Welcome to The Shakespear Guild
We extend warm greetings to those who are new to the GUILD, and gratitude to those who've contributed to the success of our many programs. As you browse these pages, clicking on the blue links that serve as navigating devices, you'll see that we're now using digital formats for most of our engagements. The most recent of these, a festive Shakespeare's Birthday gathering with Oscar laureate F. MURRAY ABRAHAM, was co-hosted by Shana Farr at 6 p.m. on Sunday evening, April 25, and it celebrated THE PLAYERS, a historic institution on Manhattan's Gramercy Park South that was founded by legendary actor Edwin Booth. To watch it, click here.

Another recent event, at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, April 20, focused on playwright DAVID HARE. Sir David took part in our 1999 Gielgud Award presentation to Dame Judi Dench at the Barrymore Theatre in New York, and he himself received our 2017 Gielgud trophy at London's historic Guildhall. To watch a memorable conversation with an extraordinary dramatist, screenwriter, director, and performer, click here.

Looking back to other highlights in a series that has attracted thousands of viewers from around the globe, one was a delightful exchange with IAN MCKELLEN. Sir Ian had received the Guild's inaugural Gielgud Award for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts during a historically resonant 1996 ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington. And he rejoined us Wednesday, March 3, for an NAC@Home program that focused primarily on his dozens of Shakespearean roles. To watch it, click here.

On Wednesday, February 24, we chatted with one of Sir Ian's most cherished theatrical colleagues, JUDI DENCH. The Guild had honored Dame Judi with its 1999 Gielgud trophy at Broadway’s Barrymore Theatre during a gala that featured such luminaries as Keith Baxter, Zoe Caldwell, Rebecca Eaton, David Hare, Hal Holbrook, Robert MacNeil, Ronald Pickup, Toby Stephens, and Christopher Plummer. To enjoy this charming visit to Dame Judi's home a few miles south of London, click here.

In late December we saluted RICHARD EYRE, who oversaw Britain's National Theatre during a decade that featured such triumphs as a touring Richard III, with Sir Ian McKellen in the title role, and the global premiere of Angels in America. A young Judi Dench influenced Sir Richard's decision to become a director, and he took part in the 1999 Gielgud ceremony that paid tribute to her. Sir Richard has also enriched our lives with a number of cinematic gems, among them Iris and Notes on a Scandal, both of which starred Dame Judi, and a recent King Lear with Sir Anthony Hopkins in the title role. Click here for a riveting hour with one of our most visionary dramatic artists.

We'll soon be announcing future engagements, among them one with ROSEMARY HARRIS, who took part in our 2004 Gielgud Centenary Gala. A member of the Broadway Hall of Fame, Ms. Harris is celebrated not only for her acclaimed stage performances on both sides of the Atlantic, but for her stellar roles on film and television.

Meanwhile, looking back to what now seems like a previous era, in October of 2019 we celebrated the 25th anniversaries of two Gielgud milestones (the establishment of an award in Sir John's name, and the renaming of a venue that had been known as the Globe when he performed there) with festivities in honor of producer CAMERON MACKINTOSH that took place in a pair of historic settings: the venerable Guildhall in the City of London and the newly-refurbished Gielgud Theatre in London's West End. It was Sir Richard Eyre, who'd been honored in Sir John's name the previous year, who bestowed our trophy on Sir Cameron.

While those GIELGUD festivities were taking place in the UK, the Guild was augmenting its popular SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE offerings in Manhattan's Gramercy Park, with new attractions such as Afternoon Salons at the National Arts Club and an expanding roster of performance-focused engagements next door at The Players.

And out West, in the Land of Enchantment, after several seasons of support for productions at St. John's College and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, the Guild was broadening its scope through new liaisons with organizations such as Journey Santa Fe, the Lensic Performing Arts Center (contributing "Great Conversations" to its online programming), the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, the New Mexico Actors Lab, and Theatre Santa Fe.

For detail about these and other endeavors, we encourage you to browse these pages, clicking on the blue links that serve as navigation keys to an ever-expanding array of enriching material. Among other things, you'll observe that we've broadened our
BACKGROUND section to provide a rich variety of perspectives on Shakespeare's world, work, and influence, many of them featuring unique contributions by or about eminent actors, directors, producers, playwrights, historians, critics, arts journalists, and other cultural leaders.

