Welcome to The Shakespear Guild
We extend warm greetings to those who are new to the Guild, and immense gratitude to those who've participated in our programs and contributed to the success of our many initiatives.

Like millions of others, among them such prominent figures as Nina Totenberg, Linda Greenhouse, and F. Murray Abraham, we're pausing to commemorate the life and legacy of RUTH BADER GINSBURG. Widely recognized for her love of opera, a devotion she shared with Justice Antonin Scalia (her friend and ideological opposite on the U.S. Supreme Court), "The Notorious RBG" was equally dedicated to other forms of artistic expression, a point that drama critic Peter Marks emphasized in his eloquent tribute to her in the Washington Post. As his remarks made clear, it was altogether in character for Justice Ginsburg to grace a May 2007 GIELGUD AWARD ceremony at the British Embassy and extol director Michael Kahn for all he'd done to establish the Shakespeare Theatre Company as one of the most vibrant cultural institutions in America's capital city. For details about that memorable occasion, we encourage you to scroll down to page three of the June 2007 bulletin of ESU Washington, and then proceed to the lead article in the Spring/Summer 2007 issue of Shakespeare Newsletter.

Last October the Guild celebrated the 25th anniversaries of a pair of earlier GIELGUD milestones, with festivities in honor of producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh that took place in two historic settings: the venerable Guildhall in the City of London and the newly-refurbished Gielgud Theatre in London's West End. Bestowing our 2019 trophy was director Sir Richard Eyre, who'd been honored in Sir John's name the previous year.

While those GIELGUD events were being arranged in the UK, the Guild was augmenting its popular SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE offerings in Manhattan's Gramercy Park, with new attractions such as Afternoon Salons at the National Arts Club and an expanding roster of performance-focused engagements next door at The Players.

Meanwhile in the Land of Enchantment, after several years of support for drama productions in venues such as St. John's College and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, the Guild was broadening its scope to include liaisons with other organizations, among them Journey Santa Fe, the Lensic Performing Arts Center (contributing "Great Conversations" to its online programming), the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, and Theatre Santa Fe.

For more detail about these and other endeavors, we encourage you to browse these pages, clicking on the blue links that serve as navigation keys to a constantly expanding array of edifying material. Among other things, you'll see that we've augmented our
BACKGROUND section to offer a 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.

If you feel disposed to support our activities, either by envolling as a Guild member or by helping us with a donation, we'll be delighted. By design, most of our offerings are admission-free; but of course that doesn't mean they're cost-free. So any tax-exempt assistance you provide will be warmly received and promptly acknowledged.


Like other institutions, the Guild is now using digital formats for engagements that would normally be presented in traditional gatherings. The most recent of these offerings, recorded September 13 in association with Santa Fe's Lensic Performing Arts Center, is a conversation with Jim Dale, a celebrated performer who garnered an Oscar nomination as lyricist for the theme song in "Georgy Girl," who won a Tony Award for his title role in "Barnum," and who holds multiple Grammy Awards for his evocative recordings of "Harry Potter." Click here to enjoy the charming anecdotes he shares with Lensic executive director Joel Aalberts and Guild president John Andrews about his extraordinary career as a singer, composer, actor, director, raconteur, and narrator.

Another memorable dialogue, recorded in late June by the National Arts Club in Manhattan but held for realease until August 19, is a conversation with Harvard's Stephen Greenblatt. It commences with a discussion of the prescient op-ed that Professor Greenblatt published in the New York Times a few weeks before America's 2016 presidential election. It then focuses on Tyrant, his 2018 volume about Shakespeare's insights into how corrupt authoritarians seize and maintain power. From there it proceeds to a broader consideration of the classical education a budding playwright received in grammar school, and how it equipped him to produce resonant masterpieces that led a contemporary dramatist, Ben Jonson, to eulogize him in the 1623 First Folio as an artist who was "not of an age, but for all time." For an eloquent illustration of the way Professor Greenblatt's books and articles are influencing today's political commentary, see a recent Times column by Maureen Dowd.

