Celebrate Shakespeare’s
birthdate with King Lear

The Stratford Festival presents a virtual version of the Bard’s play

By Byron Toben

In this time of no live theatre or other entertainment, innovative groups are making available productions on line.

On this April 23, the anniversary of both the birth and death of William Shakespeare, for instance, the fine Hudson Village Theatre is suggesting an online King Lear from the Ontario Stratford Festival, with more productions to come in future weeks. The play debuts at 7 pm and continues for free for three weeks. The link will be available on the Stratford Festival website.

I cannot resist commenting on the coincidence of the Bard’s birth and demise on the same date. His death in 1616 at age 52 is well documented. His birth is estimated as no record has been found.
However, he does have a baptismal record on April 26 and it was the custom of the time to record that three days after the birth.

In this time of no live theatre or other entertainment, innovative groups are making available productions on line.

This led me to enquire which other famous people have also exited on the anniversary of their entrance? One I have long known is the great actress Ingrid Bergman, a three-time Oscar winner, who died on August 29, 1982, at age 67.

A search revealed several others, such as:
– Jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet, who passed on May 14, 1959, at age 62.
– Country music legend Merle Haggard, gone on April 6, 2016, at age 79.
– Novelist Allen Drury, Pulitzer Prize winner for Advise and Consent who left us on September 2, 1998, at age 80.
– Feminist icon Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique, missed since February 4, 2006, at age 85.

Blind Date Centaur Theatre -

Image: courtesy of Spontaneous Theatre

Two other historical giants who had unusual demises, although not on their birth anniversaries, are none other than writer Mark Twain and playwright/actor Molière.

Mr. Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, came and went on the appearance of Halley’s comet whose elliptical orbit is visible on Earth only every 75 years. Twain passed on April 21, 1910. If you wish to witness its next coming yourself, keep your eyes peeled for 2062.

Molière, born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, collapsed on stage while performing the lead role of bedridden hypochondriac Argon in his play The Imaginary Invalid and died a few hours later on February 17, 1673, at age 54.

Also, Hudson Village Theatre suggests an online version of the fantastically funny Blind Date which played both in Hudson and at Montreal’s Centaur Theatre a few years back. That is on Friday, April 24 at 10 pm and is made available by its writer and performer, Rebecca Northan, on her YouTube Page. Read my review from that Centaur show.

Feature image: King Lear – courtesy of the Stratford FestivalBouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre –

Read more articles from Byron Toben

Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.

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