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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shakespeare's Birthday Party

I hope that someone will be celebrating my birthday 450 years from now, though Shakespeare may not have expected this kind of fete: On April 23, Villanova's English Department, under the leadership of the wonderful Dr. Alice Dailey, celebrated Shakespeare's 450th birthday with a book-shaped cake, a Hamlet-inspired student film, and Shakespearean door prizes such as Hamlet finger puppets.

A surprisingly large and energetic crowd filled the Old Falvey Library Reading Room, where a large screen held a projection of Dr. Dailey's "@Shakespeare" live tweets, and a birthday cake for Shakespeare sat next to birthday-cake flavored Oreos. This party whimsically assumed that Shakespeare would be quite caught up on both technology and 20th century desserts had he managed to live long enough. Old-fashioned readings of favorite passages were presented alongside a student film that, in a postmodern, non-chronological way, explored the what-ifs in Hamlet's transposition into a student dorm with Tarantino posters on the wall. The party game that had everyone engaged was a lively round of "Shakespeare or Batman?" with the Bard's most cynical quotations going up against Batman's philosophical musings and creative metaphors.

I left Shakespeare's birthday party with rich, heavy cake inside me and a Hamlet finger puppet on my finger - Gertrude, Hamlet's mom (pre-revenge, based on the lack of blood). I had a new sense of Shakespeare's relevance: his translation into a postmodern, technological, artificial-flavor-loving age was greeted with enthusiasm by a room full of Twitter-literate undergrads. I have high hopes that our fun today will translate into a richer understanding and a deeper affection for his works, and maybe a few more tweets to @Shakespeare.

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