On June 23 we arranged a special afternoon session with F. Murray Abraham, a YouTube conversation that permitted the Guild to introduce a charismatic actor who grew up in the Southwest to his many admirers at Santa Fe's Lensic Performing Arts Center. A few weeks later, on August 12, we enjoyed a delightful National Arts Club conversation with actor John Douglas Thompson, who portrayed the Duke of York in the New York Public Theater's recent WNYC audio presentation of Richard II. Now available on the NAC@Home YouTube channel, this program was promoted by both Broadway World and Thought Gallery, and it concluded with pertinent questions from a number of well-informed viewers.

Looking back a few weeks, we extend thanks to those who joined us May 26 for a riveting dialogue with Columbia's James Shapiro. This engaging discussion was hosted by the NAC, and it gave participants a chance to explore Shakespeare in a Divided America, the timely subject of Professor Shapiro's most recent book. It's now viewable on the Lensic's "Great Conversations" page.

To offer a deeper perspective on today's social and political conflicts, we're now encouraging Guild constituents to revisit a 2007 C-SPAN2 interview with the late E. R. Braithwaite, the author who gave us To Sir, With Love, a 1959 memoir about racial struggles in London that provided Sidney Poitier with one of his finest roles in an award-winning film whose theme song, recorded by Lulu, was Billboard magazine's top single of 1967. For more detail about Ambassador Braithwaite, who died in 2016 at the age of 104, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

As we recall the days before Covid-19 changed our lives, many of us are now feeling nostalgic about evenings such as the one that occurred on February 26 at The Players (16 Gramercy Park South in Manhattan) with two of America's most distinguished visual artists, illustrators James McMullan and Edward Sorel. This exchange, which took place in the club's atmospheric Hampden-Booth Library, was recorded by Ed's son, Leo Sorel, and thanks to him and his colleague James Salzano we're pleased to make it available here for viewing.

Because of the Trumpidemic that followed that special occasion, we've postponed a number of SOS offerings. Yet to be rescheduled are programs with Ron Rosenbaum (a prolific journalist whose publications include The Shakespeare Wars), with musical artist Shana Farr, and with Scott Newstok (a scholar who's drawing upon "Lessons from a Renaissance Education" to explain How to Think Like Shakespeare).

In the interim we're pleased to note that among the resources that are currently available in digital formats are four Shakespeare Birthplace Trust lectures by Sir Stanley Wells about what the playwright was really like. This series features prefatory remarks by Professor Russell Jackson of the University of Birmingham, Artistic Director Gregory Doran of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Pofessor Lena Cowen Orlin of Georgetown University, and Professor Michael Dobson of the Shakespeare institute.

We launched our 2019-20 SOS series with Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker on Monday evening, September 30, at The Players. Our primary focus was Mr. Gopnik's new book, A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism, a brilliant analysis of contemporary life that David Brooks had commended in an eloquent column for the New York Times. But we also explored a broad spectrum of other topics, among them the insights a sensitive scrutiny of Shakespeare brings to the social and political challenges we're currently experiencing.

On Monday, November 18, we returned to The Players for a wide-ranging conversation with Washington Post drama critic
Peter Marks. An influential arts journalist who was augmenting his regular theater reviews with a unique series of performance-oriented observations about candidates for the 2020 presidential election, Mr. Marks treated us to incisive comments about what he observed when he looked in on the campaigns of Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren.

We welcomed 2020 on Friday, January 24, at the National Arts Club, where we relished a scintillating presentation by
Jim Dale, a remarkable performing artist who who holds multiple Grammy Awards for his evocative recordings of "Harry Potter." This was our third event with Mr. Dale, who entertained us with hilarious anecdotes and memorable vignettes from one of the most extraordinary careers in the history of show business and then responded to questions and comments from an enthusiastic audience.

A few days later, on Monday, January 27, we gathered at The Players with actor, director, producer, and author Dakin Matthews, who was riveting audiences as Judge Taylor in playwright Aaron Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher's phenomenal Broadway adaptation of novelist Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. After hearing Mr. Matthews' reflections about that remarkable drama, and discussing some of the other highlights of his extraordinary career, we were treated to his informative observations about three Shakespearean sonnets (numbers 17, 18, and 104), which he analyzed as powerful illustrations of the same rhetorical techniques that a brilliant playwright employed in his dramatic masterpieces.

