Speaking of Shakespeare Link

John Andrews
For a brief biography of Mr. Andrews, click here. And for details about his multifaceted career as an educator, writer, editor, events producer, and program host, click on the blue links in the paragraphs that follow.

Among the many subjects that Mr. Andrews has addressed as an author and speaker is the influence that Shakespeare has long exerted on modern culture. In a 1989 program note for Washington's WETA Magazine, for example, he brought a whimsical approach to the playwright's extraordinary hold on New World audiences. But most of Mr. Andrews' commentary has been more weighty in import. In 2011, for example, he joined historian Dwight Pitcaithley as co-author of a New York Times column about America's Civil War as a tragedy that recalled Shakespeare's treatment of such Old World conflicts as the Wars of the Roses. That contribution drew on Mr. Andrews' October 1990 article in The Atlantic, where he approached the Lincoln assassination as an event that recalled such dramas as Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and Macbeth. This is a topic that Mr. Andrews has also explored in Humanities magazine, as well as in remarks for members of the Smithsonian Associates, for voyagers on the legendary QE2, for audiences at institutions such as the University of Cambridge and Johns Hopkins University, for aficionados of NPR's Sunday "Weekend Edition," for those who listen to the Voice of America, and for viewers of documentaries produced by NPR and PBS. In 2017 Mr. Andrews revisited the Ides of March with reporter Ellen Berkowitz on Santa Fe's KSFR, and a few weeks later he explored its contemporary implications as he responded to a Washington Post column about a controversial production of Julius Caesar in Central Park.

For a selection of Mr. Andrews' op-eds and letters to the editor, many of which draw upon the playwright for perspectives on current affairs, see his remarks about Boring Headlines, Contraspeak, and Sarah Palin in the Washington Post, and about Eliot Spitzer, John McCain, Donald Trump, Sean Spicer, Privatizer Ryan, Tweety Bird, Rebranding Today's GOP, Promised End, and the real Russian Hoax in the Santa Fe New Mexican. And see James M. Keller's interview with Mr. Andrews in Pasatiempo for comments about a January 2014 "NT Live" presentation of Coriolanus.

You may also wish to look at a few of Mr. Andrews' reviews for the Washington Post and The American Scholar, and explore the coverage he's received in periodicals like The Chronicle of Higher Education (both before and after the BBC series known as The Shakespeare Plays), Time, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times Magazine (a column that prompted a delightful exchange with Russell Baker), The Washington Post, U.S.News and World Report, and the Washington Times.

Mr. Andrews assisted BBC Radio 4 with two Any Questions? programs and with two lectures in honor of Alistair Cooke, the first in London in 2005 with Senator John McCain as speaker, the second in Santa Barbara in 2008 with playwright David Mamet as speaker. In October of 2004 Mr. Andrews had attended a Westminster Abbey memorial service for Mr. Cooke and participated in deliberations preceding the service that explored various ways to celebrate Mr. Cooke and his legacy.

Meanwhile, between 2001 and 2007, while he was overseeing the Nation's Capital Branch of the English-Speaking Union, Mr. Andrews presided over more than a dozen C-SPAN events that were recorded for the cable network's weekend Book TV series. And over a period of more than a decade he made several appearances in the late William Safire's "On Language" column for the New York Times Magazine, among them a June 1992 contribution in which he compared Ross Perot to Prospero. In April of 2008 he helped the Nation's Capital Branch of the English-Speaking Union pay tribute to Mr. Safire during a festive reception at the British Embassy.

In 2016, to mark "Shakespeare 400," a global commemoration of the playwright's life and legacy, Mr. Andrews arranged a number of programs in New York, Santa Fe, and Washington. Most of them focused on the Folger Shakespeare Library, which provided a national tour of First Folios from its incomparable holdings. For background on this special initaitive, visit the website of Albuquerque station KUNM, where you'll find several links of interest, among them Spencer Beckwith's conversation with Mr. Andrews and Mary Kershaw, director of the New Mexico Museum of Art. Mr. Andrews was also featured on three other broadcasts, among them one on Albuquerque's KKOB (conducted by news director Pat Allen), and another, February 17, 2016, on Mary Charlotte's "Santa Fe Radio Cafe."

