In last week’s column I commemorated the death of William Shakespeare 400 years ago, on April 23, 1616. The cause of the Bard’s exiting the earthly stage remains a mystery, but an entry in the diary of John Ward, the vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford, where Shakespeare is buried, may offer a clue. Ward tells us that “Shakespeare, Drayton and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting and it seems drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a fever there contracted.”
The Rev. Ward wrote his diary 50 years after Shakespeare’s passing, but his account may bear truth. In 1616 a serious outbreak of typhus, known as the “new fever,” did plague England.
“So long as men can breathe and eyes can see,/So long lives this, and this gives life to thee,” wrote Shakespeare at the
end of his Sonnet 18. Here are some examples of how William Shakespeare still gives life to us:
- A week ago, the Old Globe hosted a birthday party for Shakespeare that included games, puppet-making, a costume exhibit and — sweets for the sweet!— a Shakespearean bust birthday cake and mini cupcakes.
- This afternoon, 1-3 p.m., at the Prado in Balboa Park, the San Diego Student Shakespeare Festival will showcase more than 300 local students from 26 schools performing scenes from the Bard’s plays.
- From June 4 through July 2, the Old Globe and San Diego Public Library will co-host an exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio. You can see “the book that gave us Shakespeare” at our Central Library, the only stop in California for the tour. Leading up to the exhibit will be free public performances, film screenings and educational discussions and programs.
- Our City Ballet will be performing “Romeo and Juliet” May 6-8 at the Spreckels Theatre.
- The Globe goes global. Marking the 400 years since Shakespeare’s shuffling off his mortal coil, the Royal Shakespeare Company has started performing “Hamlet” 400 times, visiting every country around the world. The single exception is Syria, which at this time is too dangerous to enter, but the troupe will be performing at a number of refugee camps.
- To help heal the trauma of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, in Newtown, Conn., professional actors recently cast some of the surviving schoolchildren in a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
- May 2-6 marks National Teacher Appreciation Week, wherein we honor members of the most unheralded, labor intensive, multitasking, exhausting, income-challenged and rewarding of all professions.
Here’s a true story: Beth, a high school English teacher in Maine, lived with her friend Sam, an intelligent golden
retriever. One day, Beth’s mother was riding in the back seat of the car with Sam, who insisted on leaning on Mother.
Mother told Sam to “lay down and behave.” No action. Mother repeated, “Lay down, Sam.” Still no response. Then Beth commanded, “ Lie down, Sam,” and down the dog went. He was, after all, the companion of an English teacher.
After a year’s delay, it appears that New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady will have to sit out the first four games of the 2016-2017 NFL season. That’s because Brady is accused of knowing that the footballs used in the 2015 AFC championship game were purposely deflated by locker room attendants to give the Patriots an advantage.
It turns out, though, that the Patriots organization was not involved. The air in the footballs was actually let out by a
small rodent that prowled the area where the footballs were stored. That rodent used its ginormous incisors to puncture the footballs and release the air.
Johann Strauss II actually wrote a famous opera about the little beast. It’s called “Deflator Mouse.”
I often wear a bow tie, and many in my collection I’ve ordered from a Vermont company named Beau Ties. Part of the reason I like this company is the pun on beau and bow. I also admire the fact that BeauTies, when the space is eliminated, becomes Beauties !
I’ve been speaking around town about the history of the American presidency. At these events, I always wear a tie on which are emblazoned the faces of all our American presidents. Sooo . . . have you heard about the two silk worms that were racing each other? They ended up in a tie.