William Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564, so it’s pretty impressive that someone who was born 451 years ago is still influencing pop culture today. (On the other hand, he’s had plenty of time to make a lasting impression!) Not only do we owe words, commonly used phrases, and even a popular first name to The Bard, here at UncommonGoods we also owe him for inspiring our Shakespearean Soiree Printable Party Kit. Our kit is packed with fun Shakespeare facts, making it a great way to sneak a little nerdery into your party. (Bonus fun fact, “nerd” actually wasn’t coined by Shakespeare, the credit for that one goes to Dr. Seuss.)
We worked with our friends at Mental_Floss to find the perfect pieces of trivia to incorporate into the kit and give us ideas for the decorations, games, and party accessories included. So, in honor of Shakespeare’s birthday, we’re sharing a few of the posts that helped us make sure our stories weren’t bogus.
Image Credit: THINKSTOCK/ERIN MCCARTHY via Mental_Floss
1.) “To Be or Not to Be?”
Our cupcake toppers feature a play on this extremely well-known quote from Hamlet, which continues, “that is the question—/Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer/The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,/ Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles…” It turns out that line was once something else entirely. According to Bad Quartos: What Shakespeare Could’ve Been, the line appeared as “To be or not to be. Aye, there’s the point. To die, to sleep—is that all? Aye, all.” in an edition that was available between 1603 and 1604. The cause of this lesser known soliloquy? Piracy! Bootlegged copies of Shakespeare’s plays made their way into bookstores after shady playgoers copied down what they could remember and then printed their knockoff versions.
2.) “Sweets to the Sweet”
This one comes from Hamlet as well, but how could we resist using this perfect quote on our treat bag? We learned from 7 Geeky-Cool Translations of Hamlet that Hamlet has been translated into hundreds of languages. It’s no surprise that such a famous play has been so widely translated, but we were surprised (and oh so pleased) to see it translated into Klingon, Emoji, and even a Lego animation.
3.) “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!”
Our Pin the Soap on Lady Macbeth game is definitely less gruesome than The Scottish Play, but fans of the tragedy will recall that that murder and mayhem run rampant through the Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is riddled with guilt and attempts to scrub clean a blood stain that isn’t actually there. This is pretty dark stuff, but there is a bright side. The article Out, Damned Spot! explains the Macbeth effect , “a psychological phenomena where cleanliness lessens guilty feelings.”
4.) Titania and Oberon
Titania and Oberon are perhaps best known as the King and Queen of the Fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the comedy featured in our “playbill” guest book. Although this list of 12 Distant Places in the Solar System (And What They’re Named After) isn’t specifically about famous fictional couple, it does feature their celestial namesakes. Titania and Oberon are also moons of Uranus. Not only are all of Uranus’ moons traditionally named for characters created by Shakespeare or Alexander Pope, their geographical features are also named for people and places in Shakespeare’s work.
5.) Who Will Be Named King?
The crown we chose for our party hats was based on King Lear, and while a specific Mental_Floss post didn’t point us to the design, we were happy to learn from 13 Titles Inspired by Shakespeare Phrases that a line from the play indirectly influenced the title of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Other authors who looked to Shakepeare to help title their work include David Foster Wallace, Ray Bradbury, and Mental_Floss host John Green.