Anna Deavere Smith

As the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death is marked this year, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Libraries, along with its partners, the Chazen Museum of Art and the Arts Institute, have spearheaded the Shakespeare in Wisconsin 2016 initiative. The yearlong celebration honoring the influence of the playwright heads into its final act, with UW–Madison serving as the Wisconsin host site for the Folger Shakespeare Library’s national traveling exhibition, First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare in November. Before the First Folio arrives, the partners have organized a prelude of Shakespearian-focused experiences across the state.

Shakespeare in Wisconsin 2016 is more than an exhibition of the First Folio. The UW–Madison partners have looked to the Wisconsin Idea as a framework,” said Susan Barribeau, UW–Madison Librarian and Shakespeare in Wisconsin project manager. “We’ve joined forces with organizations throughout Wisconsin to bring to life a renewed view of Shakespeare through educational experiences, performances, and festivals.”

First Folio, courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.
First Folio, courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

From high schoolers diving into the works of Shakespeare, to inmates describing how he impacted their lives; from the relevance of Shakespeare between the struggling Hutu and Tutsi tribes featured in the documentary “Rwanda & Juliet,” to the ongoing study of the Bard at UW–Madison through “Holding History” events, Shakespeare is alive in Wisconsin.

“As long as people come in with an open mind, you can challenge the world around them,” UW–Madison Assistant Professor of English Joshua Calhoun said. “People may come to us to talk about the First Folio, or just Shakespeare in general, and instead we are able to show just how vibrant and relevant his work is in our lives today.”

Ron Parker, Theatre Director at Appleton North High School who has helped guide the K-12 educational opportunities related to Shakespeare in Wisconsin, noted, “The reason Shakespeare is as relevant now as he was 400 years ago, if not more so than other writers from his own time who have faded into irrelevant obscurity (some more popular during his life than he was), is because Shakespeare focused on what It means to be human.”

Finding new and creative ways to bring Shakespeare to a diverse audience received a boost from the UW–Madison Arts Institute. The infusion of Shakespearian themes into events like the Madison Early Music Festival and Film Fest, in addition to the upcoming feature event, The Pleasure of His Company: Our Love Affair with William Shakespeare and the First Folio,” has helped bolster the yearlong initiative.

“Shakespeare in Wisconsin has offered each of the partners a spectacular opportunity to showcase and explore Shakespeare in unique ways while forging new partnerships,” said Christina Martin-Wright, Associate Director of External Relations for the Arts Institute. “We’re thrilled to contribute to these efforts by producing a lineup of events that will appeal to such a wide audience base. These upcoming events are shining examples of how the arts and humanities are an ideal conduit for the Wisconsin Idea.”

shakespeareOn November 3, The Chazen Museum of Art will host the opening celebration of the exhibition, First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare. A lecture by Joshua Calhoun will be followed by a reception sponsored by Friends of the UW–Madison Libraries.

“We are delighted to be able to provide a personal encounter with an artifact—the First Folio—that has had so much influence on our culture and our lives,” said Russell Panzcenko, director of the Chazen.

Saturday, October 8 – 12:00 p.m.

Rwanda & Juliet

Dartmouth Professor Emeritus Andrew Garrod travels to Rwanda to mount a production of Romeo and Juliet that features members of both the Hutu and Tutsi tribes a mere two decades after the inter-tribal genocide. This layered, nuanced documentary gives us a clear-eyed example of why Shakespeare is as relevant and important today as ever before. Chazen Museum of Art, Co-sponsored by the UW–Madison Arts Institute.

Tuesday, October 18 – 5 p.m.

Holding History

As part of the 2016 Shakespeare in Wisconsin celebration, “Holding History” welcomes you to hold, explore, and even take pictures of rare Shakespeare-related materials from the Special Collections of UWMadison Libraries. Professor Joshua Calhoun presents a short talk that previews the November visit of a First Folio to Madison. Memorial Library, UWMadison.

Tuesday, October 18 – 6 p.m.

Shakespeare Behind Bars

Join the UWSLIS Jail Library Group and Madison Public Library for a screening of this documentary. Shakespeare Behind Bars follows a year in the life of the renowned troupe at Luther Luckett Correctional Facility in Louisville, Kentucky. Madison Public Library, Central Branch.

Friday, October 21 – 7 p.m.

The Pleasure of His Company: Our Love Affair with William Shakespeare and the First Folio

The UW–Madison Arts Institute and the Wisconsin Union Directorate are pleased to present the world premiere of Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso in an evening of personal recollections, dramatic scenes and stories of Shakespeare’s influence on their lives and careers. Shannon Hall, Wisconsin Union Theater.

Thursday, November 3 – 5:30 p.m.

Opening reception for the First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare!

An opening celebration for the exhibition, with a presentation by Assistant Professor Joshua Calhoun. The Folger Shakespeare Library, in association with the Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring a First Folio of Shakespeare in 2016 to all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. Open to the public. Event in the Chazen Museum of Art. The First Folio exhibition will be on display through December 11 at the Chazen.

UW-Shakespeare Legacy Tour (WFAA)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Romeo and Juliet Windmill Tower: Romantic Love as the Idea of Structure in Architectural Form

Tour Taliesin and enjoy a discussion of the Romeo and Juliet windmill and Frank Lloyd Wright x1890’s connections to Shakespeare and to the Wisconsin Idea.

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