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Tech celebrates the birth of The Bard

May 1, 2014

 

BRENNEN LEGE
Staff Reporter

 

It is a shame that William Shakespeare could not attend his 2014 birthday bash at Louisiana Tech University held April 23.

Students gather to celebrate the 450th birthday of Shakespeare by reciting some of his works in the GTM courtyard. –Photo by Brennen Lege

Students gather to celebrate the 450th birthday of Shakespeare by reciting some of his works in the GTM courtyard. –Photo by Brennen Lege

 

The long-dead poet would have been proud of the variety of festivities held in the inner courtyard of GTM.

 

Sigma Tau Delta hosted the celebration, which included but was not limited to: a sword fighting performance from Tech’s theater department, a Shakespearean puppet show and a Shakespeare-themed choral arrangement. Dr. John Petzet, Tech’s choir instructor, created and conducted the arrangement, which was performed by Tech’s choir.

 

In between the scheduled events, students channeled their inner-thespian urges as they took turns reading many of the 150-plus sonnets that Shakespeare wrote during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

 

“It would be tough to perform a complete play, so the short, lyric sonnets provide a nice homage to The Bard,” Scott Levin said. Levin, an English professor, was in charge of the event for the first time.

 

“My goals as a first-year organizer were simply enough not to screw anything up and try to continue the very impressive legacy that my predecessor, Dr. Dorothy Robbins, who is now in charge of the grad program in the English department, set the previous seven years,” he said.

 

A student recites her selected sonnet by the celebrated poet. –Photo by Brennan Lege

A student recites her selected sonnet by the celebrated poet. –Photo by Brennan Lege

Students also had a chance to enter an original sonnet composition tournament.

 

As the festivities came to a close, participants in the day’s activities some, including Levin, left GTM with a greater knowledge and new-found respect for the famous bard. Levin said he also learned quite a few things in his first year organizing the celebration.

 

“Shakespeare is everywhere,” Levin said. “He truly might be the best representation of all of humanity: our flaws, our emotions and our ability to connect to others, no matter how ephemeral and fragile human relations actually are.”

 

The final scheduled event was a lecture given by Renaissance scholar Dr. Andrew Tumminia from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. Tumminia addressed the misconceptions about Shakespeare’s life and work in his presentation, “Will.He.Was: Shakespearean Fact and Fiction.”

 

“Our past, present and future are derived from the past,” Tumminia said. “It’s hard to understand culture without knowing Shakespeare.”

Tech English professor Dorothy Robbins watches as the Louisiana Tech choir, conducted by John Petzet,  performs a Shakespeare-themed choral arrangement. Robbins organized the first celebration in 2007. –Photo by Brennen Lege

Tech English professor Dorothy Robbins watches as the Louisiana Tech choir, conducted by John Petzet, performs a Shakespeare-themed choral arrangement. Robbins organized the first celebration in 2007. –Photo by Brennen Lege

 

Listeners learned a few key facts about the mysterious Bard of Avon, whose personal records are mostly destroyed. When was Shakespeare born? Did he need help writing his plays? Was the bard into smoking marijuana? Tumminia answered all of those questions and a few more in his slideshow, hoping to spark interest in Shakespeare’s works. He said Shakespeare should be taught for generations to come and stressed the significance of the poet’s role in shaping modern English language. He said by teaching future generations Shakespeare’s works, people will have a deeper understanding of how many popular English phrases came to be and in turn share a connection with The Bard.

 

For those who are wondering if Shakespeare did in fact smoke pot, Tumminia concluded that research points to a resounding “no.”

 

Email comments to bsl008@latech.edu.

 

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