The Marlowe Society
Shakespeare's Treasure: The Gilded Mask
26 April 2010

The Quest for Shakespeare's Treasure

"Go forward, in that famous art wherein all nature's treasure is contain'd."

If you find the mental challenge of a puzzle stimulating, then you may be interested in The Quest for Shakespeare's Treasure.

The Quest is an online treasure hunt that was launched on 23 April 2010, the day on which the Bard's birthday is generally celebrated, and runs for exactly one year. Participants are in with a chance of ultimately winning a beautiful gilded mask, an incredible gold-covered work of art that also includes diamonds, sapphires, a ruby, and an emerald - a prize that harks back to the famous bejeweled hare hidden by Kit Williams for his famous Masquerade Treasure Hunt launched in 1979. There are also monthly prizes on offer, including sets of prints of the paintings used in the Quest, and trips to The Globe Exhibition. Unlike Masquerade, however, you do not even need to leave your armchair to have a chance of winning the main prize, for it is buried in a virtual location. All you have to do is work out where!

There are two stages to the Quest. Once you have registered, the first stage is to find the answers to 15 Shakespeare-themed questions. This is a good test for anyone with an interest in Elizabethan theatre, and the questions are not solely about the bard. There are a few concerning Marlowe for example, including one about the Baines Note. If your knowledge and library aren't sufficient to answer all the questions, Google can also be employed to assist you.

Once you have successfully completed this first stage, you reach the all important second stage. Here you are presented with 37 digital images of paintings produced especially for the Quest by a mysterious artist, A. Piper (the originals are on display at The Globe). We'll leave you to work out why there are exactly 37! Each painting contains a Shakespearean clue from which collectively you can derive a riddle. Solve the riddle and this will lead you to the virtual treasure location. Everyone who correctly identifies the location will be entered into the draw for the mask which will take place on 24th April 2011. It is therefore not a race to solve the puzzle first - you simply have to solve the puzzle within one year.

The entry fee is £10, but you will be supporting a number of worthy causes in the process. A quarter of all profits will be donated to a new scholarship foundation, called Nick's Fund set up to help talented people from deprived backgrounds achieve success in the arts. Other funds raised from the Quest will be split between The Children's Society and The Shakespeare Globe Trust, supporting educational programmes for youngsters with special needs. On top of that, all entrants will be offered a 30 day free trial at LOVEFiLM, and will receive a £10 Love2Shop Voucher if the offer is taken up.

But putting aside the supporting of good causes and the chance to win prizes, it is surely the challenge of the pitting your wits and knowledge of Shakespearean Theatre against the Hunt setters that is most appealing...?!

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