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April 21, 2014

Shakespeare on the Ipswich

'Ninja' Shakespeare festival will see scenes from the bard performed all over town

IPSWICH — What do you do for the birthday boy when he’s already the most acclaimed writer in human history and, besides, he won’t be here for the party?

Saturday, April 26, is the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare. To mark the occasion, the ninjas of the Actors Company of Ipswich will be offering bits of the bard all over town.

That means Helena and Hermia of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be battling instead of dreaming outside of Zumi’s Coffee Shop. You can join cast members saying “Good night, sweet prince,” to Hamlet (and the several unlucky Danes who “shuffled off this mortal coil” along with him) on the Riverwalk. Meanwhile, Romeo will pitch woo to Juliet high above in the window of the First Ipswich Bank, whose “stony walls” might keep your money in, but “cannot hold love out.”

The 450th birthday for the great dramatist is, of course, a milestone and will be observed all over the North Shore, if not the world. But the ninjas have gotten the jump on everyone. With the help of local businesses, they’ve been marking the first Saturday after Shakespeare’s birthday with downtown performances for three years. This year’s show begins at noon at the Visitor Center and won’t last longer than 3 p.m.

“It’s guerrilla theater,” explains J.T. Turner, the professional actor who runs the Actors Company. Love of Shakespeare figured in establishing this event. “We do small scenes from quite a few of Shakespeare’s plays.” The audience can follow from venue to venue to see the performances — it’s not a difficult walk, Turner says.

Shakespeare can be a challenge, given the occasional archaic expression and the use of verse. But he’s confident his performers can make themselves clear, notwithstanding the racket of downtown traffic.

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