Welcome to The Shakespear Guild
On June 12 we completed our 2016-17 season in Manhattan with an informative conversation that put the spotlight on arts executive Julian Bird. Mr. Bird oversees both the Society of London Theatre, the producers' organization that presents the West End's Olivier Awards each spring, and UK Theatre, a consortium, formerly known as the Theatrical Management Association (TMA), that represents performing-arts institutions throughout the United Kingdom. UK Theatre now hosts the GUILD's annual GIELGUD AWARD festivities, and among the many topics that Mr. Bird and GUILD president John Andrews touched on was speculation that Kevin Kline, an Oscar laureate who had just won his third Tony Award and was the first American to receive a GIELGUD, may soon be starring in a London production of the current Broadway revival of Noel Coward's "Present Laughter."

The GUILD is now focused on a festive revival of The Tempest that will take place at the SANTA FE BOTANICAL GARDEN in late August. This presentation will be directed by Nagle Jackson, who helped preside over several seasons of SHAKESPEARE IN SANTA FE between 1997 and 2002 and who returned to La Tierra Encantada in 2013 for a sprightly St. John's College medley that proved to be a complete Delight. Mr. Jackson's forthcoming production will take place in a circular setting that will evoke such august predecessors as London's "Wooden O" and the Zia Sun Symbol that adorns the New Mexico flag. Pulsating with reminders that Shakespeare's valedictory drama was being composed in England at the same time that European settlers were seeking to establish a "brave new world" in a terrain that had long been occupied by descendants of sdventurers who'd arrived centuries earlier, this presentation will be particularly engaging for long-time residents of the area. As they observe Caliban's attempt to overthrow Prospero and regain an "island" over which he himself once held sway, they'll be reminded that in 1680, seven decades after the founding of what was destined to become America's oldest capital city, Pueblo tribes revolted against their Hispanic conquerors, retaining control of the region for a dozen years before they were forced to yield it back in 1692. To reserve tickets for SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN, click here. And for additional background about The Tempest, see the foreword that Sir John Gielgud generously contributed to Mr. Andrews' 1994 Everyman Shakespeare edition of the play.

And speaking of Sir John, we're pleased to note that on April 27 two GIELGUD awardees (Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen) took part in a ceremony at which an English Heritage plaque was placed on the Cowley Street residence that had been Sir John's home from 1945 to 1976. The man behind this memorial to Sir John's legacy was John Miller, a distinguished biographer and arts presenter who serves on the Guild's Advisory Council, and he presided over a festive gathering that included eloquent remarks not only by Dame Judi but by playwright Sir David Hare and actor Michael Pennington. Click here to watch the unveiling ceremony in a Facebook video that has been kindly made available to the Guild by Christian Bace of English Heritage.

We opened the second half of our 2016-17 SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE series at the National Arts Club on January 18 and February 22 with Jean E. Howard of Columbia University and Shane Ann Younts of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. A few weeks later, on March 22, we chatted with Sarah Enloe of the American Shakespeare Center. In the weeks that followed, on April 26 and 27 and on May 26, we enjoyed richly informative engagements with film historian Samuel Crowl, director Karin Coonrod, and arts patron Nancy Zeckendorf.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, March 25, we took part in a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral for renowned author E. R. Braithwaite, best known for To Sir, With Love, a 1959 best-seller that became a celebrated 1967 film with Sidney Poitier in the role that Mr. Braithwaite's eloquent memoir had made famous. Mr. Braithwaite died at the age of 104 on December 12, 2016, and Guild president John Andrews was one of the three speakers who eulogized him in the Cathedral's intimate Bethlehem Chapel. The service concluded with an organ rendering of Lulu's musical tribute to "Sir," a single that had been popular music's number-one recording a half-century earlier. Click here to watch a February 2007 conversation between Mr. Andrews and Mr. Braithwaite that was telecast several times on C-SPAN's weekend Book TV service.

As the GUILD prepares for an August 23-31 production of "The Tempest" at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, about which more detail will be forthcoming soon, we're savoring a resonant February evening in America's oldest capital city. On that occasion we co-hosted Shakespeare at San Miguel. A co-production with Severall Friends, an early-music ensemble that draws its name from Elizabethan composer Matthew Locke, this concert took place on Friday, February 24, in a chapel that dates from the playwright's lifetime. Highlighted by three internationally-acclaimed instrumentalists and singers, the program featured eleven of Shakespeare's most evocative sonnets, which were artfully interspersed with thematically-related lyrics by Thomas Campion, William Dowland, and other composers. Click here for musicologist James M. Keller's detailed preview in Pasatiempo, a cultural supplement that is one of most impressive offerings of the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Looking back on an eventful 2016, we're gratified to recall the GUILD's special role in the global commemoration of a poet whose influence remains undiminished four centuries after his death and burial. One of the highlights of an extraordinary "Shakespeare 400" calendar occurred Sunday, October 9, when the GUILD saluted a legendary actress with its prestigious GIELGUD AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE DRAMATIC ARTS. During a festive luncheon at London's historic Guildhall, acclaimed Almeida Theatre director Rupert Goold presented our framed Clive Francis award trophy to Vanessa Redgrave at the climax of a UK Theatre Awards ceremony that also included two previous GIELGUD recipients, Dame Eileen Atkins and Sir Ian McKellen.

During 2016 our signature SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE series at Manhattan's National Arts Club featured scintillating conversations with producer Ralph Alan Cohen, who introduced NAC constituents to the American Shakespeare Center in Virginia; director Karin Coonrod, who previewed a high-profile Merchant in Venice that marked the 500th anniversary of the original Ghetto; writers Alison Gopnik of the University of California at Berkeley and her brother Adam Gopnik of the New Yorker, who talked about the importance of play in early childhood development; Shakespeare Survey editor Peter Holland of the University of Notre Dame, who shared trenchant observations about a number of recent developments; educator Peggy O'Brien of the Folger Shakespeare Library, who talked about the support she and her colleagues provide for teachers and students around the nation; University of London professor Kiernan Ryan, who offered a new way of thinking about Shakespeare's "universality"; and director Louis Scheeder of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, who described the kinds of preparation that are essential for aspiring drama professionals.

Along the way the GUILD arranged an informative DC luncheon at the Woman's National Democratic Club with executive director Diana Owen of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon. And we helped bring several events to Anerica's oldest capital city, a setting that dates back to the months in 1610 when a visionary playwright was contemplating a shipwreck that had occurred in our "brave new world" and composing The Tempest. In January we took part in a Lensic Performing Arts Center benefit that featured EVER THE TWAIN: William Shakespeare in Mark Twain's America. In February we hosted a dialogue at the New Mexico Museum of Art with biographer Stephen H. Grant about Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger. And finally, during an October presentation that served as prelude for a show to be mounted in August of 2017, we co-sponsored The Poet's Eye, a medley of Bardic music and verse that helped dedicate a new feature at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden: a magic circle that evokes such predecessors as a classical Greek amphitheater, a "Wooden O" like the Bankside Globe, and the Zia sun symbol that adorns New Mexico's state flag. A few months hence we'll return to that venue for a production that concludes with Prospero's eloquent farewell to his own "bare island."

For detail on these and other activities, we invite you to browse this site, clicking on the blue links that serve as navigation devices. We'll be especially grateful if you feel inclined to support the GUILD's endeavors, by registering for events, by enrolling as a member, or by providing a tax-exempt donation.