“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
On April 22, Earth Day was commemorated by many people the world over as a day to be mindful of caring for the earth, and grateful for the many natural gifts we receive from her. This remembered day, first celebrated in 1970 as a public awareness occasion, is followed by William Shakespeare’s birthday on April 23. During Elizabethan England, people enjoyed playing a variety of games and sport, including early versions of Golf and Croquet. Chess, Backgammon, Archery, Horseshoes, card games, billiards, and dice were popular among adults, while children enjoyed playing marbles, Hopscotch, and Blind Man’s Bluff.
William Shakespeare is featured in both of my Prairie Prose and Quills! game collections. The first game is the Prairie Prose - Cooperative Poetry Game, which includes a quote from the bard. Jens Jensen designed the Shakespeare Garden at Northwestern University, where much of my background research was conducted to make the Prairie Prose game experience authentically playful and poetic.
In the sprit of Earth Day, all of my games are bespoke and green–made to order, and from mostly recyclable materials, with no special assembly, electricity or batteries required. It is a form of sustainable play for occasions when we are striving to be more green. It is also a wonder in our digital age to imagine what it was like to write a poem, a play, or a novel with a quill feather pen in one’s hand, often by candlelight. Not to mention the role-play possibilities in the game! What a marvel it is that many surviving works penned in simpler times by Shakespeare, Jane Austen and others have become timeless, and continue to resonate with new generations of tech savvy fans ; )
The bard is featured as a main character in Quills! Elizabethan Edition I & II, which was made in celebration of his dramatic and comedic plays. It is interesting to consider a special link between Earth Day and Shakespeare, who imaginatively included many herbs, flowers, gardens, and forests in his theatrical and poetic works–which are deeply connected to play in how we engage ourselves in the world and with each other.
Happy Earth Day! Happy Birthday Shakespeare! Play on!