This program is partially supported by grants from the Chicago Foundation for Women, the Illinois Arts Council Agency through federal funds, a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, and The Young Leaders Fund of The Chicago Community Trust.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Summer camp with The Viola Project awaits!

Are you a young actress?  Want a challenge?  Do you want to be in a room of fantastically creative peers and teachers?  Do you believe in girl power and speaking your mind?

Come spend a week (or two, or three!) with The Viola Project!   We are Chicago' s only all girl Shakespeare program that takes a 400 year old master and turns him on his head.  You'll act in magnificent scenes, talk social justice, sun or dunk yourself at the beach and meet some pretty amazing ladies.  All programs culminate in a performance and we want YOU to come play!

What are you waiting for!  Sign up today!


The Viola Project welcomes all youth ages 10-16 who culturally identify as girls and women.  Our students are welcomed regardless of their race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation or ability.  

We do not turn away youth who require financial assistance!  Please email SCHOLARSHIP to to get your application started  or
click here to fill out a scholarship application!

2016 SUMMER CAMPS in Chicago and Oak Park



Where there's a Will...
from 350.00

Where there’s a Will…

June 27 - July 1
      **Special Friday Extended day ends at 6:30pm
Recommended for Ages 10-14
Austin Gardens at Oak Park Festival Theatre

We’re back in Oak Park!  Join The Viola Project and travel through Shakespeare’s biggest blockbusters from Midsummer Night’s Dream to Macbeth and work on a professional theater set! In honor of Oak Park Festival Theatre’s upcoming Pygmalion you’ll also be trying on accents in a special dialect workshop where you’ll unlock the secrets of disguising your voice, just like Eliza Doolittle!  This camp is a great introduction to Shakespeare, especially if you’re interested in our one play focused Shrew camp!

Dialect Coach for OPFT's production of Pygmalion, Kathy Logelin

number of students:
Add To Cart
Speak the Speech III
from 210.00

Speak the Speech III

July 6-8
Recommended for Ages 12-16
City Lit Theatre

Are you a veteran Viola Girl?  Want to take your text work and monologue skills to the next level?  Join us for a three day intensive to polish up and prepare two contrasting monologues from Shakespeare's text.  Discover why Shakespeare's character say the things they do and unlock the secrets of how Shakespeare wanted his actors to speak. You’ll learn the basics of Folio work, widely regarded by professional Shakespearean actors as the best way to approach his text!  You’ll also have an opportunity to “audition” for a professional Chicago theatre casting director.  Not only will you get a chance to practice what can be a very stressful part of being a actor, but you’ll get feedback on how your confidence changes the way people see you when you walk into a room.

Chicago director and Lifeline Theatre casting director, Lavina Jadhwani

number of students:
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I Am the Man
from 350.00

I Am the Man

July 11-15
Recommended for Ages 10-14
City Lit Theatre

Shakespeare was a master gender bender.  From a company of all men performing women’s roles, to female characters dressing up as boys, all the way to The Viola Project, Shakespeare helps us critically examine gender with humor and humanity.  Join The Viola Project as you pull out all the pants roles from Viola to Portia and engage in theatrical dialogue about the stakes for men and women; in Shakespeare’s England and in our Chicago!

High School returning students may apply for a leadership role. Contact for more information

Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health's performance cadre FYI returns after leading a workshop on healthy relationships and consent last summer.
This year, FYI will be leading a workshop that analyzes the impact of gender roles on relationships and allows youth to practice using tools to speak up for themselves and others.  

Field Trip:
Field Trip to nearby Rivendell Theatre Ensemble to discuss costume design with ensemble member Janice Pytel. 

number of students:
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Let Loose My Opinion!
from 350.00

Let Loose My Opinion!

July 18-22
Recommended for Ages 10-14
City Lit Theatre

Join The Viola Project as we become journalists -- Shakespeare style! We'll explore perspective and bias using texts like Richard III - can we trust what Richard says about his own story? - and interview guest artists from Chicago media outlets about how they cover important events in our time. We'll also talk about how these ideas might apply to articles we might read on social media.

