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 new features, among them series of AFTERNOON SALONS. A few months ago in Santa Fe we supported a 2019 sequel to the SHAKESPEARE IN THE GARDEN presentations that charmed high-desert audiences in 2017 and 2018. And in London we recently celebrated the 25th anniversaries of two GIELGUD milestones.

For information about current offerings, as well as for background on recent events -- many 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, the Gielgud Theatre, 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 wish to support our educational and cultural endeavors by registering for one or more 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 provide will be warmly received, and your generosity will be promptly acknowledged.

ANOTHER ENGAGING SEASON OF SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE PROGRAMS IN NEW YORK

We're savoring a wide-ranging conversation that occurred at The Players (16 Gramercy Park South) on Monday, November 18, with Washington Post drama critic Peter Marks. Mr. Marks has been augmenting his usual theater reviews with a series of performance-oriented perspectives on the campaigns of today's leading candidates for the 2020 presidential election, and in addition to his engaging reflections on a wide range of other topics he treated us to incisive comments about such political figures as Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren.

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 Adam's new book, A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism, a brilliant analysis of contemporary politics that David Brooks had commended in an eloquent column for the New York Times. But as usual 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 now experiencing.

Our next event, at 6 p.m. on Friday, January 24, at the National Arts Club (15 Gramercy Park South in Manhattan), will focus on
Jim Dale, a celebrated performer who garnered an Oscar nomination as composer of the theme song for "Georgy Girl," who won a Tony Award for his title role in "Barnum," and who holds multiple Grammy Awards for his recordings of "Harry Potter." This will be our third program with Mr. Dale, and we look forward to it with great anticipation.

Details will be provided soon about additional offerings, among them an April 22 Players conversation about Shakespeare in a Divided America with Columbia University's James Shapiro and a Shakespeare-focused concert by musical artist Shana Farr on Friday evening, June 19, at the NAC.

Meanwhile, we cherish the spring events that concluded our 2018-19 season. One was a special afternoon salon with
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 a few nights earlier at the legendary Carlyle Hotel.

We're also savoring two mid-May events in a SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE series that is now in its third decade. One was a memorable conversation with F. Murray Abraham, who joined us for an 8 p.m. National Arts Club gathering 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 has 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 a roomful of admirers enjoyed another special evening with one of today's most charismatic performers. The next afternoon, Tuesday, May 14, we returned to the club's welcoming parlor for a spirited 2 p.m. 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
here.

THE GUILD'S 2019 GIELGUD AWARD CEREMONY IN LONDON

Our most recent Gielgud Award, presented on Monday, October 19, 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 year's presentation occurred, not as usual in London's venerable Guildhall on Sunday, October 27, but at the beautiful Gielgud Theatre on Monday, October 28. As you'll see if you click on a brief overview about the gathering, it turned out to be a truly memorable occasion.

Fifteen years ago, on April 19, 2004, the Guild joined the RSC and RADA in that resonant setting for a remarkable Gielgud Centenary Gala. This October's 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 exemplary accomplishments, 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 role 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 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 was 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 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 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.

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.

GARDEN-FRESH SHAKESPEARE IN SANTA FE

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. This summer 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 the August 17th issue of Pasatiempo and listen to radio 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. You might also 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 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.

WINCHESTER'S COMMEMORATION OF "THE GREAT WAR"

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.

RECALLING A MEMORABLE ADDRESS BY JOHN McCAIN

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 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 FAREWELL SALUTE TO EDUCATOR HOMER SWANDER

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.

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

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.

A 2017 CONCERT AT HISTORIC SAN MIGUEL CHAPEL

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.