Monday, October 10, 2016

An Invitation to Experience William Shakespeare's First Folio, Now On Display In Duluth

"Some are born great; others achieve greatness." ~Twelfth Night

First Folio is in town. Throughout the month of October Duluth is celebrating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's passing with the traveling exhibition titled First Folio, the first published collection of Shakespeare's work.

Here's the announcement I received late last month regarding this event. (I removed a few of the exclamation points to keep it from sounding winded and panting.)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TWEED MUSEUM OF ART OFFERS ENGAGING NEW EXHIBITIONS AND EVENTS THIS FALL

Duluth, MN - Tweed Museum of Art is pleased to announce its Fall 2016 exhibitions and events news.

The big buzz around campus is all about the Shakespeare's First Folio. The Tweed Museum of Art and the University of Minnesota Duluth are proud to host the original First Folio of Shakespeare, during the month of October (4-26), as part of a national touring exhibition celebrating 400 years of the bard. We are the ONLY site in the state of Minnesota to host it. 

Although this is the main attraction, we are also offering a range of must-see exhibitions in the other galleries, some to supplement the Folio exhibition. For instance, the Guthrie Theater from Minneapolis loaned us a selection of Elizabethan period costumes that will beautifully complement the Folio. Then, in November, you will get acquainted with a significant installation curated by Mexican-American artist Maria Cristina Tavera, who took the traditional "casta" and translated it into her own concept of mixed ethno-racial identity. Dr. Jaime Ratliff, art historian in the School of Fine Arts at UMD, co-curated the exhibition and will join us next year to give us her interpretation as an expert scholar. As always, we take great pride in featuring marvelous artworks from the permanent collection, displayed in exhibitions organized thematically. We invite you to visit the Tweed to wander through the galleries to discover and learn. See you at the museum!

If you missed the October 6 opening reception, don't worry. Here's a link to an outline of related events during First Folio's brief stay in Duluth.

That William Shakespeare was one of literary history's bright stars is generally accepted as a given. This passage outlines the magnitude of his brightness.

Shakespeare certainly knew how to combine intellect with entertainment, literariness with popular appeal. He became a star, famous for a tone of voice and dramatic focus that challenged genres, broke moulds, and questioned who had the right to rule. He got under the skin of imagined rulers, as well as real ones. The courts of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I made much of Shakespeare whose companies performed before their monarch 170 times during his lifetime, and continued to do so long after his death for King Charles I, another Shakespeare enthusiast, who had grown up enjoying the plays. Shakespeare inspired his contemporaries who often alluded to his work. His friend and collaborator, John Fletcher, even wrote a sequel to The Taming of the Shrew which he called The Woman’s Prize, or The Tamer Tamed. Shakespeare has continued to be life-giving for successive generations of readers and theatre-goers. Today his popularity and significance are greater than ever.*

Here's more from the same blog:

His work can shock, amuse, move, comfort, inform, entertain, and appall. Shakespeare stares life in the face and shows us what life might be like if we hoped and imagined enough (‘Prove true, imagination, O, prove true’ says Viola in Twelfth Night, or What You Will, 3.4.367). Or, he warns us what might happen if we were to behave cruelly. The whole of King Lear seems like a timeless prophecy about the collapse of civilization. Human beings can all too soon become ‘like monsters of the deep’ and prey upon one another (The History of King Lear, 4.2.49). Shakespeare is open about human desires, whether they are sexual, political, religious, pioneering, ambitious, compassionate, or controlling. He presents emotions that he never felt (the guilt after murdering a monarch, for example), creates space for us to find something of ourselves in them, never preaches and always demands and deserves a complex response.*

Naturally I can't let this passage about Shakespeare go unremarked. He "certainly knew how to combine intellect with entertainment, literariness with popular appeal. He became a star, famous for a tone of voice and dramatic focus that challenged genres, broke moulds, and questioned who had the right to rule. He got under the skin of imagined rulers, as well as real ones." The description fits Bob Dylan like a glove. This passage, too: "His work can shock, amuse, move, comfort, inform, entertain, and appall."

Needless to say, Dylan was born here in Duluth and he was not "born great." He achieved his greatness the hard way. It's nice to see the original bard's handiwork on display here, 400 years after the playwright/poet's passing.

Make an effort to see this First Folio exhibition or attend a few of its events. This is a rare opportunity to gain close proximity to a significant piece of history.

Meantime, life doth go on all around thee. Don't be a maltworm. Embrace it.

* http://bloggingshakespeare.com/why-shakespeare-still-matters

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