Community invited to celebrate Shakespeare at 400

‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.’

— William Shakespeare

To celebrate the life and cannon of the great English poet William Shakespeare, next week, the Lewes Public Library will be hosting a litany of events marking the 400th anniversary of his death.

“A few months ago, somebody said, ‘Hey, it would be really fun to do this dinner in the stacks, and we could make it Shakespeare-themed.’ We thought, we already have the Shakespeare performance and the fact that this year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death,” recalled Rebecca Lowe, volunteer coordinator at the Lewes Public Library. “We thought we’d turn it into a whole Shakespeare week.”

For the week of Sept. 12-17, six Shakespeare-themed events will take place as part of Shakespeare400, inside and outside of the library.

To kick off the week of events, on Monday, Sept. 12, two free “Shakespeare: Page to Stage” workshops will be held at the library.

“Brown Box has always done the two workshops for us. Those are going to be on Monday. One is for teens, and one is for adults. My daughter always does the teen one, and they’re super-fun. They do acting, it’s very physical — getting up and moving around. Not so much in the adult one — it’s more of a discussion. That one is going to be really neat, because the director is going to come and talk to the group.”

The adult workshop will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. and will be led by Brown Box Theater Project Artistic Director Kyler Taustin. Lowe said the workshop will be an interactive discussion on acting Shakespeare using the text “Cymbeline, King of Britain.”

The teen workshop will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. for those 12 or older. Participants in both workshops are being encouraged to read “Cymbeline.” While both workshops are free, each is limited to 30 participants, and pre-registration is required.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 2 p.m., the Rehoboth Beach Film Society will present the 2015 film “Macbeth,” starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.

“One of our committee members goes to the Rehoboth Beach Film Society; she’s good friends with them and we’ve partnered with them on different library events… There’s this wonderful movie performance of ‘Macbeth’ with Michael Fassbender, and they asked if they would show it for our Shakespeare400 week,” said Lowe. “It’s award-winning, it’s fabulous, it’s beautiful. It’s one of the best film productions of any Shakespeare play.”

The film will be shown at the Cinema Art Theater in Lewes, with admission costing $9 per person.

On Wednesday, Sept. 14, a free public lecture will be given by Dr. William Zak, a retired professor of English from Salisbury University, at the library. The lecture, “Will’s Wonders Never Cease,” will be followed by an audience discussion.

On Thursday, Sept. 15, community members can travel to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Tickets for the trip cost $40 per person, which includes coach bus transportation, lunch and a tour of the library. Following the tour of the library, attendees will have the opportunity to visit the Library of Congress or take a guided tour of the U.S. Capital, courtesy of U.S. Sen. Tom Carper’s office.

“It’s really a value for $40, to head over to D.C.,” said Lowe.

Thursday’s bus trip is scheduled to depart at 7:30 a.m. from the Lewes Lowe’s Home Improvement parking lot, and return by 6 p.m. that same evening.

“What’s really interesting is there’s a woman named Andrea Mays who wrote a book [‘The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio] about the founder of the Folger, the person who gathered all of the Shakespeare Folios together. She’ll actually speaking at the library in November about that,” she added.

Friday, Sept. 16, from 6 to 9:30 p.m., literary foodies are being invited to enjoy “Shakespeare in the Stacks” with a wine and family-style dinner catered by Fork + Flask at Nage, in the Lewes Public Library.

“They do great food,” said Lowe of Nage. “The tables that are set up are all going to be Shakespeare-themed. They’ll be named after different plays. We’ve been working with a florist to come up with a Shakespeare look to the different flowers.”

During dinner, the New Faces of Shakespeare, an acting troupe out of Possum Point Players in Georgetown, will be performing traveling vignettes during dinnertime.

“So, when you sit down for dinner, different groups of one, two or three actors will come up and perform a scene for you. Then they’ll rotate through to the different tables. They’re hoping to get somewhere between six to 10 scenes.”

There will also be a live auction that evening, with proceeds benefitting the library.

“We have artwork donated by three artists, one of whom is Steve Rogers. They’re local artists who have donated pieces for us to auction off,” she said.

And, Will himself will be making a special appearance… in a manner of speaking.

“We also have a life-size cutout of William Shakespeare that we’re going to auction off as well,” she said with a laugh. “Right when you walk into the library, we have a Shakespeare display set up, and we have this life-size William Shakespeare. He’s been hanging out, greeting people when they walk into the library, so we’ll be auctioning him off.”

Tickets for the dinner cost $125 per person and are available at the library.

“The dinner benefits the new library. It’s actually the first major event we’re holding here since we opened, and we’re hoping to make it an annual event if it takes off.”

To culminate Shakespeare400, on Saturday, Sept. 17, Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline, King of Britain” will be performed by Brown Box Theatre Project on the lawn behind the library at 7:30 p.m. The performance is free and open to the public.

“Every year for the past four years, we have hosted Brown Box Theatre, which comes and does a Shakespeare in the Park performance,” said Lowe. “They take a very interesting approach to Shakespeare. Their staging can be very modern, avant garde. You always think, ‘Wow, why did they do it that way?’ Sometimes it’s very traditional.”

As the performance is outdoors (unless there is inclement weather, which will move the performance into the library’s meeting room) Lowe recommended patrons come prepared.

“It is outdoors, so you’ll need to bring a blanket or a lawn chair, something to sit on.”

As Shakespeare wrote, “Come, and take choice of all my library,” so, too, said Lowe of the Lewes Public Library’s offerings for Shakespeare400 and year-round.

For more information about the Lewes Public Library’s Shakespeare400 events, to purchase tickets for the Folger trip or Shakespeare in the Stacks dinner, or to pre-register for the workshops, call (302) 645-2733.