What ho! Anon! Recycled Shakespeare Company is planning a big party for its 10th Annual Bard’s Birthday Bash on Saturday, April 22 and you are invited.
RSC founders: the late Emily Rowden Fournier, Aaron Blaschke Rowden, and Lyn Rowden started the Bash in 2014 for the 450th birthday of the great William Shakespeare (April 23, 1564 – April 23, 1616). When they began they only planned on the one birthday, but the party kept on – even when held creatively using Zoom and recordings from all over the world in 2020 – 21.
This year is also special because it is the 400th anniversary of the printing of Shakespeare’s First Folio seven years after his death in 1623. It preserved what was known of his 36 plays, many of which had never been printed and is still considered the most reliable text, as well as one of the most influential books ever published.
The Bard’s Birthday Bash begins with the Sonnet Stroll through downtown Waterville. Costumed members of RSC and anyone who wants to join them will gather at Camden National Bank at 9am to recommence the reading of all 154 sonnets interspersed with monologues and songs from his plays. The stroll continues to Yardgoods Center and The Villager Restaurant and pauses at Waterville Public Library at 10am where librarians and others will join in the readings. Then on to Re-Books where owner Robert Sezack will enthrall readers with his selections outside his storefront as he has every year. A stop in at Greene-Block Studios, and then it is on to the Silver Street sidewalk in front of Cancun Restaurant where ardent supporter Representative Colleen Madigan will join in the readings. Try your hand at period weaponry with a Sword Fight Demonstration at 11am led by stage combat artist Joshua Fournier.
Simultaneously, RSC Chorus will be bringing Shakespeare’s songs to the patrons of Front/Main Restaurant, led by Joshua Bickford on mandolin who wrote all original music to Shakespeare’s words. They will be performing in various locations throughout the day and everyone is welcome to sing along.
Continuing up Main Street the stroll will be visiting The Framemakers, and Incense and Peppermints, entertaining diners at Holy Cannoli, having readers from Days Jewelers join is as they have every year, and stop at Waterville Creates at the new Paul J. Schupf Art Center.
At 1pm gather to buy lunch at Jin Yuan as readers from across the nation will join by recordings or Zoom to add to the festivities. At that time Aaron and Heather Rowden who now reside in California will be delivering their annual hilarious surprise contribution.
From 2:30 to 5pm join the crowd at Selah Tea to relax with tea and goodies to more entertainment or even get up and read – no experience required. Bobbie McGee at Selah Tea has supported this project from its inception, and it is now the tradition for everyone to read Sonnet 154 out loud together there. RSC and Waterville are honored to have over 65 readers from the arts, theater, government, and business, as well as friends and visitors from near and far.
At 6 pm Waterville Mayor Jay Coelho will kick off the annual Masquerade Ball held until 9pm at the Greene Block + Studios. Elizabethan dances will be led and taught to all – with free birthday cake, of course. As with the rest of the celebration, costumes are welcome and add to the fun but are not required. Anyone of any age can learn these simple dances and no partners are necessary.
Thanks to the generosity of several donors and many volunteers, the day’s activities are free, open and accessible to all so please invite your friends and spread the word! Huzzah!
At last year’s Sonnet Stroll readers gather with Robert Sezack (Center kneeling with cap in hand) at Re-Books in Waterville to read sonnets as part of the annual Bard’s Birthday Bash. Contributed Photo.