Born in 1564, Shakespeare would’ve turned 451 years old as he bore witness to Ferris State’s English department’s festival honoring his life, which was held on April 23rd in the University Center.
While the small stage setup on the lower level of the UC pales in comparison to London’s Globe Theatre, which is where many of Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed, it proved to be a serviceable replacement for Shakespeare enthusiasts.
Five students within the English department, consisting of Brett Bohan, Isaac Wilson, Tyree Reed, Kathleen Koomen and Molly Vanderwest, donned costumes to enact the final scene of Othello.
In this scene, Othello kills both his lover Desdemona, and himself. However, the performance remained suitable for all audiences, since no real props were used to act out the gruesome scene.
“It was kind of a laid back form of acting, since we were still on script. We didn’t have props, but we dressed up and met a couple of times to go over it. Still, it wasn’t intense rehearsal or anything,” Bohan said.
The festival also opened the stage to outsiders, and a table of complimentary cupcakes influenced several bystanders to step up and recite pieces of Shakespeare’s library.
“Some people from the crowd prepared their favorite sonnet, or their favorite soliloquy. [Professor] Middleton did a scene, and a couple did the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, plus there were a few others,” Bohan said.
While Bohan stresses that there was a satisfactory turnout for the event, prior obligations prevented many English department students from volunteering to act in the event.
“We were actually going to do the murder scene from Julius Caesar too, but we didn’t end up having enough people to put it on, so we cut it.”
Bohan also insists that the pun in the previous statement was incidental.
The event is held annually on Shakespeare’s birthday, with its purpose being to both promote Shakespeare’s works, and to demonstrate that the English department does have a presence on campus.
In order to add my own voice to the festival, I’ve adjusted Shakespeare’s famed Sonnet 18 to more accurately describe the frigid weather that plagued Big Rapids on the day of the event.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Though art more chilly, I’m more desperate
To reach a warm place to hide away,
For the warmth of summer seems to be on delay