Shakespeare First Folio

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Shakespeare’s First Folio Arrives at FIU

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On Feb. 2, the FIU Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum will open its doors to William Shakespeare’s First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit featuring a first edition of Shakespeare’s works. The rare book is considered to be one of the most significant in the English language. Only 750 were printed in 1623 and only 233 are known to remain today. Here are five things you should know about the First Folio before visiting the exhibit.

  1. So what exactly is the First Folio? It is a first edition of Shakespeare’s collected works, featuring 36 plays. The folio was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, by two of his close friends as a way to honor the Bard.
  2. Eighteen of the plays featured in the First Folio had not been published prior to Shakespeare’s death in 1616. It is likely they would have been lost to history if not for the printing of the First Folio. Some of those include Antony and CleopatraAs You Like ItJulius CaesarMacbethThe Tempest, andTwelfth Night.
  3. No two copies of the First Folio are the same. The First Folio was proofread as it was printed, and the presses were routinely stopped to make corrections to the text. More than 600 different typefaces were used. Subsequent owners bound and rebound their copies differently, requiring trimming of the pages, meaning sizes vary. When you add the handwritten notes and drawings imparted on the books by their owners, it’s easy to say every copy is unique.
  4. A rare, mint condition First Folio sold for $5.2 million at a London auction in 2006.
  5. FIU English Professor Andy Strycharski was studying Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. in 2008 when a stolen copy of the First Folio was submitted there for valuation. The stolen book, once owned by John Cosin the Bishop of Durham, was taken from Durham University by Raymond Scott 10 years prior. In 2010, BBC profiled Scott and the affair in Stealing Shakespeare. Scott was eventually acquitted.

FIU is the only site in Florida to host the Folger Shakespeare Library’s national traveling exhibit First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare. Robust programming around the First Folio’s arrival at FIU will take place on campus and throughout South Florida. Early Music at FIU will play an important role in the ancillary events surrounding the exhibit. First Folio at FIU is presented by the College of Arts, Sciences & Education, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum and FIU Libraries. For a complete listing of events, visit folio.fiu.edu.

About the exhibit

Title page of the First Folio. Photo courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

The folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. It was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, by his colleagues hoping to preserve them for future generations. The collection saved 18 plays that had not previously appeared in print, including Antony and CleopatraAs You Like ItJulius CaesarMacbethThe Comedy of ErrorsThe Tempest, and Twelfth Night.

The 500-square-foot traveling exhibit, which includes digital content and interactive activities, tells a two-part story. The first is about the book itself. The second is about Shakespeare’s plays and their significance.  When the first folio arrives in Miami, its pages will be opened to the “to be or not to be” soliloquy from Hamlet — one of the most quoted selection of words ever written.

The Folger Shakespeare Library, in collaboration with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring the First Folio of Shakespeare to all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare has been made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the support of Google.org and Vinton and Sigrid Cerf. Sponsorship opportunities of this major exhibition and the Folger’s other Wonder of Will programs commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death are available; learn more at www.folger.edu. For the latest NPR story about the First Folio’s tour, click here.

For more information about the First Folio at FIU, click here.

Musical Activities

David Dolata discusses music and dance in Shakespeare’s plays:

Tuesday September 26, 2015, 5:30–7:30pm, FIU School of Music Recital Hall, WPAC 150: Male Soprano Rob Crowe in a special guest lecture on English Lute Song in the Seventeenth Century.

Saturday October 10, 2015, 1-2:15pm, MARC, Symposium on the Study and Teaching of Shakespeare for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools: Dr. Dolata and the FIU Collegium Musicum in “The Music of Shakespeare’s Period.”

Saturday February 6, 2016: FIU Collegium Musicum at the Opening Reception. For photos of the performance, click here. You’ll need to enter your email, probably your FIU e-mail address, and the password: FIU2016.

Friday February 19, 2016: John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, a collaborative opera-theatre production between the FIU School of Music and the Department of Theatre featuring the Collegium Musicum with a special guest appearance by members of the Conchita Espinosa Academy Children’s Chorus at the Southern Chapter Meeting of the American Musicological Society at Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Helen K. Persson Recital Hall at the Vera Lea Rinker Hall, in West Palm Beach.

Sunday February 21, 2016 at 3 pm and Monday February 22, 2016 at 7:30 pm: John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, a collaborative opera-theatre production between the FIU School of Music and the Department of Theatre featuring the Collegium Musicum with a special guest appearance by members of the Conchita Espinosa Academy Children’s Chorus at FIU’s Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Concert Hall.

 

Saturday February 27, 2016: FIU Collegium Musicum at Closing Reception.

Academic Support

In support of the First Folio exhibition, this fall the topic for MUH 6937/4680 Special Topics in Music History/Music History Seminar will be Music in Shakespeare & Shakespeare in Music. For more information, click here.