The Drama League of America at its 1914 convention had launched plans for “a great national Shakespeare Tercentenary Celebration” which spurred such enthousiasm that individuals organized thousands of large and small events throughout the country.
The New York Times issued a two-month series of articles about Shakespeare by international contributors. From 23 to 27 May, huge crowds attended a huge “community masque” called Caliban by the Yellow Sands at the City College Stadium, staged by its author Percy MacKaye, with some 1,500 amateur participants who performed group dances, choruses, tableaux, pantomime, and processional entries and exits in the interludes between the parts interpreted by professional actors. This was only part of a long list of celebrations organized in and around the city by churches, synagogues, schools, community and recreation centres, clubs… which included a “Shakespearean Circus”, and Houdini’s “Shakespearian denoument”, a planned evasion from a straightjacket above a subway excavation.
At the Metropolitan Opera House, a gala performance of scenes from Julius Caesar was given by Rudolf Christians’s German stock company from the Irving Place Deutsches Theater, with the German ambassador at Washington as “one of the huge German audience that applauded rapturously throughout this celebration of the greatest Englishman”, New York Times, 29 March 1916. The violonist Nahan Franko directed the orchestra in a programme including Beethoven’s Coriolanus and the overture of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.