‘In celebration of this day with shows, Pageants, and sights of honour.’
Henry VIII, Act 4, scene 1.
‘Entered for their copy under the hands of Master Doctor Worrall and Master Cole, warden; ‘Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies’
From the entry of The First Folio on the 8th November 1623 in the Stationers’ Register at The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, Ave Maria Lane, London.
The BBC has made a three-part docudrama ‘Rise of a Genius’ and will be showing a number of archive performances of Shakespeare plays throughout October and November.
A full list of the BBC’s content across TV, Radio, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds can be found on the BBC website
All Episodes of ‘Rise of a Genius’ will be available on the iPlayer from November 8th.
Celebrate Folio400 with Troubadour Stageworks on their 12-hour Shakespeare Marathon on Wednesday 8th November 2023 at Dr. Johnson’s House.
8 of Shakespeare’s plays will be woven together over their 12-hour marathon, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, All’s Well That Ends Well, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard III, Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night and ‘Fix Folio’ (36 Shakespeare Plays in 45 minutes).
The performance is free and can be viewed online or in person at Dr. Johnson’s House, Gough Square, London.
The Folio Society commemorates William Shakespeare and the 400th anniversary of the First Folio with a magnificent new edition of The Complete Plays. Each set has been meticulously hand-crafted by skilled artisans, passionate about bookmaking, at the Smith Settle bindery in Yorkshire. The elegant bindings, inspired by 16th-century blackwork embroidery, are of linen and silk, woven on a Jacquard loom at Stephen Walters & Sons in Sussex, and the exquisite illustrations are by Neil Packer, an acknowledged master of the art.
Dame Judi Dench and Gregory Doran, Artistic Director Emeritus at the Royal Shakespeare Company, have written the foreword and introduction for this landmark edition of just 1,000 hand-numbered sets.
The British Library are publishing a truly authentic (in size, paper, look and feel) Facsimile First Folio to celebrate the 400th anniversary of its publication. It includes a separate 6-page introduction and is presented in a handsome slip case. John Lee, Publisher at The British Library told Folio400 “I have no words for our forebears in the seventeenth century-their application and skills were clearly breath-taking but, I suspect, the process to have been quite terrifying and overwhelming at points.” The Facsimile source is the wonderful ‘Phelps-Clifford First Folio’, a rare ‘complete copy’ graded IIB by Sidney Lee which is one of only 4 copies containing the Shakespeare Droeshout engraving in its earliest, uncorrected, form.
Whilst free access is available to many digital copies of the First Folio on line, this presentation in its original folio book format, helps students of all ages, everywhere, to understand how we were ‘given’ Shakespeare in 1623. With a relatively accessible price point (for a 912 page hardback), it is hoped that all Secondary Schools, Universities and Libraries, both here and abroad will house one.
The British Library First Folio Facsimile can be ordered now for delivery 5th October 2023.
The British Library have also made available their official press release which you can download here.
Celebrate Folio400 with a special edition Sterling Silver Shakespeare fountain pen, made by British pen manufacturers, Conway Stewart. 18 of the plays in the First Folio were most likely typeset from hand written scripts. Describing their good friend’s writing, Heminge and Condell wrote (in the Epistle ‘To The Great Variety of Readers’) “His mind and hand went together: And what he thought, he uttered with that easinesse, that we have scarse received from him a blot in his papers.”
The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Bankside, London. An archetype of an indoor Jacobean theatre, the kind of performance space that Shakespeare and the Kings Men would recognise.
Shakespeare North, Prospero Place, Prescot, Liverpool is a Shakespeare era playhouse, based on the ‘Cockpit-in-Court’ theatre of 1630 and earlier designs by Inigo Jones.
The ‘Blackfriars Playhouse’, American Playhouse Centre, Staunton, Virginia, USA. Based on architectural drawings by Simon Basil (1605), Inigo Jones (1616) and John Webb (1629).
Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564 and died there 52 years later in 1616, having retired from his London writing life.
The First Folio was published in November 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death.
Holy Trinity Church, Stratford is where Shakespeare was baptised, worshipped and is buried. Both his monument and his tomb inside the Church are mentioned in the L. Digges poem ‘TO THE MEMORIE of the deceased Author Master W. SHAKESPEARE.’ in the preliminary pages of the First Folio (1623).
Stratford is home to the Royal Shakespeare Company. They create world class theatre, made in Stratford and shared around the world. They have 3 theatres (The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, The Swan Theatre and The Other Place). They also tour and regularly perform in London. Their 2023 Shakespeare season is dominated by plays that may have been lost without the publication of the First Folio.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon and promotes the engagement of his works, life and times all over the world.
