31 May UCA selected as site for Shakespeare’s First Folio
The University of Central Arkansas and Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre have been selected as hosts for Arkansas for “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare,” a national traveling exhibition of the Shakespeare First Folio, one of the world’s most treasured books.
The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring a First Folio of Shakespeare in 2016 to all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
"We are honored to have been selected as one of the institutions to help share this extraordinary part of the world’s cultural heritage from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s collection,” said Mary Ruth Marotte, executive director of Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre. “For most people, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come within inches of one of the most influential books in history.”
Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre will celebrate its 10th anniversary season in conjunction with the First Folio Exhibition, which will run June 7 through Tuesday, July 12, in the Baum Gallery on the UCA campus.
Many of Shakespeare’s plays, which he wrote to be performed, were not published during his lifetime. The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. It was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. Two of his fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays, hoping to preserve them for future generations. Without it, the world would not have 18 of Shakespeare’s plays, including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It. All 18 appeared for the first time in print in the First Folio and would otherwise have been lost.
“The First Folio is the book that gave us Shakespeare,” said Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. “Between its covers, we discover his most famous characters — Hamlet, Desdemona, Cordelia, Macbeth, Romeo, Juliet and hundreds of others — speaking words that continue to move and inspire us. Shakespeare tells the human story like no one else. He connects us to each other, to our history and to themes and ideas that touch us every day. We are delighted that we can share this precious resource with people everywhere, from San Diego, Calif., to Gurabo, Puerto Rico, from Eugene, Ore., to Duluth, Minn.”
The Folger Shakespeare Library holds 82 copies of the First Folio, by far the largest collection in the world and more than a third of the 233 known copies in the world today. It is believed that 750 copies were originally printed.
The Shakespeare First Folio is one of the most valuable printed books in the world; a First Folio sold for $6.2 million in 2001 at Christie’s and another for $5.2 million in 2006 in London. It originally sold for one British pound (20 shillings) — about $200 today.
When the First Folio arrives in Conway, its pages will be opened to the most quoted line from Shakespeare and one of the most quoted lines in the world, “to be or not to be” from Hamlet.
Accompanying the rare book will be a multi-panel exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional digital content and interactive activities. UCA is planning numerous programs for the public around the First Folio exhibition.
“First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the generous support of Google.org and Vinton and Sigrid Cerf.