WATERVILLE — Local residents out enjoying the burst of spring weather Saturday may have been surprised to stumble across a group celebrating an unexpected cause — William Shakespeare’s birthday.

The Recycled Shakespeare Company gathered Saturday for the annual Bard’s Birthday Bash. Members of the company dressed in Elizabethan garb — many of which has been used in the company’s various productions — and strolled through downtown Waterville, reading all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

“Right now I’m on top of the world,” said Lyn Rowden, company producer and one of the founders.

It’s the 10th year of the Bard’s Birthday Bash, and this year marks another anniversary, 400 years since the first publication of Shakespeare’s plays. Called his First Folio, it was printed in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. The publication preserved his plays, many of which had not been printed before.

Mary Freeman, left, and her sister, Lyn Rowden, center, share a laugh Saturday after taking a picture of the Recycled Shakespeare Company during a celebration of William Shakespeare’s birthday at Holy Cannoli on Main Street in downtown Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

When the company first started the Bard’s Bash, they hadn’t been planning to make it an annual tradition, Rowden said. So to be here 10 years later, even after the sudden death of Rowden’s daughter, company founder Emily Fournier, is “unbelievable,” Rowden said.

“When we first started this, we never even thought about another, it was a one-off,” Rowden said. “And then we kept going, and then when we lost Emily, again it was like, this is it, we’re done. But you know what? It’s these people here saying ‘We need the theater and we need RSC.'”


The company was created on the principles of making Shakespeare more accessible, and to be conscious of the environmental impact of theater productions. The group’s mantra is “reduce, reuse, recite,” and they work to reuse costumes and sets, and make them from unexpected items.

Throughout the morning, the group worked its way across Main Street and back, starting at the Camden National Bank and making various stops until arriving at Greene Block + Studios, then retracing its path back toward the Paul J. Schupf Art Center before breaking for lunch at Jin Yuan restaurant.

Margaret May Lambert, center, along with Shana Page, left center, and Tammy Werber, left, all with the Recycled Shakespeare Company, cross Main Street in downtown Waterville on Saturday as they celebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The celebration would continue into the afternoon at Selah Tea, Rowden said, before proceeding to an evening masquerade ball at Greene Block + Studios.

More than 70 people were expected to read sonnets throughout the day, Rowden said, with the members of the Recycled Shakespeare company reading multiple to complete all 154.

At Holy Cannoli, the group paused to sing, and at Day’s Jewelers, store manager Craig Adamson joined in to read a sonnet. At the Schupf Center, the sonnets echoed up the stairway and the smooth sounds of Margaret May Lambert’s drone flute filled the space.

Lambert, 54, is an Oakland resident and has been a member of the company from the beginning. She used to do medieval tournament sword fighting, and in some ways sees Shakespeare’s plays as a way to continue her love of medieval reenactments. She described herself as one of the company’s strays, and said she valued how everyone is truly welcome there.


“For me, it’s basically like this is home,” Lambert said.

Margaret May Lambert of the Recycled Shakespeare Company listens to a sonnet being read Saturday during a birthday celebration for The Bard at Day’s Jewelers on Main Street in downtown Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Justine Wiesinger said that she has never before had a chance to read so many sonnets in just one day, but the experience was a lot of fun.

It was Wiesinger’s first year at the Bard’s Bash, after joining the group last year for the production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” Wiesinger, 37, said that although practice requires a bit of a trip from her home in Lewiston, she loves Recycled Shakespeare Company’s approach.

“I really love the approach this group has, being both eco-conscious and super inclusive — making theater available to people who don’t have to pay,” Wiesinger said.

The company is currently rehearsing it’s latest show, “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” and plans performances throughout May:

  • •Friday, May 12, 7 p.m., Pizza and a Play at the Fairfield House of Pizza, 207 Main St., Fairfield.
  • •Saturday, May 13, 7 p.m., and Friday, May 19, 7 p.m., at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 36 Cool St., Waterville.
  • •Saturday, May 20, 7 p.m., at South Parish Congregational Church, 9 Church St., Augusta.
  • •Sunday, May 21, 2 p.m., at Central Hall Commons, 152 E. Main Street, Dover-Foxcroft.

All shows are free to attend, no tickets necessary, but those who would like to make a reservation should email Rowden at recycledshakespeare@gmail.com. And attendees can make a $10 donation to reserve a front row seat at the shows.

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