Thousands of readers have enjoyed The Guild Shakespeare, a 19-volume set of the playwright's works that Mr. Andrews produced, in collaboration with graphic artist Barry Moser, for the Doubleday Book and Music Clubs between 1989 and 1992 -- illustrated here by selected material from Volumes One, with eloquent forewords by Helen Hayes and F. Murray Abraham, and Six, with memorable reflections on two of Shakespeare's history plays by Patrick Stewart and Christopher Plummer. Of equal interest is the front matter for Volumes Two, Three, Four, Five, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, and Eighteen, as well as for a supplemental volume devoted to Shakespeare's Sonnets and Poems.

Between 1992 and 1995 Mr. Andrews revised and significantly augmented his Guild Shakespeare editions of the 16 plays to be featured in The Everyman Shakespeare. Like its precedessor, this paperback set retains significant aspects of the original printings and features insightful commentary by prominent actors and directors. For an illustration of what it offers, see the front matter for the Everyman presentation of Antony and Cleopatra, with its charming Foreword by Tony Randall. Other volumes provide texts and facing-page notes for As You Like It, with a foreword by Michael Kahn, Coriolanus, with a foreword by Charles Dance, Hamlet, with a foreword by Sir Derek Jacobi, Julius Caesar, with a foreword by Sir John Gielgud, King Lear, with a foreword by Hal Holbrook, Macbeth, with a foreword by Zoe Caldwell, Measure for Measure, with a foreword by Tim Pigott-Smith, The Merchant of Venice, with a foreword by Kelly McGillis, A Midsummer Night's Dream, with a foreword by F. Murray Abraham, Much Ado About Nothing, with a foreword by Kevin Kline, Othello, with a foreword by James Earl Jones, Romeo and Juliet, with a foreword by Julie Harris, The Tempest, with a foreword by Sir John Gielgud, Twelfth Night, with a foreword by Alec McCowen, and The Winter's Tale, with a foreword by Adrian Noble.

Grateful readers have also welcomed William Shakespeare: His World, His Work, His Influence, Mr. Andrews' 3-volume 1985 Scribners reference collection, an extraordinary and enthusiastically-received encyclopedia, with contributions by such luminaries as Anthony Burgess, Sir John Gielgud, Jonathan Miller, and Sir Peter Ustinov, and its 2001 companion trilogy, Shakespeare's World and Work, designed for teachers and students.

While Mr. Andrews was completing his 1985 Scribners set, he also compiled a wide range of reactions to "Shall I Fly," an unusual lyric that received front-page coverage in the New York Times when editors Gary Taylor and Stanley Wells, believing it to be an early poem by Shakespeare, announced that it would be included in Oxford University Press's forthcoming edition of the playwright's complete works. Two years later Mr. Andrews contributed a biographical overview of Shakespeare's career (here segmented into two parts, one and two, for easier access) to a 1987 reference collection, edited by Fredson Bowers, that focused on Elizabethan Dramatists. And six years later Mr. Andrews compiled -- and contributed a significant article to -- a widely-used anthology of commentary about Shakespeare's most lyrical tragedy, ROMEO AND JULIET: Critical Essays, a 1993 Garland publication that has now been reissued, both in cloth and in paperback, under the Routledge imprint.

For a sampling of Mr. Andrews' views about the early printings of Shakespeare's poems and plays, see "Site-Reading Shakespeare's Dramatic Scores" and "Textual Deviancy in The Merchant of Venice," and read journalist Ron Rosenbaum's comments in The Shakespeare Wars about Mr. Andrews' argument that if our experience of Shakespeare's works is limited to what we find in editions that modernize his language, we're missing a great deal of what the playwright conveys through the spelling, punctuation, and other features of the scripts that introduced these masterpieces to audiences and readers in the 16th and 17th centuries.

For Mr. Andrews' observations on thematic issues in the plays he considers most resonant, see "Ethical and Theological Questions in Shakespeare's Dramatic Works", and take a look at related articles that focus on Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Measure for Measure. For his laudatory remarks about some of the British actors he particularly admires, see MPT's Afternoon Tea. And for his advice to performers who aspire to convey all the magic to be found in Shakespeare's verse (guidelines that derive from his experience both as a dramaturg and as an administrator for the English-Speaking Union's annual Shakespeare Competition, click here.

