First Folio: The Book that Gave us Shakespeare

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Shakespeare's First Folios. Courtesy of Folger Shakespeare Library.

Texas A&M University will host William Shakespeare’s First Folio from March 8 through April 3. The folio will be on display in the J. Wayne Stark Galleries in the Memorial Student Center.

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare is a national traveling exhibition of the Shakespeare First Folio, one of the world’s most treasured books. The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring a First Folio of Shakespeare in 2016 to all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

To commemorate the First Folio exhibit, Texas A&M will be hosting a series of events centered on the rich history of the folio and the man behind it. Laura Estill of Texas A&M will be giving the opening lecture. Visiting experts Douglass S. Bruster from The University of Texas at Austin and James S. Shapiro from Columbia University will also be lecturing on the history of Shakespeare and the First Folio.

Aimed toward teachers and students across the state, Texas A&M will also be hosting several workshops to engage more students in learning about the folio and Shakespeare’s works. Teachers will be able to register for events in which they will learn hands-on techniques to engage their students in the rich text of Shakespeare’s plays. There will also be an opportunity for teachers to bring their classes to participate in The EmilyAnn Theatre’s “Shakesperience” program aimed at immersing the students in Shakespeare’s work.

Celebrating the history of the First Folio further, the Within the Book and Volume: Early Modern English Literature at Texas A&M exhibit will start at Cushing Memorial Library & Archives in February. The exhibit will showcase materials from the same time period as the First Folio and focus on the intellectual developments and the physical process behind bookmaking in the 16th and 17th centuries. A Book History Workshop will be offered by Cushing to give the public a hands-on experience of printing Shakespeare on March 15.

Live performances have also been planned, which include adaptations of “Hamlet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed by several different troupes visiting from Austin and Texas A&M Department of Performance Studies.

“Shakespeare tells the human story like no one else,” says Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. “He connects us to each other, to our history, and to themes and ideas that touch us every day. We are delighted that we can share this precious resource with people everywhere.”

In the exhibit, the First Folio will be opened to the most quoted line from Shakespeare and one of his most memorable, “to be or not to be” from Hamlet. Accompanying the rare book will be a multi-panel exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional digital content and interactive activities.

For more information and a list of events, visit lonestarfolio.tamu.edu.

Photo courtesy of Folger Shakespeare Library.