We'll be delighted if you wish to support our activities, either by enrolling or renewing as a Guild member or by assisting us with a tax-exempt donation. By design most of our offerings are admission-free; but of course that doesn't mean they're cost-free. So any help you provide will be gratefully received and promptly acknowledged.

ONLINE SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE PROGRAMS

On September 13 the Guild joined Santa Fe's Lensic Performing Arts Center, for a lively dialogue with JIM DALE, a celebrated and remarkably versatile performer who garnered an Oscar nomination as lyricist for the theme song in "Georgy Girl," who won a Tony Award for his title role in "Barnum," and who holds multiple Grammy Awards for his evocative recordings of "Harry Potter." Click here to enjoy the charming anecdotes he shared with Lensic executive director Joel Aalberts and Guild president John Andrews about his brilliant career as a singer, composer, actor, director, raconteur, and narrator.

And click here to watch a resonant conversation with Harvard's STEPHEN GREENBLATT that was recorded in late June but held for realease until August 19. It was a wide-ranging exchange that commenced with a discussion of the prescient op-ed that Professor Greenblatt published in the New York Times a few weeks before America's 2016 presidential election. It then focused on Tyrant, his 2018 volume about Shakespeare's insights into how corrupt authoritarians seize and maintain power. From there it proceeded to a broader consideration of the classical education a budding playwright received in grammar school, and the ways in which it equipped him to produce the masterpieces that led a fellow dramatist, Ben Jonson, to eulogize him in the 1623 First Folio as an artist who was "not of an age, but for all time." For a vivid illustration of how Professor Greenblatt's books and articles are influencing today's political discourse, see a recent Times column by Maureen Dowd.

On June 23 we arranged a special afternoon session with F. MURRAY ABRAHAM, a gathering that permitted the Guild to introduce an actor who grew up in the Southwest to his many admirers at Santa Fe's Lensic Performing Arts Center. To watch this conversation, click here. A few weeks later, on August 12, we enjoyed a delightful National Arts Club exchange with actor JOHN DOUGLAS THOMPSON. He had recently portrayed the Duke of York in the New York Public Theater's WNYC audio presentation of Richard II, and that was one of the many topics we addressed with him. To watch this engaging dialogue, which had been promoted by both Broadway World and Thought Gallery and attracted viewers and pertinent questions from around the nation, click here.

Many of the viewers who joined us for that event had also participated in a May 26 dialogue with JAMES SHAPIRO of Columbia University. Click here to watch an NAC discussion that explored Shakespeare in a Divided America, a timely volume that the New York Times has recently identified as one of The Ten Best Books of 2020.

As we recall the days before Covid-19 changed our lives, many of us are now feeling nostalgic about evenings such as the one that occurred on February 26 at The Players (16 Gramercy Park South in Manhattan) with two of America's most distinguished visual artists, illustrators JAMES MCMULLAN and EDWARD SOREL. This exchange, which took place in the club's stately Hampden-Booth Library, was recorded by Ed's son, Leo Sorel, and thanks to him and his colleague James Salzano we hope to make it available soon on YouTube.

Because of the Trumpidemic that followed that special occasion, we've postponed several of our signature SOS offerings. Yet to be rescheduled, either as programs with in-person attendees or as online offerings, are conversations with Ron Rosenbaum (a prolific journalist whose publications include The Shakespeare Wars), with Shana Farr (a gifted cabaret singer), and with Scott Newstok (an esteemed scholar who's drawing upon "Lessons from a Renaissance Education" to explain How to Think Like Shakespeare).

During the interim we encourage you to revisit a newly-resonant 2007 C-SPAN2 interview with E. R. Braithwaite, the author who gave us To Sir, With Love, a globally-renowned, best-selling 1959 memoir about racial struggles in post-war London that provided Sidney Poitier with one of his finest roles in an award-winning film whose theme song, recorded by Lulu, was Billboard magazine's top single of 1967. For more detail about Ambassador Braithwaite, who died in 2016 at the age of 104, visit OTHER OFFERINGS.

