Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

Back when I was an English teacher in a big high school in Burnaby, my friend Jen and I used to do a ‘Shakespeare’s Birthday’ week. We dressed up as Elizabethan ladies, talked in (hammy) Shakespearean English, and gave prizes to kids who could recite lines of Shakespeare. On his actual birthday, we gave out cake. It was all good fun.

The best part was the after school movies. In Jen’s room (I was a ‘gypsy teacher’, itinerant, as there weren’t enough classrooms for me to have one of my own), we showed movies of Shakespeare’s plays, and of adaptations like “Ten Things I Hate About You.” We ferried bags of popcorn from the bookroom microwave across the hall and Jen and I sat at the back of the class, marking (And perving on Heath Ledger, but doesn’t everyone?).

We were surprised at the turnouts at the movies. One student, Kate, never missed one, even the crappy ones. She LOVED Shakespeare Week. Dressed up, was linguistically more competent in archaic language than either Jen or myself, and could recite seven sonnets from memory.

Long after she graduated, I ran into her. We started talking about how much fun we’d had with ‘Willy Week’. She said, “Those were the times, in that school, when I felt like I wasn’t a freak. Because the cool teachers were doing it. How could I be a freak?”

Kate of Kate Hall, Most Comestible of Kates, bless you. I hope all is well.

1 Comment to “Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!”

  1. By Arwen, April 25, 2006 @ 12:07 am

    Happy birthday.

    You know, in my sage feed, this showed up:

    Happy Birthday, William Sha…

    And my brain filled in Shatner.

    Hmmm.

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