My friends, fellow Omahans, lend me your ear
T'morrow don you the face of Shakespeare
If thou speakest as the Bard once doth
Then thou might get free scones or more stuff.
Talk like Shakespeare tomorrow and get goodies.
Or do it — “it” being to talk, tweet, sing, dress or otherwise celebrate the Bard — just because.
Because the language, arcane as it may be, is still alive four centuries later.
Because his 38 plays and 154 sonnets are so brilliant and timely and human: Love! Revenge! Ambition!
Because an arts student in Chicago had an idea five years ago that spread and spread and spread.
So that now this student has become a theater director in Arkansas, and this event — Talk Like Shakespeare Day — has reached Nebraska.
Gov. Dave Heineman issued a proclamation declaring Tuesday, Shakespeare's 449th birthday, as such. Omaha schools have been urged to announce this on the intercom. A number of Omaha businesses are offering freebies or slashed prices.
Nebraska Shakespeare, an Omaha nonprofit that annually produces the summertime Shakespeare on the Green, has adopted Talk Like Shakespeare Day from the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which adopted the concept from Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Martin Miller, managing director of the Fayetteville, Ark.-based TheaterSquared, was a 24-year-old master's degree candidate in an arts leadership program run by Chicago Shakespeare Theater and DePaul University.
The nonprofit theater asked him and two other students how they could promote Shakespeare's 445th birthday on April 23, 2009, in a way that was easy, everyman and fun.
Much like most other English teachers and Shakespeare geeks, they just love the language so much. They wanted to raise awareness that modern language still uses many of the 1,700-plus words and expressions William Shakespeare added to the English language.
Like: “Greek to me,” “one fell swoop” and “good riddance.”
Miller remembered what a lark it was using pirate-speak in his undergraduate days at Carleton College in Minnesota.
He wrote 10 rules about how to talk like Shakespeare, the theater put them on a website, and then Chicago Mayor Richard Daley issued a proclamation. Media outlets from the Guardian newspaper in London to NBC covered the story.
Nebraska Shakespeare got wind of it and in 2011 tried out Talk Like Shakespeare Day in Omaha.
Now in its third year, this is supposed to be the city's biggest celebration of it yet. At least a dozen local businesses are offering freebies and slashed prices if you talk like Shakespeare tomorrow or wear the mask.
And what would shock even the witches of Macbeth, Nebraska Shakespeare is going modern. You can:
• Post YouTube videos of yourself acting the part on Nebraska Shakespeare's Facebook page.
• Email photos of Shakespeare mask wearers to info@NebraskaShakespeare.com.
• Sing karaoke starting at 9:30 p.m. at House of Loom, 1012 S. 10th St.
• Wear a special T-shirt with one of those black and white QR codes which, if scanned by a smartphone, will bring Shakespeare right to your handheld.
Social media is Greek to you? Fear not.
You can enter the sonnet-writing contest.
Or you can just spend day talking or thinking like Shakespeare.
Want to get your kids out the door in the morning? Just tell them, Nay but make haste ... Be Mercury, set feathers to thy heels!
Need some guts to ask for a raise or ask someone on a date? Screw your courage to the sticking place!
Need a quick insult? Try these: Thou roguish rump-fed malt-worm! Thou fobbing poddle-deep flax-wench! Thou spleeny onion-eyed pidgeon egg!
And of course, when you dribble coffee onto your blouse: Out, out damned spot!
Promoters of the day want us to have fun with the language.
I asked Paul Boesing, who talks like Shakespeare for a living, what he thought.
The 78-year-old Omaha actor has spent a portion of his professional career delivering Shakespeare's lines. He has played Richard II, Othello, Polonius from “Hamlet,” Roland from “Cleopatra” and others.
In last year's Shakespeare on the Green, he landed what many consider the ultimate Shakespearean role: King Lear.
“Shakespeare, of course, is so universal,” he told me. “Once you really get (the language) on its feet, and you speak it out loud, it makes a lot of sense.”
So on the morn when the sun doth rise
Cut out Will's face and fetch your prize
More than for cupcakes, more than for scones
Talk like Shakespeare — make him your own.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1136, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/ErinGraceOWH
Bard Bargains — Citywide discounts for Shakespeare Day
• Omaha Visitor Center at 1001 Farnam. Ask in "Shakespearean" and get a free "Omaha" wristband while they last.
• Jones Bros. Cupcakes. Check our Facebook for the cupcake of the day, then pick one up one free cupcake while they last.
• The Bookworm will give a 10% discount on purchases if one asks to buy in "Shakespearean" and a 20% discount if wearing the bard face mask in addition!
• The Market Basket will have miniature scones for those speaking a bit 'o Bard.
• The Village Grinder will have a treat if you speak Shakespearean.
• Dundee Dell if the Bard is spoken, is offering "free drink" and fish & chips at Happy Hour prices all day.
• eCremery will offer a "free topping" if a bit of the Bard is used.
• Dundee Cork & Bottle will offer a $1 off Boru Vodka drink.
• Jane's Health Market will give you a "treat" if thous speak'est like the Bard.
• The Mill at both locations will offer a dollar off /"buck off" any purchase!
TO END THE DAY IN OMAHA
• Karaoke Theatre at House of Loom will be the perfect end of the day with "Sing Like SHAKESPEARE Karaoke!" Check our playlist and have fun with your pipes begining at 9:30 PM.