High School returning students may apply for a leadership role. Contact for more information

Susy Schultz from Public Narrative  (formerly Community Media Workshop)

Field Trip:
Tour of the Tribune Tower

number of students:
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If I be Waspish... (City Lit - Taming of the Shrew with OPFT)
from 350.00

If I be Waspish...
Taming of the Shrew with Oak Park Festival Theatre

July 25-29
9am-3pm (Class ends at 6pm on Friday)
Recommended for Ages 12-16


Kate is fiery and independent; Petruchio is betting he can tame her into a sweet and obedient wife.  What follows is one of the most compelling and most problematic plays in Shakespeare’s canon.  And that’s why The Viola Project wants you tackle it head on; with wit, with cunning and with an all girl team of players.  We want you to look at some of the more challenging and complicated aspects of the play in this camp designed for older girls.  Campers at City Lit will keep in touch with our Oak Park camp and then join them for a joint performance on Friday in Austin Gardens.  

Please note this camp for older students will be bringing up mature themes that are presented in the play.

- Fonseca Martial Arts
- Professor, and frequent Chicago Shakespeare Scholar Regina Buccola


number of students:
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Best Beware My Sting (Oak Park - Taming of the Shrew with OPFT)
from 350.00

Best Beware My Sting
Taming of the Shrew with Oak Park Festival Theatre

LOCATION: Austin Gardens at Oak Park Festival Theatre
July 25-29
9am-3pm (Class ends at 6pm on Friday)
Recommended for Ages 10-14

Kate is fiery and independent; Petruchio is betting he can tame her into a sweet and obedient wife.  What follows is one of the most compelling and most problematic plays in Shakespeare’s canon.  And that’s why The Viola Project wants you to tackle it head on; with wit, with cunning and with an all girl team of players.  This camp will meet every day on the professional set for Taming of the Shrew.  We’re teaming up with Oak Park Festival Theatre to give you an inside perspective into the production of a play and the work that goes into crafting a performance of Shakespeare’s famous shrew.  This camp culminates with a special performance on the set of Oak Park Festival Theatre’s stage by both our City Lit and our Oak Park camps.

- Fonseca Martial Arts

-R & D Choreography - fight choreographers for OPFT festival of Shrew

number of students:
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Vaulting Ambition
from 350.00

Vaulting Ambition

August 1-5
Recommended for Ages 10-14
City Lit Theatre

It’s almost election time and The Viola Project wants YOU to get into the race!  Walk in the steps of King Henry V and learn to spot politicians like Richard III from a mile away.  You may not be able to vote yet, but we want you to get your government on in this week long camp on political intrigue.  We’ll get you thinking globally and acting locally.  Practice your debate skills and find a platform; it’s time to stand up for what you believe in.

High School returning students may apply for a leadership role. Contact for more information

Mikva Challenge
Mikva Challenge was founded on the premise that youth voice and participation matter, and that our civic and political life will be stronger when youth participate and help shape their own destinies.

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky
(pending last minute travel changes due to the Election)

number of students:
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Every Inch a Queen II
Monday, February 15

Join The Viola Project this President's Day for our second annual girls in government workshop! You'll perform scenes with Shakespeare's greatest Queens, break through stereotypes of women and girls in power and play politics for a day. Create campaign commercials for the likes of Lady Macbeth and Cleopatra and help pen a new Bill of Rights...just for girls. You’re making the government today!

Masters of Our Fate
April 18-22

Hang out with The Viola Project this spring break for our first week ever devoted exclusively to incoming and current high schoolers!  Consider this your Shakespeare boot camp, especially if you love theatre but are a little at sea when it comes to classical text.  Whether you’re thinking of applying for a theatre program for college or just want to get better at flexing your Shakespeare performance muscles, this week is for you.  You’ll work on advanced text work and longer format scenes with our master teachers and come back to your high school drama class with added tools and more confidence.  We’ll also help you use your performance skills in job interviews and start the conversation now about how to negotiate your salary in the professional world.  The Viola Project, through the generous support of the Arbonne Foundation is offering this camp free of charge to participants, but space is limited!

Guest artist: Improvised Shakespeare Company 

This project is made possible by the support of the Arbonne Foundation and the 48th Ward Youth Providers.


