I most humbly beseech your lordship, to have a reverend care of your health".

The Nelson Mail