SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE ANNOUNCES COLLABORATION TO CELEBRATE 400TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ‘FIRST FOLIO’
To celebrate the upcoming 400th anniversary of the First Folio, Shakespeare’s Globe has teamed up with the German Literature Archive Marbach (DLA). The two organisations will present an exhibition and conference, dubbed ‘Will’s Book’, taking place in Marbach, Germany from 12 to 14 October.
In 1622, a catalogue of the Frankfurt Book Fair (Catalogus vniuersalis) announced the first printed edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays, and subsequently appeared in 1623 under the title Mr William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. Only individual Shakespeare plays had been published by 1623 – without the publication of this ‘First Folio’, we would have lost half of his dramatic works.
Shakespeare’s Globe and Germany
This collaboration is not the Globe’s first connection to Shakespeare in Germany. A strong love of Shakespeare in Germany has existed in scholars, actors, and audiences since the late 18th century – where Shakespeare remains the most played author on the German stage. The first performance at Shakespeare’s Globe was The Merry Wives of Windsor, performed by Bremer Shakespeare Company in German in 1993, whilst the Globe was still being built.
In 2010, the Globe’s Education Department produced the ‘Shakespeare is German’ season celebrating Germany’s special affinity with Shakespeare, hosting readings and presentations with actor Sebastian Koch and leading German Shakespeare scholars. On 31 May and 1 June 2012, the Bremer Shakespeare Company returned to Shakespeare’s Globe with a production of Timon of Athens for a ‘Globe to Globe’ Festival.
Shakespeare’s Globe celebrates the 400th anniversary of the First Folio
The beautiful Munro First Folio is on long-term display at Shakespeare’s Globe and, will be throughout the duration of 2023. The display of the Munro First Folio will form part of the Folio 400 celebrations with further announcements of events and activities due out soon.
In 2008, an American collector bequeathed his Rare Book Collection of Shakespeare Folios to Shakespeare’s Globe. The collection includes all four Shakespeare folios, play quartos and sources of Shakespeare’s plays in their original languages. It is the Globe’s long-term ambition to permanently house a First Folio on its site.
The Globe’s Founder, Sam Wanamaker, dedicated the last 23 years of his life to raising awareness and funds to rebuild the first Globe at the heart of a centre dedicated to education and performance, which included a performance archive and library. We remain dedicated to achieving this vision as part of our revised Capital works between 2023-25.
This collaboration between the DLA and the Globe is generously supported by Marcus Coles (London) and Reinhard Gorenflos (Munich). The Folio 400 project celebrates Shakespeare’s First Folio in a unique and exciting collaboration that commemorates 400 years of the world’s greatest playwright.
‘Will’s Book’ will include guest speakers, a two-day conference from 13 October, and special events. This international exhibition will examine the reception of Shakespeare’s plays beyond England’s borders and the impact of Elizabethan theatre. How has the significance of the First Folio and the corpus of plays it contains changed over the centuries? What influence have translations of Shakespeare’s dramatic works had on different national literatures? How have writers been inspired by Shakespeare and his stage culture? The conference will be opened by Sandra Richter (DLA), Matthias Bauer, and Angelika Zirker (Tübingen). Speakers include Ivan Lupić (Rijeka), Greg Prickman (Folger Library), Jennifer Ruiz-Morgan (Extremadura), Emma Smith (Oxford), and Tiffany Stern (Birmingham). The keynote lecture will be given by David Kastan, George M. Bodman Professor of English (Yale University) at 6pm on 13 October.
Accompanying the conference will be an exhibition opening, ‘Will’s Book – 400 Years of Shakespeare’s First Folio’ on 12 October in Marbach, Germany. The exhibition will be opened on 12 October by Neil Constable, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s Globe, and Sandra Richter, Director of the DLA. Jens Harzer and regular Globe actor Janie Dee will read vignettes from Shakespeare’s plays.
The focal point of the exhibition is an edition of the First Folio (1623), of which up to 235 of the original 750 printed editions are extant – and only around 40 of these are complete and in good condition. The display of the First Folio is complemented with editions of the Second, Third, and Fourth Folio (1632, 1664, 1683). The central display – modelled on the form of the Globe Theatre – is surrounded by manuscripts, books, images, and objects from the Globe Theatre London and the German Literature Archive Marbach. Forty exhibits explore Shakespeare and the impact of his works in the German-speaking world.
Neil Constable, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s Globe, said:“All of us here at Shakespeare’s Globe are delighted to be teaming up with the German Literature Archive Marbach (DLA) to celebrate the creation and printing of the remarkable 400th anniversary of the First Folio. It is unimaginable to us today to think of having fewer of Shakespeare’s plays than the 37 famous works we produce year after year at the Globe. Having been announced first in Germany at the 1622 Frankfurt Fair catalogue, it is a great opportunity to join with the DLA to ensure this great wonder of the literary world is celebrated internationally.”
Prof. Dr. Sandra Richter, Director of the DLA, said: “The edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays, which was highly unusual for its time, created the image of a world-class poet at an early stage. On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of this publishing event, it is a special pleasure to do tribute to the First Folio with a look at the reception history of Shakespeare’s dramatic works as documented in Marbach’s archival holdings. I am indebted to Reinhard Gorenflos and Marcus Coles, who have made possible a unique cooperation with Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre London.”
Dr. Will Tosh, Head of Research at Shakespeare’s Globe, said:“English players toured to German lands in Shakespeare’s lifetime, and versions of his plays took on fresh life in a new language. Shakespeare’s poetry acted like a drug on Romantics like Goethe, and his plays have been treasured and studied Germany for centuries. So, it seems only fitting that we’re opening our year of celebrations to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the printing of the first folio in Germany, where news of the iconic book was brought to the world at the 1622 Frankfurt book fair.”
The collaboration between the DLA and the Globe is generously supported by Marcus Coles (London) and Reinhard Gorenflos (Munich).
About the DLA
The German Literature Archive (Deutsches Literaturarchiv – DLA) is one of the most significant literary institutions in the world. Its collections bring together and preserve an abundance of valuable sources of literary and intellectual history from 1750 to the present day. Since its establishment in 1955, it has served literature, education, and research. The collections are open to everyone who is conducting source criticism.
With around 1,600 papers and collections of authors and scholars, archives of literary publishers and over 450,000 images and objects, the archive is one of the leading institutions of its kind. The library is the largest special collection of modern German literature and includes more than 1.5 million items (books, periodicals as well as analog and digital text, sound, and visual media), alongside the collected libraries of more than 160 authors and collectors.
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