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.


We're delighted to report that the recipient of our 2018 Gielgud trophy, presented at a UK Theatre Awards luncheon on Sunday, October 14, in London's historic Guildhall, is director, producer, filmmaker, and author Sir Richard Eyre. Sir Richard's riveting television production of King Lear, with Sir Anthony Hopkins in the title role, debuted recently 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, is now gripping audiences in cinemas around the globe.

Bestowing this year's award was our inaugural Gielgud laureate, Sir Ian McKellen. When he received his own trophy, in a ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library on May 20, 1996, Sir Ian used the occasion to recall a powerful admonition from The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore and relate it to what Justice Anthony Kennedy had said earlier that day as he delivered a pivotal Supreme Court ruling that "no state may 'deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.'"

Sir Ian is now earning plaudits in a resonant West End stage production of King Lear that is being shared with the rest of the world by means of HD technology. And as he presented our 2018 Gielgud trophy, he emphasized how much Sir John did, not only to exemplify meticulous standards in the performance of Shakespeare and other classics, but to encourage and support the efforts of younger actors. He extolled Sir Richard for the same qualities, and talked about how much he and his colleagues enjoyed the opportunity to work with so gifted and sensitive a director.

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 influential institutions as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. With this in mind, Sir Richard noted, in an aside that was loudly applauded by an appreciative Guildhall audience, that he was "constantly bewildered by the fact that local authorities and government can't see what an extraordinary, unique asset" such cultural treasures are, not only in London but throughout the United Kingdom.

Click here for some visual highlights of what turned out to be a deeply moving occasion. And for one of the numerous media accounts of the festivities, click here.

More details about the ceremony will follow shortly. In the interim we're still 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 an award in Sir John's name, 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. And click here for additional background on what has become one of the most coveted accolades in the profession it was designed to celebrate.


We've launched 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 evening that featured previews of the six installments that will conclude this impressive 18-play series in October. The following week, on Tuesday-Thursday, September 25-27, we joined the Players Foundation to host stage readings of the three segments of em>The Lives of Shakespeare, a new trilogy by playwright Mary Jane Schaefer in which she presents diverse perspectives on what Shakespeare might have been like, drawing from historical facts, contemporary anecdotes, and suggestive details in the author's poems and plays.

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. Mr. Marks is one of today's most influential arts journalists, and we look forward to a discussion that will address not only what is now happening in the Nation's Capital, but what audiences are experiencing in New York, London, and a variety of other theatrical settings.

Addtiional attractions, not only at The Players and the National Arts Club but at other venues in New York and elsewhere, will be announced shortly. For information about previous engagements in a Speaking series that is now in its fourth decade, click here.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.