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On Sunday, October 15, the GUILD presented its 2017 GIELGUD AWARD to playwright David Hare. Sir David is the first dramatist to receive a GIELGUD, and attendees were deeply moved by the eloquent remarks he delivered as he accepted this year's elegant Clive Francis trophy. Once again the ceremony took place as part of a UK THEATRE AWARDS luncheon in London's venerable Guildhall, and as usual it received extensive media attention, with coverage in such news sources as Broadway World, What's On Stage, The Stage, and Theatre News.

One of the things that made this year's presentation special was that it reinforced an event that Sir David had graced with his presence on April 27, when he joined a previous GIELGUD recipient. Dame Judi Dench, in a gathering 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; he presided over a festive occasion that included eloquent remarks not only by Sir David and Dame Judi, but by actor Michael Pennington. Click here to watch the unveiling in a Facebook video that has been kindly made available to the GUILD by Christian Bace of English Heritage.

The GUILD's next engagement will be a SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE program at 8 p.m. on Monday, January 29, in Manhattan's National Arts Club (15 Gramercy Park South). This conversation will focus on the efforts of Stephen Burdman, founder and artistic director of the New York Classical Theatre. Three days later, as part of a February 1 luncheon gathering at the Woman's National Democratic Club in Washington, we'll talk with actor and director Keith Baxter, who'll be playing the Gravedigger in a production of "Hamlet" that Michael Kahn will be directing as part of his concluding season at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. More SOS dates, special guests, and enticing topics will be announced shortly.

We opened our 2017-18 SOS season on Friday, October 6, with educator Joanna Read, who heads the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). A few days later, on Wednesday, October 18, we enjoyed a delightful evening with Washington Post theater critic Peter Marks. Then on Monday, November 6, we chatted with WNET executive Stephen Segaller, who offered a sneak preview of this spring's attractions in a series called "Shakespeare Uncovered," a three-year, 18-episode co-production with the BBC that provides scintillating introductions to some of the most popular plays in the dramatic repertory.

As we look forward to the GUILD's upcoming engagements we're savoring a presentation of The Tempest that took place August 23-31 at the SANTA FE BOTANICAL GARDEN. More than 1500 enthusiastic attendees applauded a production that featured superb acting, entrancing music and special effects, and an extraordinary stage and set by architect Jay Bush. To learn more about SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN, read the informative background article by Jennifer Levin and the judicious review by James M. Keller in Pasatiempo, an impressive cultural supplement of the Santa Fe New Mexican.

This production was brilliantly directed by Nagle Jackson, who helped artistic director Rachel Kelly preside over several seasons of SHAKESPEARE IN SANTA FE between 1997 and 2002. Mr. Jackson returned to La Tierra Encantada in 2013 for a sprightly St. John's College medley that proved to be a complete Delight, indeed one that Mr. Keller described in Pasatiempo as that summer's "most endearing revival." Mr. Jackson's 2017 Tempest took place in a magic circle that evoked such august predecessors as the Greek amphitheaters of classical antiquity, the "Wooden O" that Shakespeare depicts in his prologue to Henry V, and the Zia Sun Symbol that adorns New Mexico's beautiful state flag. Pulsating with reminders that an aging playwright was scripting his valedictory drama in London at the same time that Spanish conquistadors were seeking to establish a "brave new world" in a terrain that had long been occupied by earlier settlers, this rendering of a classic score proved especially engaging for residents of the American Southwest.

For background about The Tempest, see the foreword that Sir John Gielgud generously contributed to Mr. Andrews' 1994 Everyman Shakespeare edition of the play, as well as the Editor's Introduction that followed it. You might also enjoy listening to Ellen Berkovitch's KSFR radio feature about SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN, as well as conversations with KVSF host Richard Eads and KBAC host Honey Harris. And finally, you might be interested in letters that appreciative attendees published in the New Nexican, as well as in some "Reflections on The Tempest" that Mr. Andrews presented in late September at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

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. On June 12 we completed our 2016-17 SOS series with 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.

On Friday, February 24, As a prelude for its August 2017 "Tempest," the GUILD co-sponsored a resonant February entertainment in what may well be America's oldest church. On this 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 in a chapel whose foundations date 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 few weeks later, on Saturday, March 25, GUILD President John Andrews participated 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 has been telecast several times on C-SPAN's weekend Book TV service.

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 most venerable 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 2016 presentation that served as prelude for the "Tempest" we co-presented 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.

For detail on these and other 2016-17 highlights, as well as for background on earlier GUILD initiatives, 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.