Welcome to The Shakespear Guild
We extend warm greetings to those who are new to the Guild, and gratitude to those who've contributed to the success of our many programs. As you browse these pages, clicking on the blue links that serve as navigating devices, you'll see that we're now using online formats for most of our offerings. All but a handful have been produced in collaboration with the National Arts Club in Manhattan, and our conversations with DAME JUDI DENCH and SIR IAN MCKELLEN, which drew more than 2,000 viewers apiece from around the globe, attracted the NAC's largest audiences of 2021 and were featured in the Club's year-end highlights.


We're now focused on a celebration that's scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 23, in Westminster Abbey. One of the globe's most iconic settings, this historic institution is renowned, among other things, for Poets' Corner, where authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare are honored along with other legendary artists, among them Henry Irving, the first actor to be knighted, and Laurence Olivier, a performer in whose name each season's award-worthy achievements are now recognized by the Society of London Theatre.

It's a pleasure to announce that a new memorial, a floor plaque designed by eminent carver Wayne Hart to commemorate the life and legacy of SIR JOHN GIELGUD, will be dedicated as the highlight of a festive commemoration of two significant birthdays, Shakespeare's 458th and Gielgud's 118th.

In addition to his remarkable career as an actor, director, and producer, Sir John was also a renowned memoirist and theatre historian whose many contributions included an eloquent article about "Tradition, Style, and the Shakespearean Actor Today" that appeared in the third volume of William Shakespeare: His World, His Work, His Influence, a 3-volume Scribners reference set that was published in 1985. He also contributed illuminating forewords to Everyman Shakespeare editions of Julius Caesar and The Tempest that were completed in 1989 and 1991, a few years before the Guild established the Gielgud Award for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts in 1994.

Details about our April festivities in London will be provided shortly. Meanwhile we hope you'll join us for two online conversations that will prepare the way for them. At 3 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, February 16, we'll chat with executive director BEN HARTLEY of the National Arts Club. Since his arrival at the NAC in 2018, Mr. Hartley has introduced a variety of new initiatives, among them the virtual programs that have brought an impressive roster of celebrities into the homes of viewers not only in New York but around the world.

And at 1 p.m. ET on Friday, March 18, we'll talk with CLIVE FRANCIS, an actor who has played leading roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company and who has appeared in such feature films and BBC television series as A Clockwork Orange, The Crown, Sense and Sensibility, and Yes, Prime Minister. A gifted illustrator, Mr. Francis has also produced delightful images of dozens of leading performers, among them framed caricatures of Sir John Gielgud and other celebrities that are elegantly displayed in the corridors of the West End theatres such as the one that now bears Gielgud's name. In 1994 Mr. Francis published Sir John: The Many Faces of Gielgud, a 90th-birthday collection that featured anecdotes from many of the actor's most distinguished colleagues. And since 2005 a commemorative portrait of Sir John (copies of which Gielgud inscribed in 1996 with his distinctive signature) have been presented to recipients of the Gielgud Award.


We opened our 2021 SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE series on Wednesday, February 24, with a conversation that focused on JUDI DENCH. The Guild had honored Dame Judi with its 1999 Gielgud trophy at Broadway’s Barrymore Theatre during a gala that featured such luminaries as Keith Baxter, Zoe Caldwell, Rebecca Eaton, David Hare, Hal Holbrook, Robert MacNeil, Ronald Pickup, Toby Stephens, and Christopher Plummer. To enjoy this charming visit to Dame Judi's home a few miles south of London, click here. And to enjoy recent profile of Dame Judi in AARP: The Magazine, click here.

A week later, on Wednesday, March 3, we enjoyed a wide-ranging NAC@Home dialogue with IAN MCKELLEN that focused primarily on his dozens of Shakespearean roles. In 1996 Sir Ian had received the Guild's inaugural Gielgud Award for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts during a historically resonant ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, and at several points he recalled that illustrious occasion. To revisit that conversation click here.

On Tuesday, April 20, we focused on playwright DAVID HARE. Having taken part in our 1999 Gielgud Award presentation to Dame Judi Dench at the Barrymore Theatre in New York, Sir David himself received our 2017 Gielgud trophy at London's venerable Guildhall. To watch a memorable conversation with an extraordinary dramatist, screenwriter, director, and performer, click here.

