As we enter 2016, we're launching a series of "Shakespeare 400" initiatives that will include programs in New York, Santa Fe, and Washington. Several will focus on the Folger Shakespeare Library, which is commenorating the playwright's life and legacy with a national tour of First Folios from its incomparable holdings. For background on this extraordinary initaitive, visit the website of Albuquerque station KUNM and you'll find several links of interest, among them one that will permit you to hear Spencer Beckwith's conversation with Mary Kershaw, director of the New Mexico Museum of Art, which is one of the 53 institutions around the nation that will be hosting the Folger exhibition, and Guild president John Andrews, who spent a decade as director of academic programs at the Library.
Among the dozens of Santa Fe activities that will accompany the Folio exhibition, to be on display for most of the month of February, are two that involve the Shakespeare Guild. The first of these gatherings, which took place on Sunday, January 31, at the Lensic Performaning Arts Center, was "Ever the Twain," a revel about Shakespeare in Mark Twain's America that Craig Smith previewed in the Santa Fe New Nexican's Pasatiempo supplement. It played to an enthusiastic, sold-out house, and photographic highlights of it were captured by Steve Rudnick, whose wife Lois co-wrote the script with Jonathan Richards. The second Guild-related event, to occur on Friday, February 19, at the St. Francis Auditorium, will be a conversation with biographer Stephen H. Grant about how the world's largest collection of Shakespeare folios found their way to Capitol Hill.
Because of "Winter Storm Jonas" we were forced to postpone a program that was on the National Arts Club calendar for Monday, January 25, with Janet Alexander Griffin; that engagement, as well as a late-March conversation that had been announced with writer Adam Gopnik, will be rescheduled. Meanwhile we look forward to a Washington luncheon on Tuesday, February 23, with Diana Owen, director of the Shakespeare Trust, and to a Manhattan gathering the next evening at the NAC with Peggy O'Brien. Those engagements will be followed on Monday, March 28, with a program that features director Karin Coonrod.
Looking ahead, we've arranged enticing programs for April 18. May 23, and June 30 with Ralph Alan Cohen of the American Shakespeare Center, Kiernan Ryan of the University of London, and Peter Holland of the University of Notre Dame. All three of these gatherings will occur at the National Arts Club in Manhattan.
In October we were in London's venerable Guildhall for a Gielgud ceremony that took place in conjunction with a gala UK Theatre Awards luncheon on Sunday, October 18. This year's trophy was bestowed on Dame Eileen Atkins, an artist whose versatility both as an acclaimed performer and as a gifted scriptwriter has become legendary. Presenting the 2015 Gielgud Award was our 2008 honoree, Sir Patrick Stewart, and among the many things that made the occasion special was the fact that it occurred only three days after the 94th birthday of a visionary leader who establlished Actors From The London Stage, an influential educational program with which Sir Patrick has been associated from the outset. AFTLS is now celebrating its 40th anniversary, and the Guild saluted this milestone with a special tribute, not only to a highly influential initiative and its founder, Professor Homer "Murph" Swander (center, at a 1998 London reception with john Andrews and Sir Derek Jacobi), but to everyone who has been involved with the outreach it represents, among them such dedicated administrators as Alan and Cynthia Dessen, Peter Holland, Scott Jackson, and actress Eunice Roberts, pictured here in a Matt Humphrey photograph with Sir Patrick Stewart and the Guild's John Andrews.
On Monday, November 30, we returned to the National Arts Club in New York n for a SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE engagement with Columbia University's James Shapiro, who introduced his long-awaited volume on the year 1606, a crucial period during which the playwright completed "Macbeth" and "King Lear" and began work on "Antony and Cleopatra." A few weeks prior to this gathering Professor Shapiro had attended "King Charles III," a fascinating Broadway hit in blank verse by British playwright Mike Bartlett, and he'd talked about its Shakespearean resonances as a "future history play" with both writer Rebecca Mead and the production's starring actor, Tim Pigott-Smith. For a charming account of that occasion, see the December 12 issue of The New Yorker.
We opened the Guild's 2015-16 SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE season on Wednesday, September 23, with eminent critic John Lahr, who joined us at the Hill Center in Washington for a conversation that focused on two volumes, Joy Ride (his latest collection of brilliant New Yorker profiles) and the paperback edition of Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, his award-winning biography of Tennessee Williams. A few days later, on Monday, September 28, we were at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park with Marc Baron, an actor, singer, and director who talked about The Lambs, a venerable club which was founded in 1874 and which provided a setting for the creation of several other key organizations, among them Actors' Equity, the Screen Actors Guild, and ASCAP.
If you wish to join and receive periodic updates from THE SHAKSPEARE GUILD, we invite you to visit our Membership page for types of affiliation. There you'll find a link to a page where you can enroll as a member, book for upcoming engagements, or do both.