Happy Birthday to Thee!

Shakespeare has been getting some major nerd love lately, with Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss appearing in the National Theater’s production of Coriolanus and with recent news that Benedict Cumberbatch will play Hamlet on the stage next year. As the celebration of his 450th birthday (April 23) approaches, I thought I’d come up with a few nerdy ways to celebrate!

1. Cupcakes (Or any sugary awesomeness)

Every April 23, I bring my students cupcakes and we sing “Happy Birthday.” The tradition started many years ago when a very vocal colleague claimed that the Oxfordian Theory was the only theory about Shakespeare that a true intellectual could believe. I decided to shut him up by bringing birthday cupcakes on April 23 for my students and sending him one. I know these kind of discussions usually only happen in English hallways of schools, but take some sweets to your work in honor of a
long dead English playwright, and people will remember. Trust me.


2. Doctor Who- “The Shakepseare Code”

A lost play by Shakespeare? Check. A sly wink at Shakespeare’s rumored bisexuality? Check. The swooniest Shakespeare with a full head of hair and scruffy, sexy beard? Check. Oh, and did I mention David Tennant? This episode of Doctor Who is such a clever one, and a great way to honor the bard. And speaking of David Tennant…


3. David Tennant, aka Shakespearean God

Tennant has played Hamlet and Richard II, which are truly remarkable roles. But I was so happy to stumble upon his role as the quick-witted Benedict who is in love with the equally sharp Beatrice in the play Much Ado About Nothing. But what makes this interpretation really amazing? Beatrice is played by…Catherine Tate! The Doctor and Donna playing Benedict and Beatrice? Yes, please.


4. Nathan Fillion in Iambic Pentameter

If you didn’t see Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, you need to…now. Have fun seeing all those characters from the Whedoniverse spout hilarious lines in iambic pentameter. While all the Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and Avengers alum do a fantastic job, the honors go to Nathan Fillion. Watch and try not to fall in love with him more than you probably are.


5. Shakespeare’s Star Wars

These books by Ian Doescher take the scripts of the Star Wars movies and translates them into Shakespearean verse, with rhyme and iambic pentameter. The first two books are out now with the third, The Jedi Doth Return, will be out this July. Here’s a sampling:

Leia: I would as eagerly kiss Wookie’s lips.
Han: That can arrangèd be. By heaven’s breath, A kiss would suit thee well!

Nerdy perfection.


6. Dear Juliet…

If you have the opportunity to go visit Verona, channel your inner Romantic and go! You can see Juliet’s balcony, take a tour of the house, touch the Juliet sculpture for luck in love, and see the thousands of love letters that have been left with gum, tape, and post-it notes. Usually I hate graffiti, but I kind of overlook it here, as most of it is messages of love and hearts and names of those in love. But if you don’t want to deface a public building or make your private love letter public, you can always write to Juliet for advice or telling her about your love life. Believe it or not, you will get a response from one of the several secret volunteers who answer in Juliet’s name. My students wrote to her, and even though it took nearly eight months to get a reply, they all did, as well as stickers and postcards. Worth the price of the stamp.

Her address is :
Club di Giulietta
via Galilei 3 – 37133 Verona ITALY


Happy Birthday, Will! Thanks for your wondrous words and wit. Do you have any plans to celebrate Shakespeare’s special day? Let’s hear them!


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