For information about previous highlights in the Guild's two decades of SPEAKING engagements, not only at multiple venues in New York, but at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the Windy City, at the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, and at such institutions as the British Embassy, the National Press Club, the University Club, and the Woman's National Democratic Club in Washington, click here.

THE GUILD'S 2019 GIELGUD AWARD CEREMONY IN LONDON

As noted above, our most recent Gielgud Award, presented on Monday, October 28, 2019, paid tribute to the extraordinary achievements of Sir Cameron Mackintosh. Once again our Award festivities took place in conjunction with the UK Theatre Awards Luncheon. And once again our Award selection was featured in Broadway World and The Stage. As it happened, however, this celebration occurred, not as usual in London's venerable Guildhall on Sunday, October 27, but at the beautiful Gielgud Theatre the following afternoon. As you'll see if you click on a brief overview about the gathering, it proved to be a memorable occasion, and one that paid tribute not only to our 2019 Award recipient but to Clive Francis, the actor and visual artist whose caricatures are among the highlights of a venue that is now a shrine to the Gielgud legacy.

Fifteen years earlier, on April 19, 2004, the Guild had joined the RSC and RADA in that resonant setting for a remarkable Gielgud Centenary Gala. Our 2019 gathering vividly recalled that occasion. But it also commemorated two anniversaries that date back a quarter of a century: (a) the establishment of a new award in Sir John's name, which was announced on April 24, 1994, at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, and (b) the renaming of a venue on Shaftesbury Avenue that had been known as the Globe prior to November 2, 1994, when it became the Gielgud Theatre in recognition of Sir John's exemplary accomplishments, not least among them fifteen major productions in that prestigious setting.

Bestowing our 2019 trophy was Sir Richard Eyre, who was busy directing a revival of Mary Poppins at London's Prince Edward Theatre. In addition to his many achievements in the profession for which he is best known, Sir Richard is a distinguished producer, filmmaker, and author, and it was he who received our 2018 Gielgud Award at that year's UK Theatre Awards luncheon. Sir Richard's riveting television production of King Lear, with Sir Anthony Hopkins in the title role, had debuted a few weeks earlier on Amazon Prime Video. Meanwhile his evocative feature film, The Children Act, starring Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, and Fionn Whitehead in a screenplay by novelist Ian McEwan, was gripping filmlovers around the globe. And if those credits were not enough, Sir Richard was also directing Laura Linney in My Name Is Lucy Barton, a "beautifully nuanced solo performance" (to quote Michael Billington of The Guardian) that would open on Broadway in January 2019.

Our 2018 award had been presented by Sir Ian McKellen, the Guild's inaugural Gielgud laureate, who was himself appearing in a West End staging of King Lear that had been shared cinematically with audiences throughout the world. When he'd received his own trophy, during a ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library on May 20, 1996, Sir Ian had graced the occasion not only with praise for Sir John, but with a powerful recitation from The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore, relating the words that Shakespeare had composed for the script's title character to remarks that Justice Anthony Kennedy had uttered earlier that day while he was delivering a pivotal Supreme Court ruling that "no state may 'deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.'"

As he bestowed the 2018 Gielgud trophy, Sir Ian recalled how much Sir John did, not only to exemplify meticulous standards in his own presentations of Shakespeare and other playwrights, but to encourage and support the efforts of other performers, among them those who were just beginning their careers. Sir Ian extolled Richard Eyre for the same qualities, and he emphasized how much everyone who cherishes the dramatic arts has benefited from his many contributions to our cultural lives.

In response, Sir Richard praised McKellen as "a wonderful actor and a very good friend, and the natural artistic son of John Gielgud." And he amplified Sir Ian's remarks about Sir John, observing that Gielgud's focus on building strong repertory ensembles prepared the way for such extraordinary institutions as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. With this in mind he noted, in an aside that was fervently applauded by an appreciative UK Theatre audience, that he was "constantly bewildered by the fact that local authorities and government can't see what an extraordinary, unique asset" such treasures are, not only in London but throughout the United Kingdom.

