Speaking of Shakespeare Link

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In addition to its GIELGUD AWARD ceremonies and its SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE series, the Guild has long provided its constituents with a variety of other cultural activities. During the summer of 1992, for example, we joined hands with the GROVE SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL in California for a Great Shakes Alive initiative that included a Macbeth with David Birney and Joan Van Ark as the two protagonists. Two years later, during the spring of 1996, we contributed Bardic highlights to the inauguration of a DISNEY INSTITUTE in Florida. And over the decades that followed we arranged and co-spoonsored attractions such as the following.


in December of 1996, the Guild co-sponsored A Stellar Shakespearean Weekend, offering attendees a preview screening of Kenneth Branagh’s epic Hamlet, and collaborating with the SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION and the FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY on a symposium that featured a Susan Stamberg interview with the star and filmmaker (portions of which were later broadcast over NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO) and a discussion that included remarks by Sir Derek Jacobi and other luminaries. These festivities received front-page coverage in The Shakespeare Newsletter.


Since 1998, when it initiated SPEAKING OF SHAKESPEARE at the NATIONAL PRESS CLUB with director Peter Brook, the Guild has operated in close association with the ENGLISH-SPEAKING UNION and a number of other organizations. Attractions created under these auspices have been broadcast by the BBC, by NPR, and by C-SPAN’s weekend Book TV service. And they have taken place in such London settings as BAFTA'S PRINCESS ANNE AUDITORIUM, DARTMOUTH HOUSE, the GIELGUD THEATRE, the GUILDHALL, and MIDDLE TEMPLE HALL. They've also occurred at the BROAD STAGE in Santa Monica; at the CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER in the Windy City; at ARENA STAGE, the BRITISH EMBASSY, the COSMOS CLUB, DACOR BACON HOUSE, FORD'S THEATRE, the NATIONAL PRESS CLUB, the NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION, the SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY, the UNIVERSITY CLUB, the WASHINGTON CLUB, and the WOMAN'S NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CLUB in the District of Columbia; at the ENGLISH-SPEAKING UNION, THE LAMBS, the MORGAN LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, the NATIONAL ARTS CLUB, THE PLAYERS, the PRINCETON CLUB OF NEW YORK, and THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE in New York City, and the LENSIC PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, SAN MIGUEL MISSION, and at the SANTA FE BOTANICAL GARDEN in New Mexico's capital city. For details about these and a variety of related activities, see the ESU WASHINGTON announcements and newsletters for 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.


In 2011, four years after Mr. Andrews and his wife moved from DC to the Southwest, the Guild collaborated with Santa Fe's majestic LENSIC PERFORMING ARTS CENTER on a special presentation of The Tempest that starred Sir Derek as Prospero and his partner Richard Clifford as Prospero. This musical adaptation commemorated two significant anniversaries: a Whitehall presentation of Shakespeare's play in 1611 and the founding of a "brave New World" capital a few months earlier.

In 2012 The Guild joined forces with the NEW MEXICO MUSEUM OF ART in Santa Fe for a series of "Centennial Fridays" to commemorate a century of statehood for the Land of Enchantment.

In 2017 the Guild collaborated with musicologist Mary Springfels and her gifted colleagues on a 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.


As we reflect on the recent death of Sidney Poitier, a great actor and an inspiring leader, our thoughts return to the life and legacy of the gifted teacher, writer, and cultural ambassador who inspired one of Mr. Poitier's most memorable roles.

On Saturday, March 25, 2017, the Guild played a small role in a WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL memorial service for E. R. Braithwaite, the author who gave us To Sir, With Love, a 1959 literary best-seller that became a celebrated 1967 film with 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 now seems particularly resonant. 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 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 ACRORS 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.


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 an 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. In October of 2004, Mr. Andrews had attended a Westminster Abbey memorial service for Mr. Cooke, and had played a significant role in a preceding discussion of ways in which Mr. Cooke's many contributions to Anglo-American relations might best be commemorated. For an overview on the July 2005 festivities, click here. And for details about ESU Washington's role in the what turned out to be a special occasion, click here and scroll down to the second page. Also of interest might be a Guardian interview with Senator McCain that supplemented his remarks about "An American Patriot Today".


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.

Sadly, John died in October of 2022. Click here for the obituary that apppeared in The Guardian.


Like millions of others, among them such luminaries as Nina Totenberg, Linda Greenhouse, and F. Murray Abraham, we're commemorating the life and legacy of RUTH BADER GINSBURG, who died in September of 2020. Widely recognized for her love of opera, a devotion she shared with Justice Antonin Scalia (her friend and ideological opposite on the United States Supreme Court), "The Notorious RBG" was also dedicated to other forms of artistic expression, a point that drama critic Peter Marks emphasized in his eloquent tribute to her in the Washington Post. As Mr. Marks' charming observations made clear, it was completely in character for Justice Ginsburg to grace a May 2007 GIELGUD AWARD ceremony at the British Embassy and extol director Michael Kahn for all he'd done to establish the Shakespeare Theatre Company as one of the most vibrant cultural institutions in America's capital city. For details about that memorable occasion, scroll down to page 3 of the June 2007 bulletin of ESU Washington, and then proceed to the lead article in the Spring/Summer 2007 issue of Shakespeare Newsletter.


