It is my birth-day: I had thought to have held it poor.
—Antony and Cleopatra, Act 3 Scene 8.
If you think Shakespeare was Shakespeare, then you might have an interest in today, April 23, being the 398th anniversary of his death.
Of course, the bigger deal, round-number-wise, is April 23, 1564—the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth.
Both dates are contended (Wikipedia defiantly has the birthdate as April 25), but you have to celebrate sometime.
Or do we? Can we possibly due more to honor Shakespeare than we already do? Yale University devoted a whole academic year to the bard, in an campus-wide frenzy that stretched across several disciplines and numerous colleges, departments, galleries, stages and student organizations. And that was a completely arbitrary exercise done last year.
The 2011 centennial of Tennessee Williams’ birth led to a welcome reappraisal of his works, including some from a long period of his career when he was not getting properly produced. Shaw, Coward and others have benefitted from the same attention. But Shakespeare’s never gone out of style. He entered the academic canon centuries ago but also remains beloved by popular filmmakers, community theaters and cartoonists. Shakespeare’s ubiquitous; forgive me if I don’t jump up and down about this week more than I do any other week.
(Or does my reticence have something to do with the fact that I’m 53 and haven’t ever written a full-length play, and Shakespeare died at 52? Nah.)
Locally, the new local company The Legacy Theatre, which is in the process of renovating the old Stony Creek Puppet House Theater in Branford as its primary performance venue, is doing a reading of Hamlet (by you-know-who) on Friday, April 25, at 2 p.m. in the Blackstone Library (758 Main St., Branford) just down the road from the Puppet House. Details at (203) 488-1441.
Electronically, the place to celebrate is Bloggers [Heart] Shakespeare, which encourages uses of Twitter, Instagram and other post-Elizabethan communications innovations to proclaim their love for the bard between April 23 and 30. Details here.
By the way, here are some other April 23 birthdays: President James Buchanan (1791), Cow Cow Davenport (1894), Judy Davis (1955), Sandra Dee (1942), Joyce DeWitt (1949), J.P. Donleavy (1926), Stephen Douglas (1813), Jim Fixx (1932), Ruggero Leoncavallo (1857), Lee Majors (1939), Ngaio Marsh (1895), Michael Moore (1954), John Oliver (1977), Roy Orbison (1936), Dev Patel (1990), Kal Penn (1977), William Penn (1621), Sergei Prokofiev (1891), Shirley Temple (1928), Herve Villechaize (1943), and a bunch of sports figures who are probably important but I wouldn’t know.
Showing their birth and where they did proceed?
Come, temperate nymphs, and help to celebrate.