William Shakespeare entered and exited the world on the same date: April 23. This past weekend, the Folger Shakespeare Library commemorated the 400th anniversary of his death (1616-2016), but we also threw him a big birthday party as we do every year. It’s a beloved annual tradition at the Folger, in part because it also marks our own birthday: The Folger opened on April 23, 1932.
Shakespeare’s birthday party began at noon on Sunday, April 24. The sky was blue, the sun was shining… what’s that? The sound of trumpets? The U.S. Army Fife and Drum Corps marched onto the Folger front lawn to kick off the festivities.
Swords! Halberds! Stage combat demonstrations by Casey Kaleba and Tooth & Claw Combat Arts are a highlight for many at the birthday celebration each year.
Inside the Folger’s Elizabethan theater, it was all about Shakespeare: reading lines from his plays and staging scenes. Reduced Shakespeare Company also made a special appearance.
Kids dressed up in Elizabethan costumes, watched a Shakespeare puppet show in the garden, constructed shields, wrote with quills, and did other crafts throughout the day.
What better way to end a birthday party than with cake? Queen Elizabeth I did the cake-cutting honors. This year was Shakespeare’s 452nd birthday, but we put a 400 on the cakes to honor the 400th anniversary of his death.
Thank you to everyone who came, and see you next year! Find more photos from Shakespeare’s birthday party on Flickr.
All photos by Tracy Russo.