‘Suzana and Shakespeare have the same home town,” said Scott Kirk, explaining why he and his wife, Janeidi, moved from Brazil to Stratford-upon-Avon in England last April.
That’s the little town where their daughter, Suzana Araujo Kirk, was born on December 17 a few blocks from the house where William Shakespeare was born 450 years ago on April 23. He is the poet and playwright regarded as the greatest writer in the English language.
Shakespeare’s sister Joan is Suzana’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmother. Kirk and about 300 others related to Joan are the only people alive today who have family ties to Shakespeare. (Shakespeare had three children — one of them named Susanna — and four grandchildren, but no direct descendants beyond them.)
“That makes Shakespeare Suzana’s uncle, 14 generations later,” said Kirk with a laugh. Kirk wanted his daughter to share a birthplace with Shakespeare, but the family didn’t plan to live in England for long. The Kirks returned to the United States last month to live in Boca Raton, Florida, where Suzana’s mom is in school.
“We’ll have a little candle for Shakespeare for his birthday,” he said. “Suzana can help us blow it out.”
The world will do a lot more to remember the author of “Romeo & Juliet,” “Macbeth,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” “Hamlet” and 34 other plays written by Shakespeare. Libraries, colleges and schools across America are planning something in honor of Shakespeare; maybe your school will have a party and have students put on costumes from Shakespeare’s era or read from his plays or poems.
If so, you won’t be alone.
The British Broadcasting Corporation estimates that nearly half of the world’s 1.9 billion children age 14 and younger will at some point study Shakespeare in school, or see his plays on television or at the movies, or read about him and his plays in books and even in comic books and manga. Shakespeare has been translated into every living language on Earth, the BBC says.
One of the best places to celebrate Shakespeare is at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, a world-famous research center on Shakespeare, with lots of books and other materials from Shakespeare’s time. The Folger also has a theater built to look like the ones Shakespeare knew centuries ago.
Check it out Sunday, when the Folger celebrates “the Bard” — that’s a name scholars give to Shakespeare — with a free festival for kids and grown-ups. There will be face painting, arts and craft projects, jugglers and dancers, acting lessons, pretend sword fighting and birthday cake for all.
A group called the Nickel Shakespeare Girls will perform one-minute versions of Shakespeare’s plays.
Scott Kirk doesn’t hesitate to use one of his ancestor’s famous lines to explain why he made the temporary move to England.
“All the world is a stage, you know,” said Kirk, quoting from the play “As You Like It.” “Now little Suzana can play her part.”
The Folger Shakespeare Library celebrates the poet and playwright year-round, but there are special events planned for Shakespeare’s birthday.
●On Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., the library will host an open house with games, jugglers, singing, dancing, sword-fight lessons, a birthday cake, a Shakespeare impersonator and more. 201 East Capitol Street SE. Free, rain or shine. A parent can call 202-544-4600 or go to www.folger.edu/
●A Shakespeare in Action Workshop for families will be held April 19, 9:30 a.m. to noon, with lessons, games, crafts, performances and refreshments. $35 for one adult and one child, then $10 for each additional child. Registration required.
●Year-round Folger programs include Saturday workshops for kids and families.
The library’s Web site has a “Just for Kids” page, with games and art projects, at www.
shakespeareinamericanlife.org/kids/index.cfm. (Best viewed in Chrome or Firefox.)