Mr. Andrews has been listed in Who's Who in America since 1984. In July of 2000 he was inducted into the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire as an Honorary Officer, an OBE. His hometown paper, the Carlsbad Current-Argus, marked the occasion with a lengthy article about a local "Son" who'd been singled out for a special distinction. In 2016 the Cavern City's Mayor, Dale Janway, asked Mr. Andrews to organize and chair a Cultural Development Council; for reporter Kyle Marksteiner's impressions of those who agreed to affiliate with that group, see the Summer 2016 issue of "Focus on Carlsbad." In the years since his return to his native state in late 2007, Mr. Andrews has served on the boards of such local and regional organizations as the New Mexico Humanities Council, community radio station KSFR, and the New Mexico Performing Arts Society. He has recently become an Advisory Trustee for the Museum of New Mexico Foundation joined the board of Theatre Santa Fe.

Details about Mr. Andrews' early years (including his postsecondary education at Princeton, Harvard, and Vanderbilt, and his four years, 1970-74, as a faculty member at Florida State) can be found here. For an overview of his decade (1974-84) as Director of Academic Programs at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and his eleven years (1974-85) as Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, see the Library's annual reports for 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1986.

Mr. Andrews introduced significant changes, both in content and in design, during his editorship of SQ. For a sampling of those developments, see the front matter and selected content for issues published in Summer 1974, Autumn 1974, Winter 1975, Spring 1975, Winter 1976, Summer 1976, Winter 1977, Winter 1978,Spring 1977, Summer 1977, Winter 1978, Spring 1978, Spring 1979, Spring 1980, Summer 1980, Autumn 1980, Summer 1981, Autumn 1981, Summer 1982, Autumn 1982, Spring 1984, Summer 1984, Autumn 1984, Winter 1984, "Teaching Shakespeare" 1984, Spring 1985, Summer 1985, Autumn 1985, Winter 1985, and "Reviewing Shakespeare" 1985, an issue that was itself reviewed in both the Washington Post and the Washington Times. For reviews that Mr. Andrews himself contributed to the Quarterly in subsequent years, see Winter 1988 and Spring 2017.

While he edited the Quarterly, Mr. Andrews also presided over the Library's book publications. Prior to his arrival, most of the Folger's titles had borne the imprint of either Cornell University Press or the University Press of Virginia. What turned out to be the concluding volume from Virginia was John E. Booty's handsome edition of the 1559 Book of Common Prayer, one of two books that were scheduled to coincide with a "Shakespeare in America" world congress in April 1976 that the Library co-hosted with the Shakespeare Association of America, the International Shakespeare Association, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. The second book, Charles H. Shattuck's Shakespeare on the American Stage: From the Hallams to Edwin Booth, commenced as a Virginia publication but was eventually issued under a new imprint, Folger Books, owing to a tight deadline that made it necessary for the Library to take emergency measures to ensure that it was available for a special reception that launched the festivities. Both titles were exceedingly well received, and Professor Shattuck's beautifully illustrated narrative earned a prestigious award from the Theatre Library Association. As a result the Folger commissioned a second volume from him, Shakespeare on the American Stage: From Booth and Barrett to Sothern and Marlowe (published in 1987), that garnered another notable accolade, this time from the American Society for Theatre Research.

An additional long-term publishing project that attracted significant attention was the Folger Library Edition of the Works of Richard Hooker, a multi-volume set under the editorship of W. Speed Hill that was published under the Belknap imprint of Harvard University Press. The Library celebrated that set in 1977 with a British Embassy reception, graciously hosted by Amabassador Sir Peter Ramsbotham and his wife Frances, following a memorable lecture at Washington National Cathedral by Oxford professor Hugh Trevor-Roper; his remarks were published a few weeks later as part of a special holiday edition of the New York Review of Books.

Meanwhile Mr. Andrews was chairing the Folger Institute, an interdisciplinary center for Renaissance and 18th-Century Studies that had been founded by O. B. Hardison in 1969. Details about its multifaceted offerings can be found in brochures for the interdisciplinary seminars that took place in 1975-76, 1976-77, 1977-78, 1978-79, 1979-80, 1980-81, 1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84, and 1984-85. So also for lectures presented under Institute auspices in 1976-77, 1977-78, 1978-79, 1980-81, 1982-83, and 1983-84. In addition to its seminars and lectures, the Institute also organized influential conferences and symposia that focused on such topics as "Three British Revolutions: 1640, 1688, 1776," "English Theatre and the Sister Arts, 1660-1800," "Science and the Arts in the Renaissance," "Hermeticism in the Renaissance," "Calderon: A Baroque Dreamer and Realist," and "Shakespeare on Screen."

