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Shakespeare's Birthday: Open House at Folger Shakespeare Library

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Shakespeare's Birthday: Open House at Folger Shakespeare Library

Kids enjoy birthday cake at Shakespeare's 2007 Birthday Bash

Courtesy of Folger Shakespeare Library

The bard’s birthday is indeed reason to celebrate and Folger Shakespeare Library (201 East Capitol St., SE, 202-544-7077) has created a family friendly event that your children are sure to enjoy. On Sunday, April 26, 2009 from noon to 4 p.m. all the world is a stage and Folger Shakespeare Library invites young and old to fete William Shakespeare.

Jugglers and jesters, music, song and dance, stage combat workshops, birthday cake and so much more is planned to honor William Shakespeare. It’s the one day of the year when the Folger reading rooms are open to all.

Elizabethan Fashion is the focus of the birthday party. Party goers can explore clothing worn in Elizabethan times and celebrate its influence on productions of Shakespeare plays and fashion today. You’ ll love the opportunity to step into Shakespeare's Closet to try on bumrolls, farthingales, and pumpkin pants—typical clothing of the 16th century. Or better yet, you and your little ones can be creative and come to Shakespeare’s party dressed in your own interpretation of your favorite Shakespeare character and strut your stuff down the Renaissance Runway.

And don’t miss Costumes Through the Ages, a special exhibition of production sketches and drawings from the collection, showing how Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has been interpreted over the centuries.

Birthday festivities include:

  • A cake-cutting ceremony in honor of Shakespeare presided over by Queen Elizabeth I at 3:30pm on the front lawn of the Folger.
  • Renaissance music, song, and dance throughout the Folger.
  • Shakespeare Portrait Contest with winners announced at the day's end.
  • Stories of life in 16th-century England.
  • Onstage at the Folger, Shakespeare lovers performing their own bit in "Spontaneous Shakespeare" hosted by our very own Mistress of the Revels, Cam Magee.
  • Hear the winners of this year's student Sonnet Contest.
  • Free children's activities and Elizabethan crafts, including: Shakespearean fortune-telling;quill pen writing;brooch-making; felt pendant-making;potpourri-making; and garland-making.
  • Don't miss the Folger's Secondary School Shakespeare Festival performances.
  • Tours of the reading rooms—this is the one day of the year the reading rooms are open to the public. View Flemish tapestries from the 16th Century, paintings from scenes of the Bard’s plays, and the famed "Seven Ages of Man" stained glass window.
  • Explore the Elizabethan Garden filled with plants popular in Shakespeare’s time and mentioned in his plays and Shakespeare-inspired statues by American artist Greg Wyatt. Docent-led tours plus a plant sale.
  • Scavenger Hunt available for the current exhibition in the Great Hall.

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