St. John’s College, Annapolis, recently named Maryland’s host site for the “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” national tour, is pleased to announce that the First Folio exhibition will be on view to the public from November 1 through December 4, 2016 at the Mitchell Gallery at St. John’s College.
“St. John’s College, and partners the Annapolis Shakespeare Company and the Maryland Humanities Council, are excited to announce that Annapolis, Maryland can now plan to experience first-hand the wonder and rareness of the First Folio,” said St. John’s College Library Director Cathy Dixon. “From Shakespeare aficionados to students studying the Bard’s plays for the first time, this exhibit is a rare opportunity for people in Maryland to experience one of the most influential books in history.”
Sally Boyett, artistic director of the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, said that the Company is planning a series of events to coincide with the book’s arrival. Actors will read plays, children will dress in period costumes, and state leaders will be invited to read passages. “Our mission is to show Shakespeare as being relevant to modern audiences,” said Boyett.
“First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” will tour all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, beginning in January 2016. A full list of host sites and tour dates is available at www.folger.edu.
The First Folio will be opened to the most quoted line from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” “to be or not to be.” A multi-panel exhibition exploring Shakespeare’s impact, then and now, will be accompanied by digital content and interactive activities.
Sally Boyett, artistic director of the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, said that the Company is planning a series of events to coincide with the book’s arrival. Actors will perform excerpts from plays, children will dress in period costumes and state leaders will be invited to read passages. “Our mission is to show Shakespeare as being relevant to modern audiences,” said Boyett.
The First Folio is the first complete collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623 seven years after his death. Compiled by two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors, it preserves 36 of Shakespeare’s plays. Without it, we would not have 18 of those plays, including “Macbeth,” “Julius Caesar,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Tempest,” and “Antony and Cleopatra.”
Thanks to the First Folio, generations have experienced Shakespeare’s lasting influence on language, culture, theater, music, education, and more. There are 233 known copies in the world today, with 82 copies held by the Folger Shakespeare Library. One of the most valuable printed books in the world, a First Folio sold for $6.2 million in 2001 at Christie’s and another one for $5.2 million in 2006 in London. It originally sold for one British pound (20 shillings)—about $200 today.
“At the Folger Shakespeare Library, we’re looking forward to taking the books out of our vaults in 2016 and on the road,” said Michael Witmore, Folger Shakespeare Library Director. “We’re excited to see the many different ways that communities across the country will be celebrating Shakespeare—in performances, poetry slams, lectures, and more.”
“First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the generous support of Google.org and Vinton and Sigrid Cerf. Opportunities are available to sponsor this major exhibition and the Folger’s other “Wonder of Will” programs commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Learn more at www.folger.edu.