Welcome to The Shakespear Guild
We extend greetings to those who are visiting this site for the first time, and fervent thanks to those who have participated in and contributed to the success of our many programs. For details about recent initiatives -- many of them in historic settings such as San Miguel Church in Santa Fe, the Bethlehem Chapel in Washington's National Cathedral, The Players in Manhattan's Gramercy Park, and the Guildhall in London -- we encourage you to browse these pages, clicking on the blue links that serve as navigation devices. We'll also be grateful if you wish to support our educational and cultural endeavors by providing a tax-exempt donation, by enrolling as a Guild member, or by registering for one or more of our upcoming events.

SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE

We're launching the 2018-19 season of our signature SOS series in Manhattan with four remarkable evenings at The Players. On Monday, Seprember 17, we joined Stephen Segaller, WNET's Vice-President for National Programming, producers Richard Denton and Nikki Stockley, and such special guests as actor F. Murray Abraham and Folger director Michael Witmore for a memorable overview about Season Three of Shakespeare Uncovered, an event that featured previews of the six installments that will conclude this impressive 18-play series in October. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, September 25-27, we'll join the Players Foundation to host stage readings of the three segments of The Lives of Shakespeare, a new trilogy by playwright Mary Jane Schaefer in which she presents differing perspectives on what Shakespeare might have been like, drawing from historical facts, contemporary anecdotes, and suggestive details in the author's poems and plays. All three "Lives" will commence at 7 p.m. and will be admission-free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, October 17, we'll move next door to the National Arts Club for an engaging dialogue with Peter Marks, chief theater critic for The Washington Post. Addtiional attractions, not only at The Players and the National Arts Club but at other New York venues, will be announced shortly.

We opened our recently-completed season of SOS engagements on Friday, October 6, 2017, with educator Joanna Read, who heads the London Academy of 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 talked with WNET executive Stephen Segaller, who previewed this spring's attractions in a series called Shakespeare Uncovered, a three-year, 18-episode co-production with the BBC that provides charming introductions to the most popular plays in the dramatic repertory.

On Monday, January 29, 2018, we focused on the inspiring 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 DC, we chatted with actor and director Keith Baxter, who was delighting Washington audiences in three roles (the Ghost, the Player King, and the Gravedigger) in a production of Hamlet that highlights Michael Kahn's penultimate season as Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. One of our attendees, Leslie Weisman, generously shared some reflections on the portion of our conversation that focused on Orson Welles, the actor, director, and producer with whom Mr. Baxter worked when he portrayed Prince Hal in Chimes at Midnight, a 1966 film classic that starred Welles as Falstaff and Sir John Gielgud as King Henry IV. On February 28 we returned to Manhattan for a memorable NAC evening with with producer Eleanor Bergstein of "Dirty Dancing" fame. On March 20 we hosted a gathering at The Players with artistic director Jesse Berger of the Red Bull Theatre. On April 18 we were back at the NAC with cultural historian Edward Tenner. And on May 15 we repaired to The Players for a wide-ranging discussion with renowned director Sir Richard Eyre, whose scintillating production of Long Day's Journey into Night had just opened at BAM's Harvey Theatre with Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville in starring roles. We concluded our 2017-18 season with New Yorker favorite Adam Gopnik in an extraordinarily resonant gathering that took place on Thursday, June 14, at the NAC.

GIELGUD AWARD

We're delighted to announce that the recipient of our 2018 Gielgud trophy, to be presented at a UK Theatre Awards luncheon Sunday, October 14, in London's historic Guildhall, will be director, producer, and prolific author Sir Richard Eyre. More details about this year's festivities will follow shortly. In the interim we're savoring a ceremony that occurred on October 15, 2017, when the Guild paid tribute to playwright David Hare. Sir David was the first dramatist to receive a Gielgud, and attendees were deeply moved by the eloquent remarks he delivered as he accepted this year's beautiful Clive Francis trophy. The ceremony took place as part of a UK Theatre Awards luncheon in one of London's most legendary institutions, an edifice Shakespeare refers to in Richard III. And as usual it received extensive media coverage, with illustrated stories in such news sources as Broadway World, What's On Stage, The Stage, and Theatre News.

Among the things that made this presentation special was that it reinforced a ceremony 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 by Christian Bace of English Heritage.

SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN 2018

This summer the Guild co-produced A Midsummer Night's Dream in collaboration with Shakespeare in Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. For details about a show that was warmly welcomed, click here. And for background on the production, see Jennifer Levin's article about "The Ecology of Shakespeare" in the August 17th issue of Pasatiempo. You might also enjoy interviews in which the Garden's Clayton Bass and the Guild's John Andrews talked with KTRC host Richard Eeds and with KSFR host Lynn Cline. And you might be interested in a conversation that Peter Lloyd hosted with musicologist Mary Springfels and Mr. Andrews on KSFR's "Classical Sunday."

To encourage audiences to help sustain the work of a playwright who's now in his 453rd 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 applauded, and plans are now underway for additional presentations in other settings.

SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN 2017

As we savor the highlights of our 2018 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, we're also relishing a presentation of The Tempest that was presented in August 2017 at the same venue. More than 1500 attendees applauded a show that featured superb acting, entrancing 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 the judicious review by James M. Keller in Pasatiempo, the Santa Fe New Mexican's unique cultural supplement.

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 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." His 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 a Spanish army was seeking to establish its "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 Eeds 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.

SHAKESPEARE AT SAN MIGUEL

On February 24, 2017, the Guild co-sponsored a resonant entertainment in what is widely thought 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, the concert 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.

REMEMBERING JOHN McCAIN

As his many admirers recall John McCain, a number of Shakespeare Guild constituents are 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 background on the event, and for an account of the gathering that appeared in the ESU Washington newsletter for September 2005, click here and scroll down to the second page. For other coverage of Senator McCain's remarks about "An American Patriot Today" during what turned out to be a memorable occasion, see page 3 of the ESU London newsletter, and see the stories that appeared on the BBC website and elsewhere.

A TRIBUTE TO THE AUTHOR OF "TO SIR, WITH LOVE"

A few weeks later, 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 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 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.

A FAREWELL SALUTE TO HOMER SWANDER

Because he requested that there be no memorial service or detailed obituary, many of his admirers were late to hear 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 by Sir Patrick that Guardian editors had to abbreviate because of limited space.