Happy Birthday to the Bard

The rustic village of Middleburg hosts Shakespeare’s 450th birthday bash with a festival honoring his works.

By Robby Osborne

Middleburg's ‘Shakespeare in the ‘Burg’ festival
Photo courtesy of American Shakespeare Center

Middleburg has decided the best way to support its thriving arts community is to have much ado about William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. Though Shakespeare was born around April 23,  the whole town is pitching in to host a labour of love for The Bard with its first ‘Shakespeare in the ‘Burg’ festival from April 4-6. 

The festival kicks off Friday night with a $25 movie night at The Hill School. Along with wine, popcorn, and the Academy Award-winning film, “Shakespeare in Love,” there will be a presentation by author, Syril Levin Kline.

“[Kline] has spent years doing research into the controversy between those who believe Shakespeare wrote the plays and sonnets and those who think it was the Earl of Oxford,” said Genie Ford, one of the festival chairs.  

The American Shakespeare Center travels from its headquarters in Staunton to perform two plays featuring Queen Elizabeth I’s favorite eccentric knight, Sir John Falstaff.  

The Merry Wives of Windsor,” a play specially ordered by the Queen herself will have audiences laughing on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon brings one of Shakespeare’s historical plays, “Henry IV, Part 1,” where Prince Hal must decide which father figure he will emulate when he inherits the throne, the selfish Falstaff or the humorless Hotspur. Both plays will be held at the Middleburg Community Center, and will admission will be $35 for each.

Along with many workshops throughout the weekend, the festival will also include The Middleburg Players‘ performance of Colleen Shaddox’sThe Shakespeares,” an original one-act play selected by festival organizers. The performance takes place Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Parish House.

The festival isn’t all movies and plays. The entire town is filled measure for measure with a Shakespeare theme. If festival goers feel a bit puckish from the days events, they can step into Hunter’s Head Tavern, where a unique menu has been crafted with such options as: “Julius Caesar Salad, Falstaff Fish and Chips, and A Midsummer Night’s Greens.”

The festival encompasses the town with many venues for all the different events. There is a performance package for $100, which bundles all the performances together.


Movie Night @ The Hill School
130 South Madison Street, Middleburg, 20117
$25, Friday 6:30 p.m.
Performances @ Middleburg Community Center
300 West Washington Street, Middleburg, 
$35, Saturday @ 7:30 p.m., Sunday @ 2 p.m.