So successful were these initiatives that Lawrence W. "Bill" Towner, Director of the Newberry Library in Chicago, asked Mr. Andrews to team up with the leaders of his academic staff -- Dick Brown, Mary Beth Rose, and John Tedeschi -- to establish a consortium similar to the one that Mr. Andrews was overseeing in Washington, a network that had been founded by Folger director O. B. Hardison in 1969 to serve universities in the Middle Atlantic region. Mr. Towner's initiative proved to be an an inspired one, and before long a Newberry Center for Renaissance Studies was thriving in the Midwest. By 1983 the Folger and the Newberry were collaborating on Summer Institutes in the Archival Sciences. And new cooperative ventures were underway that would link those libraries, in what a joint proposal to NEH in 1983 described as "a network of networks," with another pair of independent research facilities in the humanities, the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

Several months before he decided to leave Capitol Hill for a position as Deputy Director of the Division of Education Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities, Mr. Andrews and his Folger colleagues learned that the NEH had approved a grant proposal the Library had submitted in support of a "Folger Institute Center for the History of British Political Thought," an endeavor to be guided primarily by J.G.A. Pocock of Johns Hopkins University. That collaborative effort, which has has proven to be a model of its kind, commenced operations in 1984.

During his time at the Library and for a short time thereafter, Mr. Andrews supplied program notes for productions of the Folger Theatre Group and the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger, as the company was known after 1985, when a new Library Director and the Trustees of Amherst College decided that the operation needed to be reincorporated as a separate fiscal entity (initiating a process that eventually led to what is now the Shakespeare Theatre Company, an institution with no administrative ties to the Folger). Mr. Andrews' introduction to Louis W. Scheeder's staging of Richard III was cited in favorable reviews of the production by Richard L. Coe of the Washington Post and Peggy Eastman of the Fairfax Journal. Also well received were Mr. Andrews' prefatory remarks about Michael Langham's production of The Merchant of Venice, Michael Kahn's productions of As You Like It and Antony and Cleopatra, and Richard E.T. White's production of The Tempest.

Mr. Andrews was also a key participant in the outreach activities that surrounded The Shakespeare Plays, a monumental project that brought 37 BBC productions of the dramatist's classics to American television between 1979 and 1985. As an educational consultant who served on, and eventually chaired, a National Advisory Panel for this endeavor, Mr. Andrews attended a February 1978 luncheon at The Players that launched the initiative, and worked closely with WNET, the Manhattan-based public television station that oversaw the American side of a multifaceted BBC-PBS collaboration. A year later, to help launch the series, he served as a consultant for an audio documentary, "William Shakespeare: A Portrait in Sound," and hosted a "Friends of Thirteen" Lincoln Center lecture series in 1979 that was broadcast on National Public Radio as part of the network's spring NPR Shakespeare Festival. Meanwhile he contributed an article on Henry VIII, one of the six plays in Season One, to a Study Guide co-produced by the University of California, San Diego, and Coast Community College District, and recorded his remarks for an audio package produced by Cassette Curriculum. From that point forward, he oversaw a succession of detailed manuals for community-college teachers around the nation. Typical publications included study guides for "The Second Season" of course offerings, a "Special Season Guide" that drew upon productions from the first two years of the BBC schedule, and a guide to A Midsummer Night's Dream that was compiled by Grant L. Voth for the Bay Area Community College Television Consortium.

In due course Mr. Andrews found himself working with leaders of other postsecondary consortia around the nation, among them a particularly imaginative educator named
Dee Brock of the Dallas Community College District, who suggested that the most appealing of the BBC productions might have more impact if they were repackaged in ways that would make them more accessible both to teachers and students at various levels and to home viewers who often found it difficult to commit an entire evening to even the most successfully-presented masterpieces. This observation struck Mr. Andrews as a brilliant one, and after exploring it to with his colleagues on the National Advisory Panel, he began working with Stone-Hallinan Associates, with the corporate underwriters of "The Shakespeare Plays," and with President Jay Iselin and his dedicated team at WNET/Thirteen. What eventually resulted was a successful grant proproal, submitted under the auspices of Steve Salyer and Marie Squerciati of the station's superb Education Department, to devise a new 15-week series -- featuring five plays and including "mini-documentaries" on themes particular to each program segment that would be genially hosted by Walter Matthau -- that would be billed as The Shakespeare Hour. It aired in the spring of 1986, and among the dozens of warm accolades it received was a welcoming salute in the Washington Post from drama critic Richard L. Coe.