A few days later, on Saturday, April 24, Guild President John Andrews and cabaret artist SHANA FARR of The Players co-hosted a 2021 Shakespeare's Birthday gathering with Oscar laureate F. MURRAY ABRAHAM, an exchange that celebrated what has long been revered as Edwin Booth's club, a historic institution that was founded by the actor in 1888. To watch it, click here.

Another of 2021's highlights occurred on Monday, June 14, when Mr. Andrews arranged a delightful conversation with SUSAN STAMBERG, one of the radio pioneers who made All Things Considered an essential part of our lives. In 1999 Mr. Andrews hosted an evening with Linda Wertheimer and Cokie Roberts, two of Susan's NPR colleagues, at the National Press Club. Three years earlier he'd asked Ms. Stamberg, who helped launch the Gielgud Award in 1994, to interview Kenneth Branagh (who would go on to to win that trophy in January of 2000) at the Smithsonian Institution. Two years later Ms. Stamberg interviewed 1998 Gielgud laureate Zoe Caldwell and her husband Robert Whitehead at the Folger Shakespeare Library. What led to this summer's program with her was a remarkable new book, Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie, a tribute to "The Founding Mothers of NPR" by arts journalist Lisa Napoli. It's a riveting narrative, and if you click here you'll enjoy a memorable dialogue with the first of its title characters, a legend whose many honors include a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame.

A few days later, on Tuesday, June 22, cabaret artist Shana Farr, who serves as Vice-President for The Players, hosted a wide-ranging discussion with Guild president JOHN ANDREWS. To enjoy this dialogue, click here.

Our most recent event, on Sunday, September 19, was a delightful follow-up conversation with IAN MCKELLEN, who by then was thrilling audiences in a production of Hamlet at Theatre Royal Windsor. At 82, Sir Ian was starring in an age-blind, color-blind, and gender-blind presentation of the drama with which Players founder Edwin Booth concluded his career in 1891 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Co-hosted by cabaret artist Shana Farr and Guild president John Andrews, this program was presented under the auspices of The Players. To watch it, click here.

Click here for background on the Guild's signature Speaking of Shakespeare series, which commenced in 1998 at the National Press Club in Washington, and has included programs at the British Embassy, the Shakespeare Theatre Company, the University Club, the Washington Club, and the Woman's National Democratic Club in D.C., the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the Windy City, and such New York institutions as the Algonquin Hotel, the English-Speaking Union, the Lambs, the Princeton Club, and the Schimmel Center at Pace University.

And for details about offerings that have been presented in previous seasons, click on the years that follow: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.


Looking back to what now seems like a previous era, in October of 2019 we celebrated the 25th anniversaries of two GIELGUD milestones (the establishment of an award in Sir John's name, and the renaming of a venue that had been known as the Globe when he performed there) with festivities in honor of producer CAMERON MACKINTOSH that took place in a pair of historic settings: the venerable Guildhall in the City of London and the newly-refurbished Gielgud Theatre in London's West End. It was Sir Richard Eyre, who'd been honored in Sir John's name the previous year, who bestowed our trophy on Sir Cameron.


Meanwhile in the Land of Enchantment, after several seasons of support for productions at St. John's College and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, the Guild has continued to broaden its scope through liaisons with organizations such as Journey Santa Fe, the Lensic Performing Arts Center (contributing "Great Conversations" to its online programming), the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, the New Mexico Actors Lab, and Theatre Santa Fe.

During the summers of 2017 and 2018 the Guild co-hosted SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN, joining the Santa Fe Botanical Garden and Shakespeare in Santa Fe on productions of
The Tempest in 2017 and A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2018. During the summer of 2019 we collaborated with Santa Fe Classic Theater on a presentation of Romeo and Juliet that ran from May 31 through June 9 and was glowingly reviewed by the Santa Fe Reporter. Once again tickets sold rapidly, and we were immensely grateful for the Bardtenders who joined us for another season of theatrical charm. For background on the play, attendees were referred to a Routledge anthology of commentary about what is often described as the world's most resonant love story. They also enjoyed a KSFR radio feature about the production, hosted by SFBG's Clayton Bass and Lindsay Taylor and featuring director Patrick Briggs and Guild president John Andrews.

