Only 233 copies of the 1623 book are known to exist. Photo: Folger Shakespeare Library
Only 233 copies of the 1623 book are known to exist.
Photo: Folger Shakespeare Library

National tour stops on campus with some 20 events planned.

September 2016 – Drew University and The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey are celebrating the October arrival of Shakespeare’s First Folio at Drew with a mixture of plays, music, talks, workshops and exhibits.

The main attraction is the book itself—a 1623 collection of Shakespeare’s seminal plays that will be displayed in Mead Hall. The rare book, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library, features 36 plays, including 18 that previously hadn’t been published. The tour is national and Drew is the sole exhibitor in New Jersey.

Folger selected Drew as a host based on its nexus with The Shakespeare Theatre—whose playhouse is on campus—its wealth of courses about Shakespeare and the quality of its theatre program, which Princeton Review ranks as seventh best in the United States.

Public viewing of the book begins Oct. 6 and ends Oct. 30, with weekday hours (Tuesday to Friday) of 4-8 p.m. and weekend hours of noon to 8 p .m. In between, Drew and the Theatre will put on nearly 20 related events, the details of which can be found here. Here are some highlights:

The tour honors the Bard during the 400th anniversary of his death.Photo: Folger Shakespeare Library
The tour honors the Bard during the 400th anniversary of his death.
Photo: Folger Shakespeare Library

Plays

The Shakespeare Theatre is performing Richard III, while Drew students are tackling Hamlet—with performances of each for school groups during the day. Richard III runs from Oct. 5 to Nov. 6, and Hamlet, from Oct. 19 to Oct. 29.

Talks

Shakespeare scholars are speaking about the Bard and the history of First Folio, including Yale University’s David Scott Kastan and three professors from Drew: Frank Occhiogrosso, Jonathan Rose and Kimberly Rhodes. The lectures begin Oct. 5 and end Oct. 29.

Music and Dance

Ensemble Chaconne of Boston will perform music from Shakespeare’s plays on Oct. 5 and Drew students will perform dances inspired by Shakespeare on Oct. 22. In addition, students and professors will deliver Shakespearian sonnets in song, dance and spoken verse at Short Stories in Madison on Oct. 15.

Exhibits

Drew created three exhibits that will be displayed throughout the month at the Drew Library, the school’s United Methodist Archives and History Center and the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre.

Workshops

The Shakespeare Theatre is offering four different workshops—for actors, teachers, families and young children—between Oct. 7 and Oct. 22.

In addition, Drew is offering tours for larger groups, such as students from schools. Tour information is available via hryan@drew.edu. So, October will indeed be all things Shakespeare on campus, which is why the Borough of Madison, under Mayor Robert Conley, proclaimed that October is the Month of Shakespeare at Drew University.

The First Folio exhibition was produced in association with the American Library Association and Cincinnati Museum Center and is funded by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor and the support of Google.org, Lord Browne of Madingley, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, the British Council, Stuart and Mimi Rose, Albert and Shirley Small and other donors.