Today marks the 400 anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, but instead of mourning his passing, we are celebrating his life. If you are lucky enough to live in England then you have many Shakespeare events to choose from. There are festivals, parades, live products of his plays etc. Some of us however, live in cultural voids and have to host our own festivities. And because, today is the day, last minute planning may be in order!
Have no fear, I’ve got a list of ways you can salvage the day so that you too can celebrate Shakespeare Day
Pick up a play or a book. As I said earlier in the week, it’s okay to read Shakespeare. Unplug from world and settle in for a day of reading. We all need to step back once in awhile and disconnect; why not step way back into the 17th century and spend the day with Shakespeare? Pick up that one play you’ve always promised yourself you ‘d read, or reread you favorite, and look for things you’ve may have missed the first time around.
A play’s not the thing for you? May I suggest then a book about Shakespeare? James Shapiro’s Contested Will is a great read that looks beyond the man and explores the reasons behind some of the more famous authorship questions. Now is the time to cast aside any doubt as to the man behind the plays. Stephen Greenblatt’s Hamlet in Purgatory is another wise choice. It’s one of those rare books that have you wishing you could read it again for the first time.
Explore your movie options. If you’d rather see Shakespeare’s work in action, you’re in luck. Amazon Prime has you covered. Their library is full of may promising productions to choose from. Some of my favorites include the BBC produced plays (though not Timons of Athens, that was a mess and almost as boring as watching paint dry). If you missed the PBS Shakespeare Uncovered series, Amazon offers it for a small fee. I also noticed the movie Bill is out today and is available to rent. But, before you spend any money, it would be wise to see if your local library loans Shakespeare movies. This is a good way to support your library and encourage them to add more plays to their collection. As part of my own celebration I plan on finally watching Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Hamlet. Oh yes, I will have words, words, words on an upcoming post.
If you want to connect with others but find yourself alone, Folger is hosting The Wonder of Will a Shakespeare live event; probably as you are reading this (sorry, this is last minute after all). If you live in the U.S., stop reading and turn on C-SPAN2 Book TV. Here you will find Shakespeare experts and actors talking about his work and what he means to the world.
Host a Shakespeare themed party. Quick, call up some friends and invite them over for a last minute gathering. Shakespeare, Not Stirred is a collection of drink recipes inspired by Shakespeare. Good wine is a good familiar creature, if it be well used.
If you are like me, and have as part of your Shakespeare library, renaissance cookbooks, now’s the day to pull one out. Shakespeare’s Kitchen may inspire your inner Elizabethan cook. Now’s the time to finally try that Apple and Steak pie or Rose Cake recipe. Why not have friends over for dinner and a movie? Enjoy your inner Falstaff and sing a bawdy song and make your friends merry.
If you find that you just can’t screw up your courage to move beyond the computer just yet, well, have I got a treat for you. Here is collection of Youtube videos to watch, all inspired by Shakespeare!
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal.
And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt telling the saddest tale
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me.
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And “Tailor!” cries, and falls into a cough,
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.
William Shakespere: Henry IV, Midsummer’s Night Dream, Othello