Speaking of Shakespeare Link

Speaking of Shakespeare
We'd love to welcome you to a pair of special events on Tuesday, June 25, in Manhattan's Gramercy Park -- a 2 p.m. salon with National Arts Club president Linda Zagaria, and a 7 p.m. gathering next door at The Players with New Yorker favorites Roz Chast and Patricia Marx, who'll discuss their illustrated guide to the care and tending of hard-to-please mothers: Why Don't You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?

Meanwhile we're savoring two mid-May gatherings in a SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE series that is now in its third decade. One was a memorable conversation with F. Murray Abraham, who joined us for an 8 p.m. National Arts Club program on Monday, May 13. Best known for the Academy Award he earned as Antonio Salieri in the film version of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, Mr. Abraham has won a new generation of admirers in the role of Dar Adal on Showtime's mesmerizing Homeland series. In 2010 the Guild honored him with a Gielgud trophy during a Grand Gallery ceremony that featured such luminaries as Tom Hulce and Ann Meara and Jerry Stiller, and warm memories of that NAC gala resurfaced as a roomful of admirers enjoyed another special evening with one of today's most charismatic performers. The next afternoon, Tuesday, May 14, we returned to the club's welcoming parlor for a spirited 2 p.m. Salon with John Douglas Thompson, an impressive actor who was earning plaudits as Kent in a Broadway presentation that starred Glenda Jackson in the title role of King Lear.

Looking ahead, we'll we soon be announcing engagements for our 2019-20 season, among them a rescheduled program with
Michael Learned, an actress who garnered three Emmy Awards as Olivia Walton in TV's legendary series The Waltons, but is equally familiar to theatergoers for her roles in such Broadway classics as Edward Albee's Three Tall Women and Gore Vidal's The Best Man. We had to postpone an event with Ms. Learned that had been planned for Tuesday, May 14.

We opened our 2019 programming at 8 p.m. Monday, January 28, in the Grand Gallery of the NAC, where we conversed with actor, director, producer, and author Dakin Matthews. Mr. Matthews is currently riveting audiences as Judge Taylor in a Broadway presentation of To Kill a Mockingbird that has been nominated for multiple Tony Awards. During what turned out to be a memorable evening, he discussed not only his pivotal role in that play but his many contributions to the presentation of other classics on stage and screen. Then, to everyone's surprise and delight, he concluded a special gathering with a brief master class on scansion, focusing brilliantly on ways to approach a famous speech in The Merchant of Venice.

The following night, Tuesday, January 29, we moved next door to the venerable Dining Room and Theatre of The Players for a 7 p.m. gathering with Frog & Peach, a company that was founded by members of The Actors Studio to explore new approaches to Shakespeare's classics. Between February 22 and March 17 this energetic troupe presented Twelfth Night at the Sheen Center (18 Bleecker Street), and director Lynnea Benson and her talented performers offered vivid illustrations of the artistry of an ensemble that has featured such luminaries as Karen Lynn Gorney, Earl Hyman, and Austin Pendleton.

Earlier that day, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday the 29th in the beautiful Parlor of the National Arts Club, the Guild helped inaugurate a new series of Afternoon Salons, focusing a gentle spotlight on Alice Quinn of the Poetry Society of America, who reminisced about her work with some of the most influential writers of our era. Among the participants in this scintillating conversation were two prestigious sculptors, Babette Bloch and Marc Mellon, who were our guests for a similar gathering on Monday, February 25. That evemt was followed a few hours later by an 8 p.m. Speaking of Shakespeare dialogue with acclaimed playwright and director Nagle Jackson.

A few weeks later, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, we moved next door for a special Players evening with multitalented performer Jim Dale, a musical artist who garnered an Oscar nomination as composer of the theme song for "Georgy Girl," an actor who earned acclaim with Laurence Olivier's National Theatre Company and later won a Tony Award for his title role in "Barnum," and a narrator who holds multiple Grammy Awards for his recordings of "Harry Potter." The following day, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, we were back at the NAC for a wide-ranging SOS conversation with Ethan McSweeny, who has worked in such prestigious venues as the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington and has recently become Artistic Director of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia.

We then drew an eventful week to a close on Friday the Ides of March, with an NAC Salon that featured a resonant tour of The Players. Raymond Wemmlinger, who oversees the Hampden-Booth Theatre Library and presides over The Players Foundation, welcomed us to the final home of the club's founder, Edwin Booth. He reminded us that one of the tragedian's favorite protagonists was Brutus, a role he'd played during a benefit presentation of Julius Caesar on November 25, 1864, at New York's Winter Garden Theatre, and one that his younger brother made notorious when he staged his own "lofty scene" five months later at Ford's Theatre in Washington. For background on what has been described as the most dramatic moment in American history, click here and follow the blue links in the opening paragraph.

In April we focused on attractions that commemorated Shakespeare's 455th birthday. The first of these was a 2 p.m. Salon on Tuesday the 23rd, at the National Arts Club with filmmaker Melinda Hall, who provided samples of the fascinating interviews she's recorded with stars such as F. Murray Abraham, Stacy Keach, Sir Ben Kingsley, Estelle Parsons, and Liev Schreiber for a fascinating YouTube series called How Shakespeare Changed My Life. A few hours later we moved next door to The Players for a 7 p.m. presentation of Ever the Twain: William Shakespeare in Mark Twain's America, drawing on a script that had been presented twice at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe. The following day, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday the 24th, we enjoyed an informative session about The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey with Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte.

As we approach this year's summer break, we continue to relish the engagement that concluded our SOS offerings for 2018. It took place on November 26 at The Players, and it featured a tribute to the Drama Book Shop, an institution whose vital assistance to Broadway, and to the nation's performing-arts community as a whole, has been recegnized by a special Tony Award. Among our eloquent speakers were president Rozanne Seelen and vice-president Allen Lee Hubby of the Shop, actors Jim Dale, Jeffrey Hardy, and Peter Maloney, and writer Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker, who emphasized how essential cultural treasures like these are to the civic health of democratic societies. For vital assistance with this event we were indebted, not only to musical artist Shana Farr of The Players, but to such Shop stalwarts as authors Nancy Reardon and Tom Flynn. We now know from a January 8th article in the Times that even more credit belongs to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his Hamliton colleagues, who've purchased the Shop and will soon reopen it in a new location.

To receive periodic updates from The Shakespeare Guild, you're invited to visit our Membership page for types of affiliation. There you'll find a link to a page where you can register for events, enroll as a Guild member, or provide a tax-exempt donation.

Meanwhile, for background on the Guild's signature Speaking of Shakespeare series, which began in 1998 at the National Press Club in Washington, and has included programs at the British Embassy, the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the University Club, and the Woman's National Democratic Club in D.C., the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the Windy City, and such New York institutions as the Algonquin Hotel, the English-Speaking Union, The Lambs, the Princeton Club, and the Schimmel Center, click here. For details about offerings that have been presented in particular seasons, click on the blue link for the year that interests you: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017. And for information about upcoming programs, visit our Current Events page.