CEDAR CITY — About 1,800 children from Cedar City, St. George and other southern Utah communities took part in the Bard’s Birthday Bash on Thursday and Friday at Southern Utah University.

The two-day event celebrated William Shakespeare and was meant to attract the next generation of audience members to the Utah Shakespeare Festival, which is held on the SUU campus.

Second-graders took to the Adams Shakespearean Theatre stage in honor of William Shakespeare, who was born at the end of April.

Historians are not certain but believe he was born on April 23, 1564. There are church records of his christening on April 26. He died April 23, 1616.

The children performed scenes from "Much Ado About Nothing." And when you’re very young, romance is so not appealing.

"Basically, in the play, there's Beatrice and I'm, like, getting married to her," said second-grader Jack Mullins, who played Benedict. "But luckily I'm not doing the part where I get married to her. Yuck."

Other children performed scenes from "A Midsummer Night's Dream." But acting can be nerve-wracking.

"My teacher said, 'Just pretend you're in class doing it,'" said Aurora Van Arv, who played Titania, "and I did it, and I wasn't afraid.”

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But not all of the children wanted to perform, so they participated as audience members.

Through their performances and observations, the children learned that Shakespeare is a lot easier to understand than they thought.

"It's that connection to Shakespeare's words and stories that make this last their lifetimes,” said Michael Bahr, education director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Email: cmikita@deseretnews.com