As we put the finishing touches on our third presentation of SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN, we were still relishing what the Guild had co-produced on Santa Fe's bustling Museum Hill in previous summers. For details about a 2018 Dream show that was warmly welcomed, for example, click here. And for background on the presentation, see Jennifer Levin's article about "The Ecology of Shakespeare" in Pasatiempo and listen to radio interviews in which the Garden's Clayton Bass and the Guild's John Andrews talked with KSFR host Lynn Cline. Also of interest might be a program that Peter Lloyd hosted with musician Mary Springfels and Mr. Andrews on KSFR's "Classical Sunday."

To encourage supporters to help sustain the work of a dramatist who was still electrifying audiences in his 454th year, we established a Bardtenders support group for SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN. And we offered cultivation events such as a TLC dialogue that took place Tuesday, July 31st. This gathering, under the auspices of Theatre Santa Fe, followed a March 29th Food for Thought dinner at La Fonda on the Plaza and a May 29th benefit, Ever the Twain, which took place at the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Under the direction of Lois Rudnick and Jonathan Richards, this revival of a fantasia that enchanted attendees in January 2016 was enthusiastically received, and those who arranged it were eager to revive it in other settings.

As we relished the highlights of our 2018 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, we were also savoring an SFBG rendering of The Tempest that graced the Garden amphitheater in August 2017. More than 1500 attendees applauded a show that featured superb acting, charming music and special effects, and an exquisite set by designer Jay Bush. To learn more about SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN 2017, read the informative background article by Jennifer Levin and a review by James M. Keller in Pasatiempo, the Santa Fe New Mexican's weekly cultural supplement.

This production was brilliantly directed by Nagle Jackson, who'd helped artistic director Rachel Kelly preside over several seasons of Shakespeare in Santa Fe between 1997 and 2002. Mr. Jackson had 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." Our 2017 Tempest took place in a magic circle that evoked such predecessors as the amphitheaters of Greek antiquity, the "Wooden O" that Shakespeare evokes in his prologue to Henry V, and the Zia Sun Symbol that adorns the New Mexico flag. Pulsating with reminders that an aging playwright was scripting his valedictory drama at the same time that a Spanish army was seeking to establish a "brave new world" on terrain which had been occupied for centuries by earlier settlers, this rendering of a classic score proved especially pertinent for audiences in the Southwest.

For an overview about The Tempest, attendees were encouraged to read the foreword that Sir John Gielgud generously contributed to John Andrews' 1994 Everyman Shakespeare edition of the play, as well as the Editor's Introduction that followed it. They also enjoyed Ellen Berkovitch's KSFR radio feature about Shakespeare in the Garden, as well as conversations with KVSF host Richard Eeds and KBAC host Honey Harris. In response to the show, several wrote letters that appeared in the New Nexican. And a few weeks after the production concluded, Mr. Andrews offered some late-September "Reflections on The Tempest" as part of a lecture series that he'd inaugurated a quarter of a century earlier at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.


As we reflect on the recent death of Sidney Poitier, a great actor and an inspiring leader, our thoughts return to the life and legacy of the gifted teacher, writer, and cultural ambassador who inspired one of Mr. Poitier's most memorable roles.

On Saturday, March 25, 2017, the Guild played a small role in a Washington National Cathedral memorial service for E. R. Braithwaite, the author who gave us To Sir, With Love, a 1959 literary best-seller that became a celebrated 1967 film with Poitier in the role that Mr. Braithwaite's autobiographical novel 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 lovely Bethlehem Chapel. The service concluded with an organ rendering of Lulu's musical tribute to "Sir," a recording that had been popular music's number-one single 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 and now seems particularly resonant. And click here for links to Mr. Andrews' C-SPAN appearances with other authors, among them ecologist Lester R. Brown, political leader Susan Eisenhower, Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells, and cultural historian A. N. Wilson.


For detail about these and other endeavors, we encourage you to browse these pages, clicking on the blue links that serve as navigation keys to an ever-expanding array of enriching material. Among other things, you'll observe that our BACKGROUND section provides a rich variety of perspectives on Shakespeare's world, work, and influence, many of them featuring unique contributions by or about eminent actors, directors, producers, playwrights, historians, critics, arts journalists, and other cultural leaders.


By design most of the Guild's offerings are admission-free; but of course that doesn't mean they're cost-free. So any help you provide will be gratefully received and promptly acknowledged. If you wish to contribute to our activities, either by enrolling or renewing as a Guild member or by assisting us with a tax-exempt donation, we'll be delighted, and we'll look forward to welcoming you to events such as our April 23 festivities at Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.