‘In celebration of this day with shows, Pageants, and sights of honour.’

Henry VIII, Act 4, scene 1.

Edward Blount

Mr Blounte

Isaac Jaggard

Isaac Jaggard

‘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.

Celebration

Folio400 aims to arrange, encourage and promote an array of shows to celebrate the 400th Birthday of The First Folio, the first printed edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays, in 2023. These currently include (but are not limited to) the following plans;

Folio400 Website

A comprehensive website exploring the Folio’s publication, the people involved, the plays and where the remaining 235 First Folios are today. The site puts together the printed with the spoken word, with leading actors reading from The Munro First Folio. Over 60 original images have been created, made using similar techniques to those of 1623. Folio400 contributors tell us what the Folio means to them. You are there now! 

Exhibition and International Conference

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.”. Shakespeare’s Globe has teamed up with the Deutsches Literartarchiv (DLA) to celebrate the 400th anniversary of this announcement. Entitled ‘Will’s Book, Shakespeare’s First Folio 400 years on’, the event will include an exhibition opening 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 British Library Exhibition

Coming in 2023 The British Library, whose collection includes 5 First Folios (including the wonderful Grenville Copy), will be arranging a First Folio related exhibition in their permanent gallery.

TV Documentary

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. Airing 2023

By kind permission of Pete Le May © 2021

Feature Film

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.

Film Festival

A Festival of Black & White films, including silent ones to be succeeded, perhaps, by a Festival of Great First Folio films in Colour. 

Staged Plays

Many different Shakespeare theatres around the world have diverse and ambitious plans for 2023.  Folio 400 will help promote those projects aimed specifically at the commemoration of the Folio, and help them to link with each other.

The website ‘Touchstone’ is regularly updated, and provides details of nearly all Professional and Amateur Shakespeare productions of Shakespeare plays in the UK. 

The Lord Chamberlain’s Men have already announced that they will be celebrating the Folio’s 400 anniversary with a touring production of Romeo & Juliet. 

By kind permission of Pete Le May © 2021

Opera & Ballet

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);

 

Opera

  • Glyndebourne; Britten’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’
  • La Scala; Verdi’s ‘Macbeth’
  • San Carlo; Verdi’s ‘Macbeth’
  • Longborough; Purcell’s ‘The Fairy Queen’
  • Mid Wales Opera (subject to funding); Berlioz’s ‘Beatrice & Benedict’ and Verdi’s ‘Macbeth’

 

Ballet

  • La Scala Prokofiev’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’

William Jaggard Print House Monument

Folio400 is currently seeking planning permission to place a timeless ‘larger than life’ First Folio on the very site it was printed; William Jaggard’s Print House. Academic and archaeological consensus puts that on the corner of Aldersgate and Barbican, in Lauderdale Place. The bronze book will have the 18 previously printed plays on one side the 18 never before printed plays on the other. Each play ‘forme’ (presented the readable rather than printable way round) will show several notable quotes. It commemorates the Stationers, editors, compositors and press-men who ‘hand delivered’ Shakespeare to us in one volume.

Press Conference & Gala Dinner

On Wednesday the 8th November 2023, the first Folio’s actual 400th Birthday, an International Press Conference will take place, preceded by a re-enactment of the registration. A Charity Gala Dinner will take place in the evening to raise money for the plague-ravaged Globe theatre. 

Webinars

During 2023, Folio400 will arrange interactive webinars to expand, share and discuss various aspects of the First Folio.

Folio Day

Emma Smith (University of Oxford) and Tiffany Stern (Shakespeare Institute), with the backing of the Bodleian Libraries Oxford, are encouraging all Folio-owners to allow their copy to be on public display on Folio Day – 23 April 2023. Contact [email protected] for more details.

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.