The Dog Ear: A global birthday celebration
Tomorrow would be William Shakespeare's 450th birthday. Historians predict that Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564, based on his baptism date of April 26, 1564. During that era, it was customary for babies to be baptized two to four days after birth, making April 23 a likely guess. We will never know his actual date of birth, but this marks the day of celebrations that will be held all over England in his honor.
Shakespeare was born and grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon. Located in the middle of England, this market town has become a popular tourist destination for Shakespeare fans. His house is still standing and is available for anyone to visit. Besides growing up in the house, it is also where Shakespeare lived for five years with his wife, Anne Hathaway. The town is also home to The Royal Shakespeare Company, a group of actors and actresses that perform in the Royal Shakespeare Theater. Various Shakespearean plays are acted out all year round but in celebration of his birthday, the members will be performing "Henry IV, Part I and II."
This isn't the only location where you can see Shakespeare's works performed. Shakespeare eventually left Stratford-upon-Avon in 1585, appearing in London in 1592. It is unknown what exactly he was doing during those missing years. Shakespeare lived, wrote, and acted in the area of London near the Thames River that became the home to the Globe Theater. This Elizabethan theater is no longer the original Globe that Shakespeare knew, as it was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in the 1600s. Despite this, the current Globe Theater is a beautiful, open-roofed circular building.
Watching Shakespeare's plays be performed is an incredible experience. His plays can be difficult to read but the actors' interpretations make the plot simple to follow. Costumes and music complete the ensemble, engaging audiences and turning them into Shakespeare fans. If you ever have the opportunity to see a play performed, I highly recommend it.
It amazes me that 450 years after Shakespeare's birth, his writing still continues to be read and performed. Students often groan at the thought of tackling a Shakespeare play in English classes but his works are timeless. His writing is unlike anything else and we are lucky that he was such a prolific writer since he left us with so many works to explore. Besides his plays, Shakespeare also wrote 154 sonnets. As part of Shakespeare's birthday celebration, the Live Canon, a group of actors, will be reciting all of the sonnets at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The writing may be old, but that hasn't stopped people from devoting their lives to it.
Besides the festivities mentioned, there are many more planned across England tomorrow and the rest of the week. As a lover of books and writing, I think it is wonderful that there are so many events, from processions to performances, in honor of a writer. It is admirable that they are recognizing an important literary figure in this magnitude. The celebrations are also encouraging reading, something important for everyone. This famous bard's influence is still upon us, and I believe he greatly deserves the birthday party England is giving him.
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