First, visit talklikeshakespeare.org and print out a copy of the Shakespeare mask.
If you don’t have time to do that, you can grab one at Sunday in the Park on April 24 at Galvez Plaza, where cast members of Playmakers of Baton Rouge’s “Twelfth Night” will be handing them out.
But the moment you cover your face with the bard’s, you will have to adopt his way of speaking. So, “you” will become “thee” or “thou,” and friends become “cousins” and bad drivers on the morning commute can be “foul lily-livered fish mongers.”
That’s the point of “Talk Like Shakespeare Day,” hosted by Playmakers in honor of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birthday.
He was born on April 23, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and penned some 38 plays, 154 sonnets and two narrative poems.
His work is so imbedded into the English language that many people don’t realize they’re already speaking Shakespeare.
“If you say, ‘Knock, knock, who’s there,’ you’re quoting from Macbeth,” says Todd Henry, Playmakers’ executive director. “We asked how we could de-mystify Shakespeare, and we’re doing it by showing everyone that they’re already speaking his monologues.”
Playmakers has taken it a step further by asking Mayor Kip Holden to declare Sunday as “Talk Like Shakespeare Day,” allowing Baton Rouge “to join the ranks of a number of cities participating in this event across the country,” says Colt Neidhardt, Playmakers’ artistic director, who spearheaded the idea. “It’s also an honor to be partnering with great local arts organizations to bring free entertainment and educational opportunities to the community.”
Participating organizations are the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, Forward Arts, LSU School of Theatre, Capitol City Grill, the Manship Theatre, and the Louisiana Renaissance Fair, all of which will provide programming from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Galvez Plaza.
In the program lineup are the Louisiana Renaissance Fair at 11 a.m., the LSU Theatre performing “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at noon, music by Soul Jukeboxx at 2 p.m., Forward Arts’ performance of original sonnets at 3:15 p.m. with Soul Jukeboxx wrapping up the day at 3:30 p.m.
Playmakers will add an exclamation mark to the event with its performance of “Twelfth Night” on April 29 in the 19th Street Studios.
Meanwhile, Capitol City Grill and the Manship Theatre will be offering such creative Shakespearian spirits as a “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “The Taming of the Shrewdriver” and the “Bloody Mary Queen of Scots” to adults.
“And we’ll be handing out the masks,” Henry says. “We’re creating an interactive section on our Facebook page, and we’re asking people to create Shakespeare situations wearing the mask and talking like Shakespeare. They can send us their videos and Instagram posts, and we’ll post them,”
Participating isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
“Shakespeare is noted as having created over 1,700 words and phrases commonly used in the English language today,” Henry says “We can thank him for coining words such as elbow, bedroom and rant, and phrases such as ‘all’s well that ends well,’ ‘with bated breath’ and ‘dead as a doornail.’ You can also go to TalkLikeShakesepeare.org to get some ideas.”
And after that? Spend the day talking like the bard. Chances are, you already are.