As we look forward to engagements in 2021 and beyond, we continue to savor such delights as the spring events that concluded our 2018-19 season. One was a special afternoon salon with cultural leader Linda Zagaria in Manhattan's National Arts Club on Tuesday, June 25. Another program, next door that evening at The Players, was an entertaining dialogue with New Yorker favorites Roz Chast and Patricia Marx. They discussed and signed copies of their illustrated guide to the care and tending of hard-to-please mothers, Why Don't You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?, and charmed us with ukulele duets similar to those that had captivated audiences at the legendary Carlyle Hotel. They've described their performances as exercises in "ukelear meltdown," and we're hoping that in the future they'll bill themselves as the Ukuladies.

We're also cherishing two mid-May events in 2019, highlights of a SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE series that had entered its third decade a few months earlier. One was a memorable conversation with F. Murray Abraham, who joined us for a special evening at the National Arts Club on Monday, May 13. Best known for the Academy Award he earned as Antonio Salieri in the film version of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, Mr. Abraham had won a new generation of admirers in the role of Dar Adal on Showtime's mesmerizing Homeland series. In 2010 the Guild honored him with a Gielgud trophy during a Grand Gallery ceremony that featured such luminaries as Tom Hulce and Ann Meara and Jerry Stiller, and warm memories of that NAC gala resurfaced as admirers enjoyed another enriching engagement with one of today's most charismatic performers. The next afternoon, Tuesday, May 14, we returned to the club's welcoming parlor for a Salon with John Douglas Thompson, an impressive actor who was earning plaudits as Kent in a Broadway presentation that starred Glenda Jackson in the title role of King Lear.

For information about previous highlights in the Guild's two decades of Speaking engagements, not only at multiple venues in New York, but at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater in the Windy City, at the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, and at such institutions as the British Embassy, the National Press Club, the University Club, and the Woman's National Democratic Club in Washington, click


As noted above, our most recent Gielgud Award, presented on Monday, October 28, paid tribute to the extraordinary achievements of Sir Cameron Mackintosh. Once again our Award festivities took place in conjunction with the UK Theatre Awards Luncheon. And once again our Award selection was featured in publications such as Broadway World and The Stage. As it happened, however, this presentation occurred, not as usual in London's venerable Guildhall on Sunday, October 27, but at the beautiful Gielgud Theatre the following afternoon. As you'll see if you click on a brief overview about the gathering, it proved to be a memorable occasion, and one that paid tribute not only to this year's Award recipient but to Clive Francis, the actor and visual artist whose caricatures are among the highlights of a venue that is now a shrine to the Gielgud legacy.

Fifteen years earlier, on April 19, 2004, the Guild had joined the RSC and RADA in that resonant setting for a remarkable Gielgud Centenary Gala. Our October 2019 gathering vividly recalled that occasion. But it also commemorated two anniversaries that date back a quarter of a century: (a) the establishment of a new award in Sir John's name, which was announced on April 24, 1994, at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, and (b) the renaming of a venue on Shaftesbury Avenue that had been known as the Globe prior to November 2, 1994, when it became the Gielgud Theatre in recognition of Sir John's exemplary accomplishments, not least among them fifteen major productions in that prestigious setting.

Bestowing our 2019 trophy was Sir Richard Eyre, who was busy directing a revival of Mary Poppins at London's Prince Edward Theatre. In addition to his many achievements in the profession for which he is best known, Sir Richard is a distinguished producer, filmmaker, and author, and it was he who received our 2018 Gielgud Award at last October's UK Theatre Awards luncheon. Sir Richard's riveting television production of King Lear, with Sir Anthony Hopkins in the title role, had debuted a few weeks earlier on Amazon Prime Video. Meanwhile his evocative feature film, The Children Act, co-starring Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci and featuring Fionn Whitehead in a screenplay by novelist Ian McEwan, was gripping moviegoers around the globe. And if those credits were not enough, Sir Richard was also directing Laura Linney in My Name Is Lucy Barton, a "beautifully nuanced solo performance" (to quote Michael Billington of The Guardian) that will open on Broadway in January.

