Sunday, October 16, 2016

First Folio Is More Than Just A Book. Shakespeare Exhibit at the Tweed Stirs Generations.

During the month of May the Tweed Museum of Art has played host to a traveling exhibit from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. called First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare. Numerous activities have been organized around this touring exhibit, including projects for youth, special speakers and more.

Yesterday afternoon the art gallery was abuzz with art projects related to Shakespeare. Alison Aune and crew had set up stations where kids could work on themed projects. One room featured materials for assembling miniature books. Another room featured materials for making theater masks. In a third area I saw young people making crowns All of it was designed to inspire to renewed interest in the life and work of William Shakespeare on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of his death.

The centerpiece of the traveling exhibit is a book, one of an estimated 750 copies of the first published collection of the works of William Shakespeare. There are an estimated 233 remain in existence, and though rare I am guessing that if this were the only one it would not be on the road as it has been. In point of fact the Folger Shakespeare Library owns 82 of these 233 copies of the folio, and what makes this book exciting to people is that many of Shakespeare's plays would have been lost in the abyss of history had this book not been published.

In addition to this First Folio exhibit you will discover a Costumes & Stagecraft For Shakespeare display in several halls of the gallery, on loan from the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis displaying elements that reveal the world of theater that Shakespeare's plays fostered. You'll enjoy the elaborate costumes and miniature sets that were invented and constructed to help directors and characters envision the stories they would tell on the stage.

"All the world's a stage..."

Years ago I heard a five minute radio clip by Dan Rather of CBS in which he recited sayings and phrases that have become permanently embedded in our language today that originated with Mr. Shakespeare. "All's Well That Ends Well" is the title of a play. When we talk about a comedy of errors, this too was taken from the title of another play, "Comedy of Errors." There's something in the wind, we often say. The notion of killing with kindness can be found in another play of his. And the phrase "star-crossed lovers" was popularized in Romeo and Juliet. I'm just whetting your appetite here.

Elaborate costume from Midsummer Night's Dream.
His themes were the themes of life: love, longing, fear and death, expectation, greed, villainy and mercy. Just as Dylan mined the American folk and blues traditions, Shakespeare summoned inspiration from all the previous ages of literature while incorporating the latest discoveries of the emerging modern world.

This traveling exhibition will be folding up its curtains on October 26, so you have ten days to get up to the campus to take it in.

There are several other noteworthy exhibitions on display right now, as well. The balcony annex has a challenging showcase of the thought-provoking works of Juan Logan titled Whose Song Shall I Sing? It's relevance is inescapable in our current climate of racial discord and stereotyping.

A whimsical photo exhibition titled Head in the Clouds is also enjoyable and effective.

If you've not been to the Tweed before, you really must make the effort. This is a first class art museum, a real treasure for the community. You'll find it on the UMD campus.

"All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts." ~As You Like It

And if you can't remember your lines, well... just do the best you can. You only live once.

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