Speak The Speech II
June 29 - July 1, 2015

"Suit the action to the word, the word to the action..."
Shakespeare is full of dualities, antithesis and twins.  In this special three day camp, The Viola Project will bring together players of all ability who want to brush up their Shakespeare before embarking on our most ambitious summer to date! Novice students will get a chance to warm up to Shakespeare through games, approachable group pieces and our famous 10 minute versions of the plays while advanced students will delve into working on Shakespeare’s First Folio to deepen their understanding of the text. Those who took part of Speak the Speech last year are encouraged to participate again. This three day intensive is recommended for anyone who wants to spend a week of summer camp with us, though it is not a prerequisite for participating. Kick off summer with The Viola Project with this special 3 day camp tailored to Shakespeare novices, masters, and everyone in between!


Once More Unto the Breach
July 6 - July 10, 2015

"Now go we in content, to liberty and not to banishment"
Shakespeare’ heroines had to keep on their toes and use their cunning to fend for themselves.  Whether trekking through Wales to get to Milford Haven or seeking refuge in Arden, the forest could be a dangerous and exciting place.  Join The Viola Project as we explore the similarities and differences between Shakespeare’s wilderness and Chicago’s streets.  At times wild and dangerous -- and always full of chance and mystery -- we’ll crack the code to keeping your cool whether you’re in the forests outside of Athens or riding the Red Line on your way to school. Shakespeare’s savviest ladies teach us how to keep our cool when we’re on our own - in Arden’s forests or on Chicago streets!

Featuring workshop by guest organization IMPACT Chicago


Frailty, Thy Name is NOT Woman
July 13 - 17, 2015

"Do you not know I am a woman? when I think, I must speak."
Don’t get us wrong, everyone at The Viola Project adores Shakespeare, but sometimes a girl has to take the Bard’s work into her own hands.  For this week long camp on the art of adaptation, we’ll let YOU decide what Kate’s really thinking at the end of The Taming of the Shrew or what Isabella would like to say to the Duke if she could speak with YOUR voice.  It’s time to be opinionated, courageous, and suit the action to the word.  As we like to point out, the pen is always mightier than the sword… Step aside, Hamlet, it’s time for Gertrude to tell her side of the story!

Featuring workshop by guest artist: The Q Brothers


Sigh No More, Ladies!
July 20 - 24, 2015

"Would that my horse were as fast as her tongue…"
Get your comedy on in this week long camp on funny ladies from Shakespeare to The Second City!  Although women were not allowed on stage in Shakespeare’s comedies, the Bard had the wit to know that ladies can be every bit as shrewd, goofy, ill-mannered, and hilarious as their male counterparts.  We’ll take a cue from Beatrice, Rosalind, and our Merry Wives (to name a few) to prove that girls can hold their own in comedy.  Join The Viola Project as we explore the age-old tradition of women in comedy while celebrating the great comediennes of today’s Chicago! Join the Viola Project for a tour de force of Shakespearean and contemporary comediennes!

Featuring workshop by guest artist: Improvised Shakespeare
and a field trip to ComedySportz Chicago


Two Gentlemen of Verona - in partnership with Oak Park Festival Theatre
August 3 - 7, 2015

"Beshrew me, but you have a quick wit"

Join us at our home at City Lit OR at our home away from home in Austin Gardens, Oak Park!  

Join us in the park for a one played focused summer camp of Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of Shakespeare's earliest comedies!  We'll bring you up close and personal with a real production of Two Gents.  Perform YOUR version of the play on Oak Park Festival Theatre's set and met and discuss your part with actors from Oak Park's production.  We challenge you to come up with and new version of the heroines Julia and Silvia who may have some strong words for two gents who won't take no for an answer!  Give this play your own twist and bring it down to Oak Park for a joint performance between the City Lit and Austen Garden campers! Plus, you're invited as Oak Park Festival Theatre's guest to see their fully realized professional production! For our final week of camp, we are embarking on an ambitious collaboration with Oak Park Festival Theatre and their production of Two Gentlemen of Verona. 


