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In Pittsburgh, to celebrate Shakespeare or not is the question on 450th celebration

| Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 6:49 p.m.
Courtesy of Prime Stage Theatre
William Shakespeare
New Place Collaborations
Yvonne Hudson, aka Mrs. Shakespeare, at the tower door at the Tower of London

If there's a shortage of birthday candles this month, William Shakespeare may be to blame.

On April 23, the Elizabethan poet and playwright will turn 450 and area admirers are planning celebrations.

In actuality, there's no official record of his birth. But church records indicate he was baptized April 26, 1564, and historians settled April 23, so his birthday would coincide with St. George's Day.

That ambiguity also allows celebrants the leeway to extend events over a larger period of time.

Here's some of the events planned locally:

• Prime Stage Theatre will honor Shakespeare's 450th birthday with “Shakespeare Unleashed,” an evening of swordplay and performances of some seldom-heard Shakespearean monologues and scenes.

An offering of 2nd Stage at Prime Stage, the evening begins at 7:30 p.m. April 18 at Max's Allegheny Tavern, 537 Suismon St., North Side. A discussion with cast and director follows.

Seating is limited. Admission is $15, in advance only.

Details: 724-773-0700 or

• On his official birth date, Poets Corner, a local group that celebrates the work of poets and writers, will pay tribute to Shakespeare at the Victorian Chapel, Calvary United Methodist Church, 971 Beech St., North Side.

Beginning at 7:15 p.m. April 23, actors and Shakespeare enthusiasts will perform Shakespeare's poetry as well as songs and soliloquies from his plays. The goal of the evening is to read all of the Bard's 154 sonnets before the night's out.

Audience members can help realize that goal by signing up to share a favorite sonnet. If interested, send an email to A reception with birthday cake will follow the performance.

Admission is pay-what-you-can to benefit Poets Corner. Donations of 1-pound nonperishable food items will be accepted at this “reading for feeding,” a tradition at Poets Corner that benefits the Northside Food Pantry.

Details: 412-512-0589 or

• At 12:15 p.m. April 23, join Mrs. Shakespeare for a brief tribute to the Bard. It's an annual event created by Yvonne Hudson, who often portrays Mrs. Shakespeare in a one-woman stage show.

As Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, Hudson will host a 20-minute performance of songs, sonnets and flowers at the Shakespeare statue outside Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. The open-air event is free and will occur rain or shine.

Details: 412-512-0589 or

• Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks will organize its April “Bring Your Own Bard” event around the theme “Shakespeare's Star Wars — Moving the Bard Into the Future!”

Now in its 10th season, Pittsburgh Shakespeare's monthly, informal evening offers scenes and readings at which actors, theater fans and Bard buffs perform or read a scene or go solo with a monologue, sonnet or song.

Extra readings are supplied for those who may choose to join in as the evening progresses. Those who prefer to cast themselves in the role of audience member also are welcome.

Doors open at 7:15 p.m. April 28 and readings begin at 7:30 p.m. at Té Cafe, 2000 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill.

Suggested donation is $10 at the door. Donations benefit the company's annual admission-free production.

Those interested in reading should contact or 412-521-6406

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or

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