William Shakespeare turned 451 on Thursday, April 23 and to celebrate the Bard's birthday, The Drilling Company's Shakespeare in the Parking Lot ensemble and Bryant Park Shakespeare took over Bryant Park for the second year in a row with "Shakespeare's Birthday Bash" from 12:30 to 2:30. An energetic, two-hour collection of live performances and participatory events were offered, all free to the public.
Peppering the park from 12:30 to 1:00 PM, a "Shakespearean Flash Mob" of over fifty actors from The Drilling Company performed excerpts from every play in the Shakespeare Canon. Performers included Robert Agis, Vanessa Altshuler, Marlain Angelides, Ivory Aquino, Ella Dershowitz, Adit Dilep, Lauren Downie, Tori Ernst, Noelle Franco, Lauriel Friedman, Ziv Gidron, Sara Glancy, Andrew Gombas, Tygar Hicks, Luke Hoffmaier, Kelsie Jepsen, Meg Kiley Smith, Kineta Kunutu, Amanda Lederer, Michaela Lind, Dave Marantz, Iris McQuilla-Grace, Tom McVey, Zlatomir Moldovanski, Michael Sazonov, John Smiley, Jack Sochet, Drew Valins, Ryan Ward, Grace Winchester and Katie Zaffran.
On the Fountain Terrrace Stage from 1:00 to 1:30, Shakespearean song stylings were performed with vocals and string instruments by Thicket & Thistle, a NYC-based folk band and writing/performance collective which focuses on devising new works which interweave theater and original music. The ensemble is led by Jonathan Eric Foster, Artistic Director and Sarah George, Managing Director and includes company members Kyle Acheson, Sam De Roest, Nyssa Duchow and Corley Pillsbury.
On the Fountain Terrace Stage from 1:30 to 2:00, audience members won free T-shirts by grabbing a microphone and reading a Shakespearean speech aloud.
Througout the event, on the Fountain Terrace, a Shakespeare's Birthday Banner was raised for all to enjoy. You could write your own sonnet or favorite Shakespearean quotation, or inscribe your own birthday greeting, on a large scrolling banner. Messages from last year's attendees were on display in what is becoming an installation of perennial contributions from New York aficianados.
Bryant Park's food service kiosks were a source of noshes for this delightfully complete Midtown lunchtime diversion.