The median age on upper campus will take a dramatic dip this week—fittingly, in celebration of William Shakespeare's birthday. Bringing nearly 2,000 southern Utah schoolchildren to campus in just two days, the Utah Shakespeare Festival is sponsoring a birthday bash for the Bard on April 25 and 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the grounds surrounding the Adam’s Shakespearean Theatre.
The Bard's Birthday Bash exposes kids across the region to the Shakespeare’s works and the Elizabethan Era through period activities, such as jousting and maypole games, cake with Queen Elizabeth I and, of course, Shakespearean performances—the schoolchildren in leading roles.
“We’ll have around 1,800 kids here from Cedar City, St. George and other southern Utah communities,” said Festival Education Director, Michael Bahr. “We’d probably have many more, but elementary school kids aren’t generally allowed to travel from greater distances.”
Like the many other education outreach programs through the Festival, the Bard’s Birthday Bash has proven to be more popular and successful than anyone imagined.
“When we began this birthday idea, our goal was to get local elementary school students acquainted with Shakespeare through their own performance of his words. That way, they find that Shakespeare is a lot easier to understand than they thought,” said Bahr. “We soon learned that not all kids wanted to perform. So, now we are inviting both performing as well as observing groups. They have cake with Queen Elizabeth, dance the maypole and learn some fun theatre games."
Proof that acclimation can go a long way in even a young student's appreciation of Shakespeare, Bahr said that many of last year's observing students came back this year as performers.