Immerse yourself in sixteenth century Stratford-upon-Avon; explore the very room where William Shakespeare sat in the 1570s and where he wrote his first works. Discover the space where young William saw plays performed by the finest actors of the day and where he was inspired to become the world’s greatest playwright.
Attend The Shakespeare Birthday Lecture & One Day Conference on Friday 21st April.
£15 on line, £40 in person.
Folio400 has teamed up with Yorick Entertainment and the American Movie Channel (AMC) to make a documentary on how the First Folio came to be. A book put together, printed and initially sold in the City of London 400 years ago, it delivered Shakespeare’s plays to us and has become ‘one of the greatest wonders of the literary world’. Filming began in July 2022. ‘Will’s Book’ will be aired later in 2023.
Using imagination and wit to fill the gaps between the facts we know, this will be an inspirational, humorous and human story telling how the First Folio came to be, and how it very nearly came not to be. A story has been written by Dominic Dromgoole, and a screenplay written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman.
In late November 2022, Folio400 failed to obtain planning permission to place a timeless ‘larger than life’ First Folio on the site it was printed; William Jaggard’s Print House, in Lauderdale Place on The Barbican Estate. The City Arts Initiative had concerns about the lack of artistic merit is Folio400’s original design. Taking on board their comments, a second, simpler design was put forward in marble and brass. Discussions are ongoing.
A number of Opera and Ballet Houses have already announced the inclusion of Shakespeare inspired operas in their 2023 repertoires; These include (but are not limited to);
Berlioz’s ‘Beatrice & Benedict’
Based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing
Sung and spoken in English
Beatrice and Benedict are both determined to stay single. Beatrice is a woman who despises men (especially Benedict) and Benedict can’t abide women (particularly Beatrice). That is until their friends plot to bring them together and they both ‘accidentally’ overhear whispers of each other’s unrequited passion; the spark of love is ignited by gossip and quickly becomes a blazing wildfire.
Berlioz’s final opera sets to music the wild and illogical whirlwind of falling in love, bringing a rich warmth of invention to Shakespeare that virtually no other composer has achieved. Indeed, Berlioz’s life-long passion for Shakespeare is evident throughout his miraculous score, radiant with love and sparkling with energy, and including the famous central nocturne duet, perhaps the most beautiful thing Berlioz ever wrote.
We have started a collection of noteworthy publications, both recent and upcoming, relating to the First Folio. More to come shortly…
Tensions in London’s East End are rising and Shylock, a resilient single mother and hard-working business woman, is desperate to protect her daughter’s future.
A Trafalgar Theatre Productions and Eilene Davidson Productions, in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Opens 21st September 2023 at the Stratford-upon-Avon Swan Theatre RSC and goes on to tour across the UK with dates currently scheduled into 2024.
By Charlie Dupré (2022).
It is 1623, and 17-year old John has come to London to work as an apprentice typesetter, under the mentorship of printer Isaac Jaggard, on a potentially game-changing new commission. But having persuaded Isaac to let him progress to setting from a confusing manuscript of ‘Macbeth’, John’s trauma begins to spill out onto the print shop floor. Why were those men so scared of his mother? And why are these children scurrying around with sheets of drying ink called… ‘devils’?
A play about the hidden fingerprints of history – produced in conjunction with the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio – that asks who the storytellers really are.
Omnibus Theatre, 1 Clapham Common Northside, SW4 0QW
19th September – 7th October
By Lauren Gunderson (2017).
After the death of their friend and mentor, the two actors are determined to compile the First Folio and preserve the words that shaped their lives. They’ll just have to borrow, beg, and band together to get it done. Amidst the noise and colour of Elizabethan London, The Book of Will finds an unforgettable true story of love, loss, and laughter, and sheds new light on a man you may think you know.
Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch 27th April – 13th May 2023 – Tickets
Octagon Theatre, Bolton 17th May – 3rd June 2023 – Tickets
Shakespeare North, Prescot 19th October – 11th November 2023 – Tickets
‘Nay, Remember Me!’ by Amelia Marriette (2001) published by Lazy Bee Scripts (2018)
Nay, Remember Me! was first performed as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Fringe Festival at the Other Place Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2001 to sell out audiences.
There will be new production at the Coach House Theatre in Malvern, Worcestershire, as part of the Malvern Folio 400 Festival – a week-long celebration of all things Folio related! The festival will run from the 5th to the 11th of November, 2023.
The 1632 Theatre Company presents ‘Queer Folio’, A celebration of LGBTQ+ creativity in response to the First Folio. 30 new pieces co-created by LBGTQ+ artists and community groups inspired by the First Folio.
