It’s the Bard Birthday Bash!
The capstone event of the current High Country Shakespeare Celebration is the much-anticipated Bard Birthday Bash, commemorating the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare.
It is being planned as a free party for the general public, involving many of the organizations that have produced events in conjunction with the three-month celebration.
“Paying homage to the immortal Bard on the exact date of his birth in 1564 is something that the members of the High Country Theatre League wanted to do together,” said Keith Martin, HCTL founder and chair of the celebration. “Everyone felt that the birthday party should be held in a public place, and Boone Mall graciously offered to host the event.”
Mall manager Meredith Golden proposed that the HCTL use the mall’s atrium for the celebration.
“It is a perfect space for all the festivities,” Martin said.
The Bard Birthday Bash is hosted by the Boone Mall Merchants Association and takes place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23. Boone Mall is located at 1180 Blowing Rock Road (U.S. 321) in Boone. Various merchants will provide food and refreshments, along with a giant birthday cake, featuring the likeness of the Bard. The cake cutting takes place at 6 p.m., with William Shakespeare himself doing the honors, courtesy of the actors from In/Visible Theatre.
“It’s a perfect chance for folks to ‘Brush Up Their Shakespeare,’” said event organizer Bettie Bond, chair of the Friends of the Appalachian Theatre, one of the many organizations collaborating on the celebration.
In fact, that show-stopping number from Appalachian State University’s recent production of “Kiss Me, Kate” will be featured during the Bard Birthday Bash, along with excerpts from more than half a dozen plays that are part of the High Country Shakespeare Celebration.
Other theaters scheduled to perform include the Wilkes Playmakers with selections from their upcoming comedy, “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”; In/Visible Theatre’s original production of “Kill Will”; the Appalachian Women’s Theatre Troupe new work, “A Part Equal”; and Ensemble Stage of Blowing Rock’s radio drama treatment of “Macbeth,” among others. The performances may also include scenes from various Shakespeare plays performed by theater students in the Acting III class at Appalachian and excerpts from the upcoming “Sonnet Slam” by the Blue Ridge Community Theatre.
Other non-performing groups participating in the Shakespeare Celebration will also be present to preview their activities. The Southern Appalachian Historical Association and the Audubon Society, for example, will be on hand to detail plans for their “Birds of the Bard,” slated for Saturday, April 26, at the Daniel Boone Native Gardens in association with the ASU Department of Biology.
The Bard Birthday Bash is free of charge, and no advance reservations are required. Ample parking is available at Boone Mall, and the performances are appropriate for family audiences.
Organizer Bond is among many partygoers planning to wear attire appropriate to the Shakespearean era and encourages other to dress the part for the birthday bash.
From 2 to 4 p.m. the same day, Appalachian’s University Libraries will celebrate the Bard’s 450th with an open house in the Rhinehart Rare Book and Special Collection Room of Belk Library and Information Commons. Refreshments will be offered in room 421.
Greta Browning, rare book librarian, will display and answer questions regarding the university’s copy of “Holinshed’s Chronicles.”
Raphael Holinshed published his “Chronicles” in 1577; the second edition, published in 1587, was Shakespeare’s primary reference work for most of his histories and many of his other plays, including “Macbeth.” ASU’s copy is listed in the catalog online at: http://wncln.wncln.org/record=b2018714~S1.
In addition, Appalachian senior Jeremiah Miller will present a reading of his original work, “The To-and-Fro,” which is based on some less familiar aspects of Shakespeare’s life. The reading will take place at 3 p.m. in room 421.
Belk Library is located on College Street, and parking is available in campus parking decks.