Party with the Bard

Fans of literature and theatre, rejoice: on June 6, the downtown branch of the Kansas City Public Library will be host to one of the rare and prized original copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio – the first collection of William Shakespeare’s works, printed in 1623.

This event is one the centerpiece of many international events in 2016, observing the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Courtesy of the world-famous Folger Library, one of the existing 233 original printings of the First Folio is to be exhibited in each of the 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.

The First Folio is comprised of 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, 18 of which we wouldn’t even know existed had the Folio not been compiled – plays such as Macbeth, As You Like It, Julius Caesar and The Tempest would be erased from the cultural consciousness had they not made it in. However, when the Folio arrives in Kansas City, it will be open to what is possibly the most quoted line in Shakespeare: “To be, or not to be” from Hamlet’s famous soliloquy in Hamlet.

In addition to the massive Folio, the Kansas City Public Library states that there will be a “multi-panel exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional digital content and interactive activities.” If that sounds boring to you, you’re mistaken (and we also can’t be friends anymore). Events celebrating the Bard will include everything from talks about fairies and ghosts to dueling lessons to off-Broadway hip-hop adaptations, and much more.

So – to see or not to see? When it comes to one of the most prestigious historical documents in history, there’s no question.

First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare will be on display at the Central branch of the Kansas City Public Library from June 6-28. However, the Shakespeare celebration has already begun. Visit firstfoliokc.org for a schedule of events and more information.

1 Comment

  1. Jennifer Frangos

    May 5, 2016 at 2:08 PM

    Hello Tory and thanks for this great story. I wanted to let you know that there is a team of UMKC students who have been studying all semester to work as docents at this exhibit — so when UMKC people go to the exhibit, they will be seeing familiar faces working there.
    Might be worth a follow-up story? Contact me, Dr. Dean, or Dr. Ellinghausen…

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