Shakespeare Unbound is a one-man play by Colin David Reese that explores a life in theatre as seen through the eyes of John Heminges.
An abridged version of the play can be seen for free online on Saturday 18 March 2023, 8:30pm–11:30pm CET. The video of the full-length play can also be purchased from Reese’s website.
Between April – June 2023, the National Library of Israel released a series of lectures concerning William Shakespeare and his enduring legacy, featuring prominent figures from Israel’s cultural and academic sphere. This series of 4 lectures can be viewed below. More background info on each lecture can be found on the NLI website.
Yair Sherman stands out as a rising and promising new presence within the realm of Israeli theater. He has orchestrated a series of noteworthy Shakespearean productions at both the Gesher Theater and the Beit Lessin Theater in Tel Aviv. In the upcoming conversation, Sherman engages in a dialogue with Dori Parnes, an accomplished Shakespeare translator, delving into the enduring relevance and timeless essence of Shakespeare’s theatrical creations. The discourse also encompasses Sherman’s individual captivation with Shakespeare, while scrutinizing the pertinence of Shakespeare’s oeuvre in the context of modern Israeli culture and contemporary societal dynamics.
In the preceding year, the National Library of Israel was bestowed with a splendid inheritance of antiquarian books dating back to the early modern era. Among these treasures, three stand as original editions of Shakespearean works from the seventeenth century, while an additional pair hails from the eighteenth century, bearing a connection to Samuel Johnson’s seminal “Dictionary of the English Language,” eventually unveiled in 1755.
In this forthcoming presentation, Dr. Micha Lazarus from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Dr. Stefan Litt, the Humanities Curator at the National Library of Israel, converge to narrate the narrative encapsulated within these five volumes. This narrative elucidates how, via the art of printing, “Shakespeare evolved into Shakespeare” across the span of a century and a half subsequent to his demise.
“The Merchant of Venice” assumes the label of a “problem play” due to its inherent contradictions, its historical and contemporary links with both anti- and philo-Semitism, and the evolving portrayal of Shylock across theatre and cinematic renditions. Unravelling Shylock’s enigmatic nature, as well as comprehending the playwright responsible for his creation, has proven to be a challenging endeavour for audiences, readers, critics, and educators alike. This intricate web of complexities transforms the play into not only a dramatic enigma but also a didactic puzzle, particularly within the context of an Israeli college classroom. To paraphrase Shakespeare—to teach or not to teach? And if to teach—how?
In this forthcoming discourse, Dr. Emmy Leah Zitter, Head of the English Department and Senior Lecturer in Literature at Michlalah-Jerusalem College, as well as a Senior Lecturer at Shaanan College, will delineate an innovative pedagogical approach to instructing “The Merchant of Venice.” By delving into an unconventional theoretical perspective, Dr. Zitter aims to enhance students’ comprehension and accessibility to the play, making its intricacies more accessible.
Ronen Sonis, a distinguished translator renowned for his poetic renditions, engages in an interview with Dori Parnes, a prolific translator responsible for the translation of 31 Shakespeare plays and counting. The discourse gravitates toward the intricacies posed by the translation of Shakespeare’s oeuvre into the rejuvenated Hebrew language. Additionally, the conversation delves into the nuanced decisions inherent in translating a text designed for auditory engagement on the stage, as opposed to mere textual perusal.
Saturday 26th to Monday 28th August
Willow Globe, Penlanole, Llanwrthwl, Nr Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 6NN
The festivities get underway with the thrilling Coriolanus and then continue over the bank holiday weekend with workshops, talks, films and games.
Marbach (North of Stuttgart)
The First Folio was first announced to the world in the October 1622 Frankfurt Book Fair catalogue; “Playes, written by M. William Shakespeare, all in one volume, printed by Isaak Iaggard, in fol.”. In October 2022, Shakespeare’s Globe teamed up with the Deutsches Literartarchiv (DLA) in Marbach to celebrate the 400th anniversary of this announcement. Entitled ‘Will’s Book, Shakespeare’s First Folio 400 years on’, the event included an exhibition which opened on the 12th October 2022 (including a 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Folio, as well as a Ben Jonson Folio and an array of associated quartos and other artefacts), a series of performance events and a 2 day International Conference ‘Shakespeare-An International Legacy’. (October 13th and 14th 2022).
The list is by no means exhaustive. Folio400 aspires to be as inclusive as the book whose birthday it celebrates. Shakespeare wrote for us all; he shows us all what it is to be human. Folio400 welcomes any other ideas from anywhere, and offers the opportunity to share them on this platform.