Moraine Valley Community College is celebrating the lasting legacy of William Shakespeare with the transformation of an area on campus into a blooming garden dedicated to the Bard.
Just north of the Fine and Performing Arts Center (FPAC) and surrounded by trees is now a brick-lined pathway that winds through foliage referenced in Shakespeare’s poems and plays and marked with signage quoting those works. Benches, bird baths and a sundial are sprinkled within the space as well. Through the Moraine Valley Community College Foundation, people can leave their legacy in the garden by buying an engraveable brick for $150.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of the well-known British writer. Around the world, and in Chicago, people are celebrating the Bard and his compositions. This commemoration aligned perfectly with the creation of the garden on campus.
For the last 13 years, the Moraine Valley Theater Department has produced free outdoor summer Shakespeare plays beginning with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Six years ago the department moved the popular series onto the Gateway, which was designed for outdoor music and theater productions. That change sparked the idea for a garden.
“The campus expansion that transformed that area from a parking lot into a park also led to my idea for this Shakespeare garden. I hoped for a space that would supplement our annual production, be a gathering place and serve as a cross-disciplinary landmark for studies as diverse as biology, poetry, botany, and theater. Although there are some impressive Shakespeare gardens in the country, few really have an inclusive academic focus,” said Dr. Craig Rosen, professor of theater and Academic Theater Program coordinator.
Dr. Rosen worked with Rick Brennan, director of Campus Operations, and Sid’s Greenhouses to design and create the garden. The brick walkway is typical for an English garden, but the oblong shape of the space is not, although it mimics the contours throughout campus. At the southern section of the garden are three concrete benches on a sloped hill, created to provide seating for students should a teacher use the area for class, Dr. Rosen added.
“On this 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, we can hope his legacy lasts another 400 years as does this garden,” Dr. Rosen said.