'Dramatic day' in Wilmington as Delaware Shakespeare Day returns to the city

Midday visitors and workers in downtown Wilmington were treated to a free performance Tuesday on the 455th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare.

It was also the date of his death, but The Bard's life and enduring popularity were celebrated at Delaware's fourth Shakespeare Day, presented by organizers of the annual Delaware Shakespeare Festival.

"I love Shakespeare, I love Delaware, so I love Delaware Shakes," Rabbi Michael Beals exclaimed as he wore a floppy feathered hat for the occasion. 

What does he love about Shakespeare?

"I love that speaks to people of all walks, all types of life. He inspires creativity and excitement," Beals said.

Shakespeare Day returned to Wilmington for the first time since its inaugural occasion in 2016. It was held in Dover two years ago and in Rehoboth Beach in 2018.

In the plaza between Chelsea Tavern and UD Creamery - which blended a special ice cream for the occasion - participants read lines from each of Shakespeare's 38 plays. Members of the audience would try to guess the play.

 "We try to get people from all walks of life to come up and have fun with their 15 seconds of Shakespearean glory," Delaware Shakespeare Producing Artistic Director David Stradley said.

In addition to the popular summer Shakespeare Festival at Rockwood Park - this year presenting The Merry Wives of Windsor - Delaware Shakespeare also brings performances to prisons, homeless shelters, community centers and other locations.

"I think the great thing about Shakespeare is that once you really start digging down into the plays, you realize he's writing about issues and concerns that are just as important to us now as they were 400 years ago," Stradley said.

One reader, Sarah Willoughby, changed one word in her passage to "Wilmington." That makes sense, since she is Executive Director of the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau.

She was happy to see the lunchtime crowds turn out.

"It's great to see them taking it out of the buildings and bringing it to the street," Willoughby said.

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.