While these initiatives were taking place, Mr. Andrews also promoted the Plays in a variety of supplementary ways. In his capacity as Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, for example, he published interviews with producers Cedric Messina and Jonathan Miller and with actors such as Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen, and commentary by scholars such as Stanley Wells. In his role as Chairman of the Folger Institute, he arranged lectures, seminars, symposia, and NEH-sponsored summer programs for college and university teachers. Meanwhile he took part in conferences, lectured widely, and spoke with journalists such as Clive Barnes of the New York Times and Malcolm Scully and Angus Paul of the Chronicle of Higher Eduaction. And perhaps most important, in his role as head of the Folger's book-publishing operation, he edited Shakespeare: The Globe and the World, a gorgeous and highly-praised book by Sam Schoenbaum that served as the lavishly-illustrated companion volume for a touring exhibition that delighted attendees in eight American cities.

This spectacular show had been proposed by Exxon executive Robert Kingsley, but it required additional funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities and other sources, and Mr. Andrews played a key role in securing support for the undertaking not only from NEH but from several of the corporate sponsors for The Shakespeare Plays. Once Shakespeare: The Globe and the World was funded, Mr. Andrews coordinated not only with such Library personnel as O.B. Hardison (Director), Philip A. Knachel (Associate Director), James P. Elder (Director of Development), Margaret M. Welch (Exhibition Coordinator), and Frank Mowery (Head of Conservation), but with Professor Schoenbaum and with such prominent consultants as Stuart Silver and Clifford LaFontaine of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and content advisors such as designer Irwin Glusker and fundraising guru George Trescher. Mr. Andrews also worked closely with Byron Hollinshead, Director of Oxford University Press, and with such Press personnel as Sheldon Myer and Jerry Sussman. He provided assistance to representatives of the eight musuems around the country that hosted the exhibition and helped organize ancillary activities, many of them quite impressive and most of them supported, at least in part, by NEH grants. He developed viewers' guides, audiovisual materials, and other educational materials, helped with installations as the exhibition opened in new venues, assisted with promotional efforts, and helped arrange lectures, symposia, and other special events, many of them with prominent performers (e.g., Ed Ames and Arte Johnson), directors (e.g., Gerald Freedman and John Houseman), and playwrights (e.g., Tom Stoppard, who helped launch the New York exhibition with a lecture entitled "Is It True What They Say About Shakespeare?").

Several years later, while Mr. Andrews was serving as dramaturg for Summer 1992 productions of The Tempest, Macbeth, and The Merry Wives of Windsor as part of a "Great Shakes Alive" initiative at the Grove Shakespeare Festival in southern California, he accepted a request from Carolynn Reid-Wallace, Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at the United States Department of Education, to compile a policy analysis, Aiming Higher, that would address current issues in American education. His efforts, which drew on years of experience in a variety of pertinent settings, elicited praise from a number of consultants and interim reviewers, among them a prominent university president and leaders in several of the prestigious national organizations that are headquartered at or near One Dupont Circle. Mr. Andrews would have enjoyed disseminating his findings in print, and working with the new Clinton administration on ways to assess and, where pertinment, implement his recommendations. By January of 1993, however, he was working with the London-based publishers of The Everyman Shakespeare, a new paperback set that would build upon the work he'd done for the Guild edition he'd completed a few months earlier for Doubleday Book & Music Clubs.

Looking back, Mr. Andrews finds it sobering to observe how many of the concerns that were being addressed in the 1990s remain pertinent today. For ease of access his reflections are conveyed here in four segments: Aiming Higher (Part One), Aiming Higher (Part Two), Aiming Higher (Part Three), and Aiming Higher (Part Four).

For additional detail about Mr. Andrews, and for information about the cultural leaders who serve on the Guild's Board of Directors and Advisory Council, click here.