Speak The Speech!
June 30 - July 2, 2014

Are you a veteran Violan?  Want to take your text work and monologue skills to the next level?  Join us for a three day intensive to polish up and prepare two contrasting monologues from Shakespeare's text.  Discover why Shakespeare's character say the things they do and unlock the secrets of how Shakespeare wanted his actors to speak. We'll introduce Folio work and end our session with a mock audition for a real casting director! This camp is designed for girls who have done one or more sessions with The Viola Project and want to strengthen their acting skills.

The Quality of Mercy: The Merchant of Venice
July 7-11, 2014 

Join the Viola Project as we examine justice, mercy and pounds of flesh in one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays.  Experience cross dressing lady lawyers as they command a courtroom and get the inside scoop on how the law worked in Shakespeare’s Venice and how it works today.   In this week long camp we will tackle the tough questions that come up in Merchant and ponder whether anyone can truly be without prejudice.  This camp will tackle difficult questions dealing with bias as well as include visits from female lawyers

Take a look at some recent scenes performed by the Viola girls

Sounds and Sweet Aires!
July 14-18, 2014

Shakespeare's plays were full of poetry and music and so are you!  Join The Viola Project as we unlock the musical secrets within his plays, from Ophelia's song of madness to Desdemona's Willow to Feste's closing ballad.  We'll discover why and when people sing instead of speaking and what might compel them to choose another form of communication when simple words fail. We'll tackle scenes with music head on while generating our own songs and poems.  No musical experience is necessary, but feel free to bring your instrument!  This camp will include basic to intermediate music instruction in addition to our regular Shakespeare text work.

Serious Vanity
July 21-25, 2014

Shakespeare’s heroines were bold, witty and strong.  They also endured constant scrutiny from their male counterparts in terms of how they looked and what they wore.  Join The Viola Project as we respond to the men of Shakespeare while responding to ideals of beauty in our present day.  On our week we’ll encounter great loves like Juliet, spurned mistresses like Rosalind and misunderstood bad girls like Kate.  We’ll tackle media representation from the Renaissance portraits of the Art Institute to the cover of Vogue and even play a little dress up!  This camp includes a field trip to Chicago's Art Institute as well as a presentation of student generated work responding to standards of beauty for women and girls.

Oh My Ducats!
July 28 - Aug 1, 2014

How do you take a bankrupt and endangered kingdom and turn it into a prosperous and powerful queendom?  Just ask Elizabeth I!  The influence of Queen Elizabeth made England a place where playwrights like Shakespeare could flourish.  We'll take a look at her amazing transformation of England as well as scenes in Shakepeare of characters grappling with power, money and titles.  We'll also get savvy on financial matters that affect women and girls today and create an economy of our own within the walls of City Lit. (Don't worry, we'll use fake money!) This camp will include an age appropriate presentation on financial planning and conversations on the importance of financial independence for women and girls.

2013-2014 SEASON
**10th Anniversary Season!**

Gratitude and Grace
November 2, 2013 10am-4pm
Break bread with the Viola Project this November as we find things to be thankful for. While Shakespeare’s plays are filled with war mongers, murderers and villains, they are also filled with peacemakers, saviors and heroes.  Fight feuds with Benvolio, give selfless gifts like Antonio, and learn, like Lear, to cherish what is truly valuable.  

Relatively Crazy
December 7, 2013 10am-4pm
As we delve into the holiday season - and perhaps reunite with Crazy Uncle Alfred - let us take pause to look at some characters that have some seriously colorful families.  Literally and figuratively, madness is an ongoing theme in Shakespeare’s plays.  This workshop will give you new perspective on how absolutely normal your family is.

Sibling Rivalry
January 11, 2014 10am-4pm
Shakespeare’s plays are brimming with brothers, sisters and LOTS of twins!  We’ll look at all things concerning siblings - the good, the bad and the ugly.  Act with a friend or bring your brother or sister for such great pairs as Viola and Sebastian, Katherina and Bianca and more.

The Tempest with City Lit Theater
February 8, 2014 3pm-11pm
Mini workshop 3pm-6:30pm; Families welcome to join us at 6:30pm for dinner. Curtain is at 8pm at City Lit Theater
Join the Viola Project in experiencing Shakespeare’s late play on magic, forgiveness and letting go. Tuition includes mini-workshop, dinner and a ticket to that evening’s performance of The Tempest at City Lit Theater. Families are encouraged to join us for dinner and the show. Family tickets sold separately.