One of the most imaginative, and deeply generous, of the many responses to the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic was an extraordinary series of online presentations by actor, director, playwright, and teacher Dakin Matthews, who came up with enriching ways to use the time he had available while participating in productions such as director producer Aaron Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher's award-winning Broadway production of To Kill a Mockingbird. In July of 2023 Christopher Kuo of the New York Times alluded to that work and discussed the tutorial sessions that Dakin has been offering more recently to younger actors as a key member of the cast of a Lincoln Center Theater production of Camelot. For a transcript of that article, click here.

Not surprisingly, in association with Theatre for a New Audience, Dakin has recorded an extaordinary series of guides to the playwright's unique artistry, with extensive coverage of topics that would be of interest not only to theater professionals but to what the producers of Shakespeare's First Folio referred to as "The Great Variety of Readers." To view Dakin's introduction to this online resource, click here. And to sample the insights he brings to an extraordinary variety of topics, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

One of the most imaginative, and deeply generous, of the many responses to the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic was an extraordinary series of online presentations by actor, director, playwright, translator, and teacher Dakin Matthews, who came up with an enriching way to use the time he had available when his pivotal role as Judge Taylor in director producer Aaron Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher's award-winning Broadway production of To Kill a Mockingbird came to an end with the premature closing of that remarkable show. In association with Theatre for a New Audience Dakin recorded an extaordinary series of online guides to the playwright's unique artistry, with extensive coverage of topics that would be of interest not only to theater professionals but to what the editors of Shakespeare's First Folio referred to as "The Great Variety of Readers."

Here is Dakin's introduction to this extraordinary resource. And here are his remarks in SERIES ONE about Common Sense, The Mystery of Acting, Muse of Fire, Inventing Shakespeare, Special Providence, Interplay, Sonnet 104, Beatrice and Benedick, An Introduction to Rhetoric, The Prosodic Line, One Touch of Nature, The Art of Empathy, Sonnet 130, Champion and Challenger, Rhythym and Meter, The Shakespearean Beat, Rain It Raineth, Claudius, Sonnet 63, The Fallacy of the Line-End, Onomatopoeia, Sound Texturing, Regicide, The World, the Flesh, and the Devil, Lear's Love Test, Shakespeare on Suicide, The Lady Doth Protest, and Order and Degree.

In SERIES TWO Dakin offers insights into Shakespeare's Rules, Ambiguity, Psychology (1), Psychology (2), Psychology (3), Shakespeare's Astronomy, Sonnet 110, Blank Verse, The Poetic Voice, Problem Plays, The Hamlet Problem, Enter Servant, Thanks for Shakespeare, Wherefore Art Thou Therefore, Analyzing a Random Passage, Sonnet 59, Speech Structure, The Ring Speech, The Amazing Spondee, and Meta Shakespeare.

In SERIES THREE he proceeds to observations that focus primarily on FEMALE SPEECH, with an Introduction, followed by Female Speech 1, Female Speech 2, Female Speech 3 (The Churn), Female Speech 4 (Helena), Female Speech 5 (Helena 2), Female Speech 6 (Helena's change), Female Speech 7 (Helena and Diana), Female Speech 8 (The Ending), If Music Be the Food of Love, Nature's Above Art, Measure for Measure 1, Measure for Measure 2, Measure for Measure 3, Measure for Measure 4, Measure for Measure 5, Measure for Measure 6, Measure for Measure 7, Measure for Measure 8, Measure for Measure 9, Measure for Measure 10, and Loving and Loathing.

In SERIES FOUR he devotes 25 conversations to THE SONNETS. He commences with Introduction. He then proceeds to observations about Sonnet Structure, Sonnet Verse vs. Dramatic Verse, Story Behind Sonnets 1, Story Behind Sonnets 2, Sstory Behind Sonnets 3, Sstory Behind Sonnets 4, Story Behind Sonnets 5, Sonnet 9, Schemes and Sonnets, Speaking Sonnets Aloud, How Not to Speak a Sonnet, The Sonnet Voice, Sonnets and Speech Melodies, Sonnet 10, Part 1, Sonnet 10, Part 2, Sonnet 2, Part 1, Sonnet 2, Part 2, Sonnet 76, Part 1, Sonnet 76, Part 2, Seventy Iambs NYT, Part 1, Sonnet 18 NYT, Part 2, Sonnet 104, Sonnet 59, Sonnet 110.