Welcome to The Shakespear Guild
We extend greetings to those who are new to the Guild, and thanks to those who've contributed to the success of our many programs. In Manhattan we're now augmenting our popular SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE offerings with a new series of AFTERNOON SALONS. In London we're commemorating the 25th anniversaries of two GIELGUD milestones that date from 1994: the creation of a Guild-sponsored life-achievement award to perpetuate Sir John's legacy in the dramatic arts, and the remaming of a storied West End theatre that was known as the Globe when he and his colleagues performed there. Meanwhile in Santa Fe we're preparing an early-summer sequel to the SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN productions that charmed local audiences in 2017 and 2018.

For background on recent events -- many of them in historic settings such as San Miguel Church in America's oldest capital city, the Bethlehem Chapel in Washington's National Cathedral, The Players and the National Arts Club in Manhattan's Gramercy Park, and the Guildhall and Middle Temple Hall 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 feel disposed to support our educational and cultural endeavors by registering for one or more of our upcoming events, by enrolling as a Guild member, or by providing a tax-exempt donation. By design most of our offerings are admission-free; but of course that doesn't mean they're cost-free. So any assistance you can provide will be warmly received, and your kind generosity will be promptly acknowledged.


At the moment we're focused on attractions that will commemorate Shakespeare's 455th birthday. The first of these will be a 2 p.m. Salon on Tuesday, April 23, at the National Arts Club with filmmaker Melinda Hall, who'll talk about the fascinating interviews she's recorded with stars such as F. Murray Abraham, Cicely Berry, Stacy Keach, Sir Ben Kingsley, Estelle Parsons, and Liev Schreiber for a remarkable YouTube series called How Shakespeare Changed My Life. A few hours later we'll move next door to The Players for a 7 p.m. presentation of Ever the Twain: William Shakespeare in Mark Twain's America, drawing on a script that has been presented twice at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe. The following day, at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, we'll enjoy a delightful overview about The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey with Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte.

Looking ahead, we're pleased to announce that F. Murray Abraham will be our guest for a National Arts Club gathering at 8 p.m. Monday, May 13. Best known for the Academy Award he earned for his portrayal of Antonio Salieri in the film version of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, Mr. Abraham has won a new generation of admirers as Dar Adal on Showtime's remarkable Homeland series. In 2010 the Guild honored Mr. Abraham with a Gielgud trophy during a joyous NAC ceremony that featured such luminaries as Tom Hulce and Ann Meara and Jerry Stiller.

At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, we'll be at the NAC for a Salon that focuses on actor John Douglas Thompson, who'll talk, among other things, about his role as the Earl of Kent in the Broadway presentation of a long-anticipated production of Shakespeare's most cosmic tragedy, with Glenda Jackson as King Lear. A few hours later we'll move next door to The Players for a 7 p.m. SOS gathering with Michael Learned, an actress best known to television audiences as Olivia Walton in The Waltons, but equally familiar to New York theatergoers for her roles in such Broadway classics as Edward Albee's Three Tall Women and Gore Vidal's The Best Man.

Looking ahead to Tuesday, June 25, we're eagerly anticipating a 2 p.m. Afternoon Salon at the National Arts Club with club President Linda Zagaria and a 7 p.m. gathering next door at The Players with New Yorker favorites Roz Chast and Patricia Marx, who'll discuss their illustrated guide to the care and tending of hard-to-please mothers: Why Don't Your Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It?

Additional programs, both at the NAC and at The Players, will be announced shortly.

Our most recent offerings in an SOS series that is now in its third decade occurred in two of New York's most celebrated venues. We opened an eventful sequence at 8 p.m. Monday, January 28, in the Grand Gallery of the National Arts Club at 15 Gramercy Park South, where we talked with actor, director, producer, and author Dakin Matthews. Dakin is currently charming audiences as Judge Taylor in an acclaimed Broadway presentation of To Kill a Mockingbird, and during what turned out to be a memorable evening he discussed not only his pivotal role in that play but his many contributions to the presentation of other classics on stage and screen. Then, to everyone's surprise and delight, he concluded an extroardinary gathering with a brief master class on scansion, focusing brilliantly on ways to approach a famous speech in The Merchant of Venice.

The following night, Tuesday, January 29, we moved next door to the venerable Dining Room and Theatre of The Players at 16 Gramercy Park South for a 7 p.m. gathering with Frog & Peach, a company that was founded by members of The Actors Studio to explore new approaches to Shakespeare's classics. Between February 22 and March 17 this energetic troupe presented Twelfth Night at the Sheen Center (18 Bleecker Street), and director Lynnea Benson and her talented performers offered vivid illustrations of the artistry of an ensemble that has featured such luminaries as Karen Lynn Gorney, Earl Hyman, and Austin Pendleton.

