Happy 450th birthday, William Shakespeare! Break out the champagne; blow out the candles and party like it is 1594. How would Shakespeare have partied in the late 15th century? Actually, how would he celebrate today? Moreover, how would fans celebrate his birthday?
Shakespeare would have been happy to put on a great production for his 450th birthday. Bringing to a new age the magically world of fairies and fantasies like he did in Midsummer Night’s Dream. Introducing his new friends to old friends, they all would applaud Othello and be shocked by the betrayal to Julius Caesar. Many would explore the tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet while watching Antony and Cleopatra as their empire collapse. All the while listening to the whispers of deceit echo softy under the music of the gala like they did in Much Ado about Nothing.
The Tri-State Area was full of festivities in honor of the great William Shakespeare and his extremely happy 450th birthday, celebrating through the art that made him a household name. The Skyline Theatre Company brought all 37 plays to the George Frey Center for Arts and Recreation in the Fair Lawn Community Center. It was a 97 minute rendition of Shakespeare’s complete works, that was recently updated by the original authors and was also London’s longest-running comedy and did wonderful Off-Broadway in New York.
The MONDO Brownstone Theater, located in Summit, NJ also hosted an event in his honor, “Celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday & Poetry Month in a Lunch-and-Learn with Michelle Cameron, which not only celebrated Shakespeare, but also celebrated National Poetry Month. If you were lucky you were able to catch the Brookdale Community College English Department’s conclusion to their four-year long celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday. Reaching their goal of reading all 37 of his works, they were able to celebrate not only a great writer, but a goal that first came to life back in April of 2011
Of course the Tri-State Area was not the only place getting in on the party, there were events going on all over the country; Elements Theatre Company in Orleans, MA hosted: Celebrate the 450th Birthday of the Bard, as well as The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC who hosted: Shakespeare’s Birthday Open House, while also offering Shakespeare for Kids.
There are so many ways to celebrate one of the greatest writer’s birthday. 450 years, 37 masterpieces, and billions of happy fans, but hey if you couldn’t make it to one of the many events no worries there are still ways to experience William Shakespeare. Enjoy an evening with Laurence Oliver while he amazes you in the 1965 version of Othello. Dance with Helen Mirren as she portrays Hermia and Diane Rigg as Helena in the 1968 version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Peter Hall.
How about feeling the might of Anthony Hopkins as Titus Andronicus in the 1999 version of Titus. Experience the 2012 version of, Much Ado About Nothing again for the very first time under the direction of Joss Whedon. Whedon’s version includes an all-star cast including, Amy Acker as the feisty Beatrice, Alexis Denisof as the suave Benedick and Clark Gredd as the fun, loving Leonato. Reed Diamond also graces the screen as the wise Don Pedro, while Jillian Morgese and Fran Kranz cast a spell of the audience as the lovers Hero and Claudio. Then again, simple fall under the spell of The Tempest as it is portrayed in brilliance in the 2010 version where Helen Mirren tackles yet another dynamic Shakespearean role as the great and powerful Prospera.
However, the celebration, whether a movie, the stage, or literature take a moment and introduce a new fan to his amazing talent and do not forget to say happy birthday, or rather happy 450th birthday, dear William Shakespeare.
By Virginia Snowden