On April 23, Louisiana Tech University’s Rho Gamma Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta gathered at the Shakespeare garden in the Liberal Arts building for our biggest event of the year: the ninth annual birthday festival to celebrate the life and works of the Bard. Faculty members from the English, Theater, and History departments took the stage to commemorate William Shakespeare’s 451st birthday with presentations of the author’s many literary creations. Students read a selection of Shakespeare’s sonnets aloud throughout the day in English, French, and even Elvish.
One of my favorite parts of the festival is how it connects Louisiana Tech University to the city of Ruston itself. Local high school students join us to celebrate the birth of one of the most influential men in the literary canon. This year, students were treated to an original one-act play entitled “The First Folio,” along with original sonnets written and performed by current Tech students. Sigma Tau Delta chapter members also provided cupcakes (made with their very own hands)—it was a birthday celebration, after all!
This festival illustrates Shakespeare’s lasting influence on modern life. His works permeate every facet of today’s entertainment industry, revealing themselves in literature, music, movies, and television. One of my favorite presentations, “A Trekkie by Another Name is Still a Trekkie,” explored the vast influence of Shakespeare on the Star Trek television series and movies, from the original show to Star Trek: The Next Generation. The discussion ended with a birthday wish for Shakespeare—delivered in perfect Klingon.
Another highlight of the day was the Theater vs. English trivia contest, in which students from both departments competed to see who possessed the most Shakespearian knowledge. This year, the competitors guessed the name of a play from a limerick describing the plot. A tiebreaker proved necessary, and each contestant was given five minutes to compose his/her own limerick. Based on audience approval, the English department was deemed the victor.
The day’s final presentation was much more personal, as I joined with my fellow participants in the 2014 Tech London Study Abroad trip to share our own experiences with Shakespeare in the city in which his plays came to life. We reminisced about our journeys to Stratford-upon-Avon and the Globe Theatre and recalled our experience as groundlings at Titus Andronicus. I found it a fitting end to a day that celebrated the lasting influence of William Shakespeare’s literary genius.
Did you or your chapter celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday this year? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
Sigma Tau Delta Resources for Chapter Planning