THE Bard is back where he has always belonged - centre-stage. Celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death yesterday saw even the most powerful leader of the modern world, US President Barack Obama, paying homage to the playwright and poet, who made his dramatic name chronicling the lives of the most powerful leaders of the classical and medieval world.

Obama, as part of his UK tour, dropped into the Globe theatre for a 10-minute performance of a scene from Hamlet, where the Danish prince poses one of the most quoted lines - and metaphysical questions - ever written: "To be or not to be".

The Globe, with its timbered, white-washed curved-walls, is a monument to the Bard, famous for its open-air performances of the works of the playwright.

With the sun illuminating the theatre's wooden stage through the open roof, Obama was treated to a short private performance and entertained by a troupe of actors playing mandolins, accordions and penny whistles.

"That was wonderful. I don't want it to stop," Obama said of the tale of the melancholy prince.

In London some 37 screens across a 2.5 mile route between Westminster and Tower Bridge will play individual 10-minute Shakespeare films featuring globally-renowned actors in international locations: such as Cleopatra performed in front of the Pyramids, or to Hamlet on the rocks of Elsinore.

In Scotland celebrations include the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh hosting the exhibition Playing Shakespeare, focusing on iconic performances from the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Judi Dench, Vivien Leigh, and Maggie Smith.

Thousands of well-wishers from around the world also gathered at Shakespeare's birthplace yesterday to celebrate the playwright's legacy. Townsfolk from Stratford-upon-Avon said they wanted to welcome "the world and his wife" for the celebration of their most famous son and his life and works.

A theatrical parade through Stratford-upon-Avon was attended by more than 10,000 people paying homage to the Bard, who was born and died on April 23. The parade featured civic dignitaries, local schoolchildren, musicians and performers, and a centrepiece ceremony with the unfurling of a birthday flag bearing the writer's image. Members of the Royal family were also in attendance.

BBC 2 also turned over its schedule to the Bard last night with Shakespeare Live!

David Tennant hosted the televised 400th anniversary party for the bard from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon with guests ranging from Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Meera Syal and Joseph Fiennes, as well as performers from the Royal Ballet and the English National Opera.

Tonight BBC4’s Arena strand provides a companion piece at 9pm, with All The World’s A Screen, a history of Shakespeare on film.