Earlier that day, at 2 p.m. on Tuesday the 29th in the beautiful Parlor of the National Arts Club, the Guild helped the NAC inaugurate a new series of Afternoon Salons, focusing a gentle spotlight on Alice Quinn of the Poetry Society of America, who spoke with warmth and eloquence about her work with some of the most influential writers of our era. Among the participants in this scintillating conversation were two prestigious sculptors, Babette Bloch and Marc Mellon, who were our guests for a similar gathering on Monday, February 25. That gathering was followed a few hours later by an 8 p.m. Speaking of Shakespeare conversation with acclaimed playwright and director Nagle Jackson.

A few weeks later, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, we moved next door for a special Players (16 Gramercy Park South) evening with multitalented performer Jim Dale, a musical artist who garrnered an Oscar nomination as composer of the theme song for "Georgy Girl," an actor who worked with Laurence Olivier's National Theatre Company and later won a Tony Award for his title role in "Barnum," and a narrator who holds two Grammy Awards for his recordings of "Harry Potter." The following day, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, we were back at the NAC for a wide-ranging SOS conversation with Ethan McSweeny, who has worked in such prestigious venues as the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Shakespeare Theatre Companhy in Washington and has recently become Artistic Director of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia.

We then drew an eventful week to a close on Friday the Ides of March, with an NAC Salon that featured a special tour of The Players. Raymond Wemmlinger, who oversees the Hampden-Booth Theatre Library and presides over The Players Foundation. Mr. Wemmlinger welcomed us to the final home of the club's founder, Edwin Booth. Among other things, we were reminded that one of the tragedian's favorite roles, Brutus, a character he'd portrayed during a benefit presentation of Julius Caesar on November 25, 1864, at New York's Winter Garden Theatre, was destined to be made notorious by the actor's younger brother, who staged his own "lofty scene" five months later on April 14, 1865, at Ford's Theatre in Washington. For background on what has been described as the most dramatic moment in American history, click here and follow the blue links in the opening paragraph.

We're continuing to savor the Speaking engagement that concluded our SOS offerings for 2018. It commenced at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 26, at The Players, where we hosted a fervent tribute to the Drama Book Shop, an institution whose vital assistance to Broadway, and to the nation's performing-arts community as a whole, has been recegnized by a special Tony Award. Among our eloquent speakers for that occasion were president Rozanne Seelen and vice-president Allen Lee Hubby of the Shop, actors Jim Dale, Jeffrey Hardy, and Peter Maloney, and writer Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker, who emphasized how essential cultural treasures like these are to the civic health of democratic societies. For vital assistance with this event we were indebted, not only to musical artist Shana Farr of The Players, but to such Shop stalwarts as authors Nancy Reardon and Tom Flynn. We now know from a January 8th article in the Times that even more credit is due to Lin-Manuel Miranda and his Hamliton colleagues, who've purchased the Shop and will reopen it a few months hence in a new location.

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, and the Woman's National Democratic Club in Washington, click here.


During the last two summers the Guild has co-produced SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN, collaborating with the Santa Fe Botanical Garden and Shakespeare in Santa Fe on presentations of The Tempest in 2017 and A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2018. We're now teaming up with a new artistic partner, Santa Fe Classic Theater, for a Romeo and Juliet that will be directed by Patrick Briggs and presented in the Garden's beautiful amphitheater in June. Details will be forthcoming shortly, but in the interim we'll welcome support from Bardtenders who'd like to be involved in another season of theatrical enchantment.

Meanwhile we're relishing our 2018 season of SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN. For details about a Dream show that was warmly welcomed, click here. And for background on the presentation, see Jennifer Levin's article about "The Ecology of Shakespeare" in the August 17th issue of Pasatiempo. You might 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 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's still electrifying audiences 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 received, and those who produced it are eager to revive it in other settings.

As we savor the highlights of our 2018 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, we're also relishing an SFBG rendering of The Tempest that we presented 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 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 that a Spanish army was seeking to establish its "brave new world" in a terrain which had long been occupied by earlier settlers, this rendering of a classic score proved especially engaging for residents of the American Southwest.

For an overview 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.


We're delighted to report that the recipient of our 2018 Gielgud trophy, presented at a UK Theatre Awards luncheon on October 14 in London's venerable 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 gripping moviegoers around the globe.

Bestowing this year's award was Sir Ian McKellen, our 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 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 what Justice Anthony Kennedy had said 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 presented this year's award, Sir Ian recalled how much Gielgud 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.

Among the numerous media accounts of the festivities were stories in BBC News, BT.com, Irish News, and York Press. Click here for some visual highlights of what turned out to be a deeply moving occasion. And click here for background on the Award.


On Saturday, November 11, 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 resonant script that John assembled for the proceedings, click here.


A few months aqo, as his loved ones and admirers were eulogizing John McCain, a statesman who died on August 25, 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 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.


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 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.