The First Folio: How We Almost Lost "Macbeth"

February 8, 2016

first folio

The First Folio of Shakespeare is a unique literary treasure.  Collected, edited, and published in 1623 by Shakespeare’s close friends and fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell, the nearly 1,000-page book collects 36 of the Bard’s plays – 18 of which had never before appeared in print.  Without the First Folio, Shakespearean masterpieces such as Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, and Taming of the Shrew would have been lost forever.  On Sunday, February 14th at 3 pm, Helen Page – Professor Emerita of English at Oakton Community College – and Joseph Page – actor with the Muse of Fire Theater Company – will visit EPL to explore this great book’s fascinating history as part of #DiscoverWill: Illinois Libraries Celebrate Shakespeare’s First Folio.  In anticipation of their lecture “The First Folio: How We Almost Lost Macbeth,” we recently spoke with the Pages via email about the technical definition of a “folio,” Shakespeare’s creative process, the literary significance of the 1623 First Folio, and the “Anti-Shakespeare” movement.

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An Interview with Jamil Khoury of Silk Road Rising

February 1, 2016

Jamil Khoury Silk Road Rising is a Chicago theatre company founded in 2002 with the mission of “telling stories through primarily Asian American and Middle Eastern American lenses.”  On Monday, February 8th at 7 pm, they join EPL in sponsoring the lecture “Shakespeare in the Middle East” featuring the former Syrian Minister of Culture and award-winning author Riad Ismat.  One of six February programs planned as part of #DiscoverWill: Illinois Libraries Celebrate Shakespeare’s First Folio, “Shakespeare in the Middle East” will explore the lengthy performance history of the Bard’s work in the region and how it connects today to a broader Middle Eastern audience.  In anticipation of this fascinating program, we recently spoke via email with Silk Road Rising’s Founding Artistic Director Jamil Khoury about the company’s 2007 adaptation of The Merchant of Venice and the challenges of translating Shakespeare for a non-Christian, Arabic-speaking audience.

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Don’t Mess With Shakespeare

October 26, 2011

A new film on Shakespeare which is being released in the U.S. on Friday is already coming under criticism. Anonymous (starring Rhys Ifans and Rafe Spall) maintains that aristocrat Edward de Vere is the true author of Shakespeare’s plays-an assertion that has the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust quite upset. “The trust, a British charity organization that promotes the study and life of Shakespeare, is protesting the release of the film by covering Shakespeare’s name on signs in Warwickshire, the British county that was the playwright’s home.” They have also covered signs on pubs and over the Shakespeare memorial in Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare scholars in America are upset as well. Read the rest of this article in yesterday’s New York Times.

For more on the authorship controversy, check out any of these EPL titles:

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, by James S. Shapiro, 2010

Shakespeare: The World as Stage, by Bill Bryson, 2007

The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question, by Scott McCrea, 2005

“Shakespeare” by Another NameThe Life of Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Man Who Was Shakespeare, by Mark Anderson,  2005

Alias Shakespeare: Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time, by Joseph Sobran, 1997

Shakespeare, in Fact, by Irvin Leigh Matus, 1994


Foresooth! ‘Tis the Bard’s Birthday

April 23, 2011

Hear ye, citizens of the fair land of Illinois! It’s official–today is not only Shakespeare’s birthday, it’s “Speaketh Like Shakespeare Day.” For help in sorting out your thee’s and thou’s, and some tips on rhyming couplets (all the rage back then), this helpful guide will assure you that all’s well that speaks well. 

As to the birthday part of the celebration, well, the date has never been confirmed. Church records show Shakespeare’s baptism dated April 26, 1564, and as this Shakespeare site explains, odds are that the 23rd was the actual birthdate. Coincidentally many scholars accept his date of death as April 23, 1616, a fact  so loaded with irony, fate, astrological forces and a satisfying balance that old Will just might have made use of this device in one of his plays.

So lift a glass in Will’s honor as you ponder the impact of his genius on our lives today.

Barbara L.

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

December 23, 2010

Hail, Santa, King of the Elves! 

Gift wrapped from McSweeney’s comes this clever collection of letters to Santa written by Shakespeare characters including Hamlet, Ophelia, Macbeth, and Falstaff.  Who new Romeo and Juliet were such big Taylor Swift fans?     

A Cult Writer’s Cult Writer

The life and works of reclusive True Grit author Charles Portis are examined in this fascinating NY Times feature.  As the Coen brothers’ readapt his masterpiece for the screen, learn why the western writer might just be the most original talent overlooked by American literary culture. 

Jeeves Was Framed

The origin of the mystery writing cliche “the butler did it” is traced by the Guardian to an obscure 1930’s English novel.  Is it possible that Jeeves and his colleagues aren’t the bloodthirsty maniacs we’ve assumed them to be?      

Christmas in Audio

Audiobook super-narrator Scott Brick tells the touching Christmas tale of how vaudeville comedy, vinyl 78’s, and his great-grandfather Jim inspired his chosen career path.

Talk Like Shakespeare Day

April 19, 2010

Mark thy calendar for Friday, April 23, for it’s Talk Like Shakespeare Day!  Mayor Richard M. Daley didst proclaim that all shouldst honor the birthday of William Shakespeare.  ‘Tis simple to speaketh like the Bard:

  1. Instead of you, say thou or thee(and instead of y’all,
    say ye).
  2. Rhymed couplets are all the rage.
  3. Men are Sirrah, ladies are Mistress, and your friends are all called Cousin.

Visit ye old website for more tips on speaking like Shakespeare.  Even a knave canst do it!

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