Shakespeare celebration coming to K-State in February

K-State Alumni Communications and K-State Communications and Marketing

Shakespeare's First Folio is coming to Kansas State University in February. (Photo: K-State Communications and Marketing)

Perhaps no other figure in literary history has had a greater impact on the English language than playwright and poet William Shakespeare, whose writings continue to influence and inspire readers 400 years later. 

From Feb. 1-28, Kansas State University will celebrate the legacy of Shakespeare as the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art hosts 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. 

Many events have been planned in conjunction with the exhibit that alumni and friends will enjoy, providing a good reason to come back and visit the campus and Manhattan. Events during the month-long celebration include:
  • First Folio Opening Reception, 5:30-7 p.m. Feb. 4, Beach Museum of Art. Program includes gallery tour of the folio, five-minute speed scholar presentations and a performance by K-State’s Collegium Musicum.
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream — Actors from the London Stage, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5, McCain Auditorium. Visit the event website for ticket information.
  • Guest Lecture: Ross Duffin — Shakespeare’s Songbook, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17, Kirmser Hall, McCain Auditorium. Renowned musicologist Ross Duffin presents a lively public lecture on his award-winning text, Shakespeare’s Songbook. The Songbook is a meticulously researched collection of 155 songs that appear in, are quoted in, or alluded to in Shakespeare's plays.  
  • Shakespeare Faire: Shakespeare for All Ages, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 20, Manhattan Public Library. Program includes English Scholar Speed Talks; public reading of sonnets; scene presentations by K-State Theatre; music performances and "instrument petting zoo" by Musicum Collegium; storytelling and puppets; afternoon film showing of a Shakespeare adaptation; and presentation of gift facsimile folio to library. 
Many of Shakespeare's plays, which were written to be performed, were not published during his lifetime. The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays and was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death. Two of Shakespeare's fellow actors compiled 36 of his plays, hoping to preserve them for future generations. Without it, the world would not have 18 of the playwright's works, including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra and As You Like It. All 18 appear for the first time in print in the First Folio, and would otherwise have been lost.

The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with the 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 thrilled that K-State has been selected as the one site in Kansas to host the traveling exhibition," said Karin Westman, department head of English. "We're grateful to our campus and community partners, especially K-State Libraries and the Beach Museum of Art, for their support of the project, so we could meet the Folger Library's strict guidelines for care of the folio during its time on campus."

Don Hedrick, professor of English and expert in Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, initiated the collaboration necessary for the successful application, which included proposed events and programs in conjunction with the exhibition.

"Having been selected as the Kansas site for the exhibit, K-State will sponsor a wide range of outreach events for the campus and local community," Hedrick said. "In addition to volunteer activities by community organizations and schools, faculty from the English department and School of Music, Theatre, and Dance will offer lectures, performances and demonstrations to enhance public understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare's work."
For more Shakespeare-related events, visit the Shakespeare in the Little Apple

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