The relationship of William Shakespeare and Czech arts and literature is a long one. “Apart from identifying (him) and his plays with an ideal value system”  of a better world that goes well beyond the troubles of everyday lives, within the Czech context Shakespeare has been endlessly used as a mean of resistance against the unapproved ruling power. One of the most important moments of Czech Shakespearean resistance was the 1916 Prague Shakespearean Cycle which celebrated the 300th anniversary of his death. The aim of this celebration had both artistic and political implications, to draw attention of the rest of the world to the existence, maturity and the rights of the oppressed Czech nation.
The whole cycle originally embraced 16 evenings with 16 plays by William Shakespeare including a five hour long version of both the parts of Henry IV., which were to be presented in one evening. Due to censorship  this premiere had to be postponed to a separate staging in autumn 1916. The final order of the plays was: The Comedy of Errors (27. 3. 1916), The Life and Death of King Richard III (30. 3. 1916), Romeo and Juliet (1. 4. 1916), The Midsummer Night´s Dream (4. 4. 1916), The Merchant of Venice (7. 4. 1916), Taming of the Shrew (13. 4. 1916), As You Like It (15. 4. 1916), Measure for Measure (17. 4. 1916), Twelfth Night, or What You Will (19. 4. 1916), Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark (23. 4. 1916), King Lear (25. 4. 1916), Macbeth (28. 4. 1916), Othello, the Moor of Venice (30. 4. 1916), and The Winter´s Tale (4. 5. 1916).
The whole cycle opened on 27th March 1916 with an hour long lecture, held by an important Czech intellectual, novelist, and scholar, František Xaver Šalda, entitled Genius Shakespeare, and His Oeuvre. The lecture is interesting in its very structure, with the usage of the second person singular as if speaking to Shakespeare himself when describing his oeuvre, stressing “the establishment of ‘concrete humanity’, consisting in the fullness and complexity of dramatic characters” , and contrary in the very last sentence using the second person plural when activating the audience, with: “Hurry, hurry to love, what shall not be seen twice” , which was well heard by the audience, and reflected by press. The majority of the performances were entirely sold out, and despite the terrors of the War, spectators were enthusiastic, as stated by F.X. Šalda: “By creating the jubilee Shakespearean Dramatic Cycle in spring 1916, the National Theater understood what is expected from it, and by those means formed a silent political protest.” .
The celebration of the anniversary however did not focus only on the National Theater but was supported by other Shakespearean productions, as for example The Merchant of Venice in the Švanda Theater on the left bank of the Vltava river, The Merry Wives of Windsor in the Municipal Theater in Vinohrady, and Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark which was performed by a travelling theater troupe outside of Prague.  The press was also much involved in the preparation of the cycle informing about the rehearsal, and separate evenings of the cycle, two magazines (Světozor, and Zlatá Praha) prepared special editions dedicated to William Shakespeare. Publishing houses reprinted popular essays and publications by elite Czech scholars, for example Vilém Mathesius, the founder of English studies on the Prague University. Shakespeare´s plays were adapted into prose and published in popular book editions, and also into texts suitable for marionette theaters.