Celebrating Shakespeare’s 457th Birthday

April 28, 2021

By Alex Fischer '21

Friday, April 23 marked the 33rd Shakespeare Day celebration at Saint Anselm College, celebrating the Bard’s 457th birthday. Each year, the English Department welcomes students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends to join in the celebration to read all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Due to Covid-19, last year's event was entirely remote, but this year with students and staff on campus, the event was a hybrid celebration of both in person and virtual.

Professor Gary Bouchard and a student reading Shakespeare's sonnets in the Savard Welcome Center
Professor Gary Bouchard and a student read Shakespeare's sonnets in the Savard Welcome Center.

“Creating a hybrid Shakespeare Day was a logistical and technical challenge,” said  English Professor and Executive Director of the Grappone Humanities Institute Gary Bouchard, “that took a village of willing individuals to make it succeed.” Without the crucial efforts of the information technology department, the event would not have been nearly as successful; it’s support for Shakespeare Day paved the way for a successful celebration.

According to Bouchard, during this year’s hybrid celebration “we re-captured some of the enjoyment of the in-person festival, albeit without cake or a single hug to welcome back an alum from across the years.” Due to Covid-19 safety measures, in-person space was limited and participants could not be as close as they are used to being during the event.

“Still the number of alums from the variety of classes who read a sonnet, together with the number of views on the live Facebook feed, really indicates how important this annual ritual is to so many people.” 

Members of the Abbey Players cast of "Macbeth" perform a scene during the celebration.
Members of the Abbey Players cast of "Macbeth" perform a scene during the celebration.

With the most senior alumni to participate this year being from the class of 1968, as well as participation from freshmen this year, there were 56 years of Anselmians reading sonnets in celebration of Shakespeare. The event saw a total of 162 readers, including 37 alumni from 29 different graduation classes, as well as scene performances from Shakespeare’s plays, both in person and recorded, courtesy of the Abbey Players and Sociology Professor Tauna Sisco’s children.

This year’s event was dedicated to the memory of Emily Fournier ’11. An alumna who passed away last July, Fournier was not only a passionate supporter of Shakespeare Day, but a co-founder of the Recycled Shakespeare Company, a theatre troupe aimed towards making Shakespeare accessible to everyone while using ecologically sustainable theatre practices. “Being able to honor Emily Fournier and have her family with us virtually to celebrate a day that meant so much to her and to which she brought so much life—well that was indeed a sweet sorrow,” said Bouchard. She was perhaps the most enthusiastic part of Shakespeare Day, and she will be dearly missed by all.

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