Minor Characters, Major Parts
March 1, 2014 10am-4pm
There are no small parts, only small actors!  So the saying goes, but what if Peter from Romeo and Juliet had his own play?  What if the Boy from Henry V got to soliloquize like Hamlet?  Find out what goes on with the little guy while Kings and Queens are moving mountains.

Shakespeare’s Birthday Bash
April 5, 2014 10am-4pm
The bard may be 450 but he’s never looked so good! As Will turns a new half-century (and we turn 10!) join us for an exploration of our favorite scenes ever! Oh, and cake. 

Moms of Avon V
May 3, 2014 12pm-4pm
Join us for our fifth annual celebration of mothers and daughters. Whether you are a professional actress or prefer to be behind the scenes, this is a great day to discover something new about your daughter. Tuition covers both mother and daughter; no experience is necessary.

Dads of Stratford II
June 7, 2014 12pm-4pm
We loved having the dads come in, so we’re inviting them BACK!  Dads and daughters will work and act together to bring to life some of Shakespeare’s most lovely family scenes. Tuition covers both dad and daughter; no experience is necessary.


July 8-12, 2013
Get in touch with your inner swordswoman in this week long camp of fight scenes!  Learn to get out of tricky situations with Thousand Waves Violence Prevention!

Faeries, Ghosts and Witches
July 15-19, 2013
Wanna create Shakespeare's most fantastical creatures? Join us for stage makeup, puppetry and more!

Hamlet Boot Camp
July 22-26, 2013
Come play the greatest part of all time!  But save room for some lighter fare with improv and satire!

Feasts, Falstaff and Great Food
July 29- Aug 2, 2013
Had enough words, words, words with Hamlet?  How 'bout some oat cakes and honey?  For epicureans of all ages who love Shakespeare AND a good meal!

12th Night with Oak Park Festival Theatre
Aug 5-9, 2013
Venture to Illyria with the Viola Project!  Then head out to Oak Park's magical Austin Gardens for a professional production!


The Presence of Justice
January 19, 2013 10am-4pm

What makes a happy ending, and what makes a tragedy? In honor of Martin Luther King, the Viola Project
will investigate three plays in which characters face great injustice, from prejudice and persecution to false
accusation. “King Lear,” “Measure For Measure” and “A Merchant of Venice” are beautiful plays that raise
difficult questions. At this workshop, the students will judge.

As We Like It
February 16, 2013 10am-4pm

Damsels are doing it for themselves! This February, be your own Valentine with a workshop that focuses
on Shakespeare’s independent women. Sure, romantic songs and handwritten poems are fun, but
sometimes a girl just has to run off into the forest, and learn to love her-self. You go, Rosalind!

Julius Caesar with Babes With Blades
March 23, 2013 3pm-10pm

It’s the Ides of March- time to take a Roman holiday with the Viola Project! We’ll start the day with a
mini-workshop on Shakespeare’s political tragedy, then adjourn for a delicious Italian meal from
Francesca’s on Bryn Mawr. Finally, we’ll head over to Raven Theatre for a full-length, all female
performance of the play. Hail Caesar! Workshop price includes dinner and theatre ticket.

Shakespeare’s Greatest Hits
April 20, 2013 10am-4pm

It’s Will’s party, and we’ll act if we wanna! Celebrate the Bard’s birthday weekend by enjoying the gifts that Shakespeare gave us- his amazing plays! We’ll be performing all of our favorite not-yet-performed
scenes, eating cake, and playing pin the tail on the Bottom. It’s time to blow out the candles on 449 years of
fantastic drama.

Moms of Avon IV
May 11, 2013 12pm-4pm

This May, mothers and daughters will share the stage… while sharing their hearts! The Viola Project’s
fourth Mother’s Day workshop will focus on communication, with scene performances, a souvenir craft
exercise, and a family tea. No acting experience required- just a willingness to have fun with your
daughter! Tuition covers both mother and daughter.

