Emory celebrates Shakespeare as First Folio's arrival nears
Emory Report | Sept. 27, 2016
The Second, Third and Fourth Folios are now on view in the Rose Library, leading up to an exhibit of the First Folio opening Nov. 5 at the Carlos Museum. Emory is the only site in Georgia to host the First Folio and one of only a few sites to exhibit all of the Folios together.
Four hundred years after his death, William Shakespeare is the focus of a campus-wide celebration at Emory University, with exhibitions, events and performances that honor the genius of the world's most famous playwright.
The centerpiece of the celebration is the arrival of the First Folio, the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, published in 1623, just seven years after his death. The First Folio will be on view at Emory's Michael C. Carlos Museum from Nov. 5 through Dec. 11, the only display of the literary treasure in Georgia.
"The First Folio includes the first printing of many of Shakespeare's plays," explains Emory English professor Sheila Cavanagh, director of the World Shakespeare Project. "If his colleagues had not gathered Shakespeare's works and published them in this volume, we would not have many of the plays we associate most closely with Shakespeare."
Leading up to the arrival of the First Folio, the Second (1632), Third (1663) and Fourth Folios (1685) are currently on display in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library. This special opportunity to view these folios within a broad context is made possible by a loan of the Second and Third Folios from Rose Library benefactor Stuart A. Rose.
“The much-anticipated arrival of the First Folio provides the opportunity for Emory to share with the entire campus and community a more complete understanding of the literary and publishing worldview and to showcase some of our own rare holdings," says Rosemary M. Magee, director of the Rose Library. "Each of the Folios has a story to tell."
In addition to the Folios, the exhibit includes rare materials from the Rose Library collections by Saint Thomas Aquinas (c. 1470), the Caxton Polychronicon (published by Caxton, 1482), and The Workes of Benjamin Jonson (1616), along with other volumes through the 20th century that show both the influences on Shakespeare’s Folios and their enduring significance.
"To the Great Variety of Readers: Publishing Shakespeare" will be on view on the 10th floor of Woodruff Library through Oct. 28.
Building up to the First Folio's arrival
The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring a First Folio in 2016 to all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
Emory was selected as the Georgia host for "First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare" based on a proposal submitted by Magee and Cavanagh, along with others at the Rose Library and the Carlos Museum, that emphasized Emory’s broad base of support and involvement that will speak to people of all ages and backgrounds.
"Emory successfully competed to be Georgia's site on the First Folio Tour, which allows us to share the remarkable resources of our libraries, museum, faculty, performers and students with visitors from across the state and the Southeast," Cavanagh says.
Shakespeare at Emory events began last spring and will continue through this academic year, with a variety of activities, presentations and exhibits hosted by the Carlos Museum, Emory Libraries and Theater Emory.
Last week, Theater Emory launched its 2016-17 season, "Shakespeare Through Many Lenses," with Rodgers and Hart's "The Boys from Syracuse," a musical adaptation of Shakespeare's “The Comedy of Errors.” The first American musical comedy based on a Shakespeare play, the raucous farce runs through Oct. 2 in the Theater Lab of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.
Earlier this month, the Carlos Museum's Carlos Reads Book Club kicked off its fall series with "Titus Andronicus." Guided by Cavanagh, the book club will read and discuss all of Shakespeare's plays set in antiquity, continuing through Dec. 12; the program is filled to capacity.
In addition to the Folio exhibit, Emory Libraries has several other Shakespeare exhibits either on display or soon to open: "A Goodly Commodity: Shakespeare in Popular Culture" (through Feb. 26), "All the World's an eStage: Shakespeare Postcards in a Digital Age" (through May 15), "Othello: The Moor Speaks" (opening Oct. 20) and "Shakespeare Artists' Books" (opening Oct. 20).
The Rose Library also hosts a lecture on Oct. 24, "The Millionaire and the Bard," which provides context for the arrival of the First Folio exhibit. Author and economist Andrea Mays presents a lecture based on her book of the same name, tracing Henry Folger’s obsession with Shakespeare’s First Folio and the creation of the largest First Folio collection in the world.
Other events that start before the First Folio's arrival include the following:
- The University Chorus and Concert Choir presents "Music of Shakespeare" on Oct. 15
- Emory Cinematheque presents four films based on Shakespeare's plays, screening Oct. 16 through Nov. 4;
- The Carlos Museum presents "The Bard in Bollywood," screening Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj's Shakespeare trilogy from Nov. 1 through Nov. 15; Deepika Bahri, of Emory’s English Department, will introduce the film series, which opens with “Maqbool,” Bhardwaj’s interpretation of "Macbeth" set against the backdrop of Mumbai’s criminal underworld.
- Theater Emory presents "Romeo and Juliet" from Nov. 3-13.
Celebrating the First Folio
Once the First Folio arrives on campus, Emory will host several key events celebrating and exploring its place among the world's most famous books.
Shakespeare at Emory's official opening event, set for Nov. 10, welcomes Ayanna Thompson and jazz musician Dwight Andrews, plus special guests, for a program called “Will of the People: Shakespeare’s Folios and Their Meaning in Our World," accompanied by the music of Duke Ellington.
On Dec. 5, the official closing celebration, "The Bard and Song," features former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing, and award-winning poets and Emory professors Kevin Young and Jericho Brown.
In between, Emory will host a wide range of lectures, workshops and family-friendly activities.
Among the highlights:
- On Nov. 11, Margaret Edson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Wit" and survivor of 25 years of classroom teaching, presents a "stand-up essay" exploring the free-wheeling, slapdash world of Elizabethan theater and placing “To Be or Not to Be” smack dab in the middle of it.
- The Carlos Museum hosts family-friendly events including "All the World's a Stage," a storytelling event on Nov. 12, and a bookmaking event on Nov. 20 where children will experiment with bookmaking techniques with Charlene Shikany of Red Wall Studios.
- On Nov. 14, Magee hosts a Creativity Conversation with two Emory alumni, playwright Lauren Gunderson and antiquarian bookseller Daniel Wechsler, on their journeys into the world of Shakespeare.
- On Dec. 5, prior to the closing celebration, Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, discusses the legacy of Shakespeare and the Folger Library’s extensive collection of the Bard in print.
For more details about these and other events, visit Shakespeare at Emory.
About Shakespeare at Emory
Shakespeare at Emory celebrates Emory’s selection as a host site for the exhibit of “First Folio: The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” with plays, readings, exhibits and other activities. Emory’s exhibition will be distinctive with the display of all four folios together.
The exhibition in Atlanta has been made possible through support from the Robert W. Woodruff Library, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, the Michael C. Carlos Museum, and the World Shakespeare Project.
About the First Folio
The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. This year also marks the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.
“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, The Lord Browne of Madingley, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, British Council, Stuart and Mimi Rose, Albert and Shirley Small, and other generous donors.