Our 2018 award had been presented by Sir Ian McKellen, the Guild's inaugural Gielgud laureate, who was himself appearing in a West End staging of King Lear that had been shared cinematically with audiences throughout the world. When he'd received his own trophy, during a ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library on May 20, 1996, Sir Ian had graced the occasion not only with praise for Sir John, but with a powerful recitation from The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore, relating the words that Shakespeare had composed for the script's title character to remarks that Justice Anthony Kennedy had uttered earlier that day while he was delivering a pivotal Supreme Court ruling that "no state may 'deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.'"

As he bestowed the 2018 Gielgud trophy, Sir Ian recalled how much Sir John did, not only to exemplify meticulous standards in his own presentations of Shakespeare and other playwrights, but to encourage and support the efforts of other performers, among them those who were just beginning their careers. Sir Ian extolled Richard Eyre for the same qualities, and he emphasized how much everyone who cherishes the dramatic arts has benefited from his many contributions to our cultural lives.

In response, Sir Richard praised McKellen as "a wonderful actor and a very good friend, and the natural artistic son of John Gielgud." And he amplified Sir Ian's remarks about Sir John, observing that Gielgud's focus on building strong repertory ensembles prepared the way for such extraordinary institutions as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. With this in mind he noted, in an aside that was fervently applauded by an appreciative UK Theatre audience, that he was "constantly bewildered by the fact that local authorities and government can't see what an extraordinary, unique asset" such treasures are, not only in London but throughout the United Kingdom.

Media accounts of the festivities included stories in BBC News, BT.com, Irish News, and York Press. Click here for visual highlights of a deeply moving occasion. And click here for background on the Award.


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.


On Saturday, November 11, 2018, John Miller, a key member of the Guild's distinguished Advisory Council, produced an evocative memorial service at England's Theatre Royal Winchester that featured recitations by performers Pamela Miles and Michael Pennington. For details about a program that highlighted responses to World War I by such gifted poets as Rupert Brooke, John McCrae, Wilfred Owen, and Sigfried Sassoon, and by such eloquent statesmen as David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, click here. And for a look at the deeply moving script that Mr. Miller assembled for the proceedings, click here.


As his loved ones and admirers were eulogizing John McCain, a statesman who died on August 25, 2018, a number of Shakespeare Guild constituents were thinking back to July 4, 2005, when the Senator was at Dartmouth House in London to deliver the inaugural Alistair Cooke Memorial Lecture. Among the attendees at this occasion was John F. Andrews, who headed both the Guild and the Nation's Capital Branch of the English-Speaking Union at that time, and his wife Jan Denton. For an overview on the event, click here. For details about ESU Washington's role in the what turned out to be a special occasion, click here and scroll down to the second page. Also of interest might be a Guardian interview with Senator McCain that supplemented his formal remarks about "An American Patriot Today". For additional detail see the information that appeared on the BBC website and the additional background provided in the September 2005 ESU London newsletter.


Because he requested that there be no memorial service or detailed obituary, many of his colleagues were late in learning that Homer D. Swander, known to most of his friends as "Murph," died in Santa Barbara at the age of 96 on February 15, 2018. Professor Swander served for many years on the Editorial Board of Shakespeare Quarterly, and he contributed seminal articles about the editing and performing of playwright's scripts. One of his many contributions to the teaching of dramatic literature lives on in Actors From The London Stage, a program now administered by the University of Notre Dame, and the Guild paid tribute to him and to AFTLS during the October 2015 UK Theatre Awards luncheon at London's historic Guildhall. For details about that ceremony, and about Dr. Swander's powerful influence, click here and scroll down to the paragraphs at the bottom of the page. Click here for a tribute to Murph that his devoted friend Sir Patrick Stewart published in The Guardian. And click here for a more extended homage that Guardian editors had to abbreviate because of limited space.


On Saturday, March 25, 2017, the Guild played a role in a Washington National Cathedral memorial service for E. R. Braithwaite, an author renowned for To Sir, With Love, a 1959 literary best-seller that became a celebrated 1967 film with Sidney 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.


The Guild is now in discussions with musicologist Mary Springfels about future programs that would be comparable to a February 2017 concert in what is said to be America's oldest church. A co-production with Severall Friends, an early-music ensemble that draws its name from Elizabethan composer Matthew Locke, Shakespeare at San Miguel took place in a chapel whose foundations date from the poet's lifetime. Highlighted by acclaimed instrumentalists and singers, this special evening featured eleven of Shakespeare's 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.