Last week Chicago mayor Richard Daley proclaimed April 23, the 445th birthday of William Shakespeare, to be Talk Like Shakespeare Day throughout the city. On Thursday residents of Chicago are encouraged to incorporate phrases such as "prithee," "thou," "fie!" and "knave" into their everyday conversations as a way to celebrate the lasting influence of the Bard and his work.
The Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which is one of over two hundred theater companies in Chicago and the sponsor of an annual celebration of Shakespeare's birthday, has created the Web site talklikeshakespeare.org as a guide for Thursday's vocal tribute. The site features a blog for readers to share their favorite quote or "Shakespeariance," audio files and videos of Shakespeare performances, a quiz, activities for incorporating the Bard at the office, and a ten-point guide to speaking like Shakespeare ("Instead of cursing, try calling your tormenters jackanapes or canker-blossoms or poisonous bunch-back’d toads"; "When in doubt, add the letters 'eth' to the end of verbs"; and "To add weight to your opinions, try starting them with methinks, mayhaps, in sooth or wherefore.")
Shakespeare is believed to have been born on April 23, 1564, but the only date on record is his baptism, which was performed on April 26 of that year. Last month Stanley Wells, chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, unveiled what he claims is the only portrait of Shakespeare painted during the playwright's lifetime. Two other portraits, familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in the Bard's work, were painted after his death, on April 23, 1616.