On His 400th, 40 Modern Ways to Appreciate Shakespeare

By Newmark, Judith | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), April 15, 2016 | Go to article overview

On His 400th, 40 Modern Ways to Appreciate Shakespeare


Newmark, Judith, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


This month, William Shakespeare's 400th anniversary is being celebrated all around the world.

What anniversary is a little less clear.

Shakespeare was baptized at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford- upon-Avon on April 26, 1564. He died on April 23, 1616. Since we don't know exactly when he was born but guess that it was a little before the baptism, it's become popular to regard April 23 as his birthday, too.

But no matter what day is what, 400 years is a long time a time in which Shakespeare's reputation has grown ever-brighter. The author of 38 plays, four narrative poems and 154 sonnets, Shakespeare is still quoted, studied, performed and enjoyed.

In this anniversary month, there's lots to celebrate. Some things are good to celebrate all the time beautiful poetry, indelible characters, great plays. There are also lots of special events; most of the ones listed here are part of Shake 38.

A project by Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Shake 38 is a community festival that artistic director and executive producer Rick Dildine launched in 2010. Theater troupes and co-workers, actors and kids, all kinds of people all around town present their versions of each of Shakespeare's plays.

The events some traditional, some pretty offbeat are free and open to the public. This year it runs Tuesday through April 23.

With all that in mind, here are some Shakespearean things to see, do or think about 40 of them to mark the big 400.

1. Affton High performs "Romeo and Juliet: The Speed Version": It's said to clock in at under a minute. 10 a.m. Tuesday at the south entrance to the St. Louis Zoo. Lots of school groups are involved in Shake 38; for a complete schedule of the events, school and otherwise, visit sfstl.com.

2. Shake 38's big kickoff: A wine-and-cheese party with a photo exhibit, a short film and some live cooing and yelling all of it inspired by "Antony and Cleopatra." 8 p.m. Tuesday at Barnett on Washington, 3207 Washington Boulevard.

3. Where is Shakespeare's skull? Perhaps not in his grave. In March, Reuters reported that British archaeologists, using radar, examined the grave and discovered something was not showing up. Grave-robbing goes back centuries, so a solution to the mystery seems unlikely.

4. Shakespeare makes a great workout partner: Enjoy a zumba workout with a dash of "Henry V," courtesy of fitness guru King Ausar. 8 a.m. Wednesday at Zuka Gallery, 2701 North 14th Street.

5. The First Folio: In 1623, Shakespeare's friends published a collection of his plays, called the First Folio. It included 18 plays, among them "Macbeth" and "The Tempest." Without the First Folio, Dildine says, they could have been lost forever.

6. The Bard's book tour: To mark the quadricentennial, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the National Foundation for the Humanities are sending a copy of the Folio on a nationwide tour. But it makes only one Missouri stop, in Kansas City. Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is sponsoring a trip to see it on June 18, led by Dildine along with Ted and Lana Pepper. The trip, by deluxe coach bus, costs $55. And you'll be back at Forest Park in time to see "A Midsummer Night's Dream." For more information, check with Rose Wolownik at the festival (314-531-9800, Ext. 101; rwolownik@sfstl.com).

7. "Merry Wives" in the modern world: Teatro Nuevo fashions "The Merry Wives of Tinder" (instead of Windsor) for the age of online dating. 6 p.m. Wednesday at Milque Toast Bar, 2212 South Jefferson Avenue.

8. Angelo vs. The Donald: Poor Monsters, an all-female troupe that's performed at St. Lou Fringe, has a modern adaptation of "Measure for Measure." It's based on their observation that Angelo sounds a lot like Donald Trump. And yes, Angelo is the villain. 7 p.m. Wednesday at New Wildwood Valley Gardens inside Bellefontaine Cemetery, 4947 West Florissant Avenue.

9. Actors love him: Half a dozen reasons why actors love Shakespeare: Hamlet. …

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