Three years ago, Delaware Shakespeare celebrated the first Shakespeare Day in front of the Grand Opera House and the crowds shut down Market. This year, the company stayed out of traffic and placed their scene inside the new Chelsea Plaza -- and to that stage, community members from throughout city came to recite lines from all 38 Shakespearean plays. (Chelsea Tavern and UDairy Creamery played their own starring roles, with Chelsea’s Joe Van Horn performing a few lines and the creamery creating a special “Winter’s Tale”-themed pear-flavored ice cream, with pear pieces and a graham swirl.)
We asked Delaware Shakespeare Producing Artistic Director David Stradley whether he thought Shakespeare Day would become a annual event that first day the event came to Market…
“I literally thought we’d do this once. We started Shakespeare Day to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death back in 2016, but it was a ton of fun. And since Delaware Shakespeare does try to serve the whole state, we've rotated Shakespeare Day around the last couple years -- Dover in 2017, Rehoboth Beach last year – and brought it back to Wilmington this year.”
“The first year was just so eye-opening, realizing that this was directly related to our vision of making Delaware a place where people from all walks of life can have fun with Shakespeare, from super young kids to our senior citizens. So it’s in our wheelhouse. It's where we want to be as a company and what we think Shakespeare can do for our community.”
“Every year, we ask people to do this, they always go, 'Oh, I'm not a performer! I'm not a performer!" But then they step up on that platform and there's people staring at them and all of a sudden, we have performers!"
"Many are surprisingly grateful for the opportunity. I think for some people, it's a bucket list thing to say ‘I've performed Shakespeare.’ And some people participate just because they want to see more things like this on Market.”
“Some of our volunteers had pretty amazing stage voices. Ivan Thomas, the Rev. Edward Estevez, Alfred Lance from the City of Wilmington ... those guys had big, resonant pipes. They really claimed the stage. I’d cast them.”
“We had a Spanish translation of 'The Comedy of Errors' from a playwriting workshop we did with the Latin American Community Center a few years ago. We're always trying to shed light on the fact that Shakespeare is for everybody, and not just English speakers. Shakespeare is the most -- I don't know if this is 100% accurate but I'm going to say it anyway -- the most translated author out there. Rev. Edwin talked to his wife into during the Spanish version of 'The Comedy of Errors,' and he certainly took to the role of impassioned lover ... which sounds much, much more impassioned in Spanish than it does in English.”
“I've seen how Shakespeare can bring down walls between people who see themselves as different. More and more, as we get Shakespeare out into our community, we see that it can be a common touch point that helps us connect. Even at this event today, you heard a nice little sentiment -- 'One touch of nature makes the whole world kin' [from 'Troilus and Cressida'] -- and there was this audible sigh from the audience."
"I think we're looking as citizens, as human beings, for those points of commonality, and I've seen so viscerally how Shakespeare can provide that for us, if you go in with an open heart and you’re willing to see beyond your own perspective.”
“So I think it's going to just keep going. If it keeps growing, maybe we'll have to go to Rodney Square.”