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 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.

SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN 2018

As summer arrives, the Guild is focusing on its upcoming presentation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, to be produced in association with the Santa Fe Botanical Garden between August 17 and September 2; for details and ticketing options, click here. With that in mind, we've launched a new Bardtenders support group for SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN. And we're engaging in cultivation events such as a Food for Thought dinner at La Fonda on the Plaza and a May 29 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 had enchanted theatergoers in January 2016 was enthusiastically applauded, and plans are now underway for additional presentations in other settings.

SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE

Meanwhile, now that the 2017-18 season of our signature conversation series has drawn to a close in Manhattan, we look forward to a new round of evenings such as the one with New Yorker favorite Adam Gopnik that took place on Thursday, June 14, at the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park. We'll soon be announcing our 2018-19 attractions, among them stimulating programs not only at the NAC but next door at The Players.

We opened our recently-completed roster 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 concluding season as Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. One of our attendees, Leslie Weisman, generously shared some reflections on the portion of that 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.

GIELGUD AWARD

One highlight of an eventful 2017 occurred Sunday, October 15, when the Guild bestowed its prestigious Gielgud Award on 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 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 2017

As we prepare for our 2018 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, to take place between August 17 and September 2 at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden, we're savoring 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 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. 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.

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.

A FAREWELL SALUTE TO HOMER SWANDER

Because he requested that there be no memorial service or detailed obituary, many of his admirers are unlikely to have heard 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 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 recently in The Guardian. And click here for a more extended homage by Sir Patrick that Guardian editors had to abbreviate because of limited space.