Media accounts of the festivities included stories in BBC News, BT.com, Irish News, and York Press. Click here for visual highlights of a deeply moving occasion. And click here for background on the Award.

GARDEN-FRESH SHAKESPEARE IN SANTA FE

During the summers of 2017 and 2018 the Guild co-hosted SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN, joining the Santa Fe Botanical Garden and Shakespeare in Santa Fe on productions of The Tempest in 2017 and A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2018. During the summer of 2019 we collaborated with Santa Fe Classic Theater on a presentation of Romeo and Juliet that ran from May 31 through June 9 and was glowingly reviewed by the Santa Fe Reporter. Once again tickets sold rapidly, and we were immensely grateful for the Bardtenders who joined us for another season of theatrical charm. For background on the play, attendees were referred to a Routledge anthology of commentary about what is often described as the world's most resonant love story. They also enjoyed a KSFR radio feature about the production, hosted by SFBG's Clayton Bass and Lindsay Taylor and featuring director Patrick Briggs and Guild president John Andrews.

As we put the finishing touches on our third presentation of SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN, we were still relishing what the Guild had co-produced on Santa Fe's bustling Museum Hill in previous summers. For details about a 2018 Dream show that was warmly welcomed, for example, click here. And for background on the presentation, see Jennifer Levin's article about "The Ecology of Shakespeare" in Pasatiempo and listen to radio interviews in which the Garden's Clayton Bass and the Guild's John Andrews talked with KSFR host Lynn Cline. Also of interest might be a program that Peter Lloyd hosted with musician Mary Springfels and Mr. Andrews on KSFR's "Classical Sunday."

To encourage supporters to help sustain the work of a dramatist who was still electrifying audiences in his 454th year, we established a Bardtenders support group for SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN. And we offered cultivation events such as a TLC dialogue that took place Tuesday, July 31st. This gathering, under the auspices of Theatre Santa Fe, followed a March 29th Food for Thought dinner at La Fonda on the Plaza and a May 29th benefit, Ever the Twain, which took place at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Under the direction of Lois Rudnick and Jonathan Richards, this revival of a fantasia that enchanted attendees in January 2016 was enthusiastically received, and those who arranged it were eager to revive it in other settings.

As we relished the highlights of our 2018 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, we were also savoring an SFBG rendering of The Tempest that graced the Garden amphitheater in August 2017. More than 1500 attendees applauded a show that featured superb acting, charming music and special effects, and an exquisite set by designer Jay Bush. To learn more about SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN 2017, read the informative background article by Jennifer Levin and a review by James M. Keller in Pasatiempo, the Santa Fe New Mexican's weekly cultural supplement.

This production was brilliantly directed by Nagle Jackson, who'd helped artistic director Rachel Kelly preside over several seasons of Shakespeare in Santa Fe between 1997 and 2002. Mr. Jackson had returned to La Tierra Encantada in 2013 for a sprightly St. John's College medley that proved to be a complete Delight, indeed one that Mr. Keller described in Pasatiempo as that summer's "most endearing revival." Our 2017 Tempest took place in a magic circle that evoked such predecessors as the amphitheaters of Greek antiquity, the "Wooden O" that Shakespeare evokes in his prologue to Henry V, and the Zia Sun Symbol that adorns the New Mexico flag. Pulsating with reminders that an aging playwright was scripting his valedictory drama at the same time that a Spanish army was seeking to establish a "brave new world" on terrain which had been occupied for centuries by earlier settlers, this rendering of a classic score proved especially pertinent for audiences in the Southwest.

For an overview about The Tempest, attendees were encouraged to read the foreword that Sir John Gielgud generously contributed to John Andrews' 1994 Everyman Shakespeare edition of the play, as well as the Editor's Introduction that followed it. They also enjoyed Ellen Berkovitch's KSFR radio feature about Shakespeare in the Garden, as well as conversations with KVSF host Richard Eeds and KBAC host Honey Harris. In response to the show, several wrote letters that appeared in the New Nexican. And a few weeks after the production concluded, Mr. Andrews offered some late-September "Reflections on The Tempest" as part of a lecture series that he'd inaugurated a quarter of a century earlier at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.