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Local actors celebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday

Ashley Hirtzel

Cast and crew members of Shakespeare in Delaware Park celebrated the writer’s 450th birthday Wednesday. The group read excerpts of the William Shakespeare’s sonnets, monolouges and plays all day in honor of his legacy.

Managing Director of Shakespeare in Delaware Park Lisa Ludwig says their mission is to keep Shakespeare’s works alive for years to come.

“People are really daunted by reading Shakespeare, but the thing about Shakespeare is, it’s meant to be seen and heard. I think that’s my passion about Shakespeare in Delaware Park is people of all demographics can come and see it for free. It’s sometimes their first experience to go, ‘Oh now I get it’. I think there’s something for everyone in each one and I think it’s important for everyone to see Shakespeare and not be daunted by reading the text,” said Ludwig.

Shakespeare in Delaware Park founder Saul Elkin says in order for people capture the essence of Shakespeare’s work, they have to see it performed.

"The plays have survived for 450 years. They speak to us every bit as clearly as they spoke to his audience all those years ago," Elkin said. "The evidence is that when you go to the park and see the plays we perform there, frequently there and children and young people, people who have had no experience with Shakespeare, who understand fully what is going on."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, along with other local lawmakers and leaders, stopped by the celebration to read a passage written by Shakespeare. Poloncarz says the themes in Shakespeare’s works are still relevant today.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
Actor with Shakespeare in Delaware Park reading an excerpts from William Shakespeare's works.

“Maybe we’re not dealing with kings and queens, but we do deal with love, loss, and we deal with power grabs by politicians and alike. So, the things that happened in Shakespeare times aren’t really different from where we are today. We may be a lot more technologically advanced, but we still have the same issues. I think it’s important for young people to see that and to learn from it, that what you can read from Shakespeare you can learn a lot about human nature and what’s right and what’s wrong,” said Poloncarz.

Poloncarz says it’s crucial to continue to support Shakespeare in Delaware Park. He says he believes the free theatrical productions are one of the county’s greatest assets.

Shakespeare in Delaware Park reaches over 40,000 people each season. The line-up for its 39th season of free shows was also announced during the event. Henry V will begin running on June 19- July 13 and The Comedy of Errors will be on stage starting on July 23-August 16.