Dads of Stratford I
June 15, 2013 12pm-4pm

Our Mama’s Day workshops have been so popular, we just had to invite the Papas! This Saturday
workshop will give fathers the chance to share a unique bonding experience with their girls, while
exploring the deeply meaningful and transformative father-daughter relationships that anchor so many of
Shakespeare’s plays. No acting experience required, just a willingness to have fun and learn with your
child. Tuition covers both father and daughter.


WARRIOR QUEENS: Shakespearean women who ruled on the battlefield
July 9-13 2012, 9am-4pm

From Joan of Arc to Cleopatra, history is full of women who ruled on the battlefield as well as in court. For this week-long summer camp, we'll focus on the indomitable dames, often based on real-life leaders, who fight their way through Shakespeare's works. Students will train in stage combat, as well as in practical modern self defense. Elizabeth I, who ruled England in Shakespeare's time, said “I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.” This summer, TVP students will battle past gender stereotypes to discover their inner warriors- and their inner queens. 
Midsummer Masque: You’re invited to a very dramatic party…
July 16-20 2012, 9am-4pm

Nothing is more dramatic than an Shakespearean party. Masques, disguises, revelations, romance and fights, a party is a place where anything can happen, including a good time. This week-long summer camp will focus on Shakespeare's party scenes, from “Romeo and Juliet” to “Much Ado about Nothing.” Students will also investigate the traditions and excesses of Elizabethan parties: learning dances, making masks and eating era-appropriate food. Fabulous! 

RICHARD III: Oak Park Festival Theatre teams up with TVP to bring students
to the professional stage!
July 23-27 2012, 9am-4pm

Tricky Dick is going to be King of England- there are just a few dead
relatives in his way! In conjunction with Oak Park Festival Theatre's
production of “Richard III”, TVP presents a summer camp based on one
of Shakespeare's most deliciously scheming villains. Students will
study characters and create costume designs for “Richard III,” but
they'll also get the chance to meet and talk to the actors and
designers behind a full professional production. The camp includes two
passes to the show, and students are invited to perform on Oak Park Festival’s stage! 
Hamlet Remix'd: Step one: Study Hamlet. Step two: Parody Hamlet. 
July 30-August 10 2012, 9am-4pm

Shakespeare's moody prince has inspired countless
revisions and parodies. He's not just the main character of one of
the world's greatest plays, he's a pop culture icon! For this first
half of this two-week camp, we'll focus on Hamlet Classic, exploring
characters and scenes in Shakespeare's original text. For the second
half, we'll turn our attention to some of our favorite Hamlet remixes, 
drawing on everything from “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” to
“I Hate Hamlet.” Students will not only play Hamlet, they'll
deconstruct Hamlet, writing a parody script of their own as well as work with
Chicago improv artists to develop a keen sense of satire! 


By the Sword/ Fight!
January 21, 2012 10am-4pm

Fight for honor, for survival, or just for fun with this one-day workshop on Shakespeare's most
contentious characters. Learn the basic techniques of stage combat and use them safely in
scenes from your favorite action-packed plays. Punch, pull, strike and stab... create the illusion of
vicious conflict while working in perfect harmony. 

Style and Status
February 11, 2012 10am-4pm

 What does it mean to walk in Richard III's shoes? How do you move as a mischievous sprite or
a stubborn mortal? Find out how to put the word to the action and the action to the word in this
day long workshop exploring transformation and physicality. 

Taming of the Shrew with Chicago Shakes
March 10, 2012 10:30am-4:30pm

Kate is a shrew: strong willed, opinionated, and kind of violent. Petruchio is a player: lewd, crude
and out to snag a rich wife. When they meet, it's hate at first sight! Join the Viola Project and
Chicago Shakespeare for a raucous round of boys vs. girls. We'll start the day with CST's Short
Shakespeare production of "The Taming of the Shrew" down at Navy Pier, then head back up to
City Lit to create our own version! Drop off will be at Navy Pier, pickup at City Lit!

Bardic Birthday Bash
April 21, 2012 10am-4pm

Love the plays? It's time to thank the playwright! Join the Viola Project for a celebration of
William Shakespeare's birthday! We’ll get together a birthday package to send to Stratford, 
England and work on your favorite characters, sonnets and songs. There will be cake!