UM to be Exclusive Montana Host Site of Shakespeare’s First Folio

April 14, 2016

Title page with Droeshout engraving of Shakespeare. Shakespeare First Folio, 1623. Folger Shakespeare Library.

MISSOULA – As good luck would have it – words penned by William Shakespeare – a rare opportunity to see the actual book that contains the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays is coming to Missoula.

The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library and Montana Museum of Art & Culture will present “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on National Tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library” at the University of Montana Monday, May 9, through Tuesday, May 31.

The Folger Shakespeare Library, in association with the Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring the exhibition to all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico in 2016. UM was selected as the only location in Montana to feature the exhibit. The First Folio will be displayed at the Montana Museum of Art & Culture, which will offer free admission and extended hours for the exhibit.

The First Folio is the first complete collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623, seven years after his death. Compiled by two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors, it preserves 36 of Shakespeare’s plays. Without it, we would not have 18 previously unpublished masterpieces, including “Macbeth,” “Julius Caesar,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Tempest” and “Antony and Cleopatra.”

Why go see it?

“It isn’t every day we get to see a 400-year-old book,” Missoula resident and world-renowned English Renaissance literature expert Linda Woodbridge said. “The First Folio shows a desire to give play scripts permanence, to make them available for people to read, as well as to see performed, and to preserve them for future generations. And this edition of all the plays of one author shows respect for that author – a writer not dismissed as one who churned out popular entertainments, but honored with a big portrait in the front of the book, and with poems of praise by people who knew and respected him, and thought that plays mattered.”

According to Woodbridge, it’s also a great opportunity to see what print technology looked like in the first century after print was invented.

“In an age when printing methods were labor-intensive, and printing and binding were very expensive, to publish a big book of plays, by one author, made a real statement,” she said. “This elaborately printed collection shows respect.”

Many people experience only a few of Shakespeare’s plays by studying them in school or by seeing them performed. The exhibition will show visitors a wider scope of his work.

“It’s good to be reminded that [Shakespeare] wrote some 37 long plays – tragedies, comedies, history plays,” Woodbridge said. “He’s great partly because of the sheer magnitude of his achievement, and the First Folio makes that tangible.”

In conjunction with the exhibit, UM and the Missoula community will host a slate of events to celebrate all things Shakespeare. The schedule of related events follows:

  • Exhibit opening reception: 5-7 p.m. Monday, May 9. MMAC will host an opening reception in conjunction with the official launch of the exhibition. UM Performing Arts and Radio/Television Center Meloy and Paxson Galleries and lobby. The reception, which is free and open to the public, will feature Dolce Canto performing Elizabethan-era music.
  • Shakespeare at the Movies: 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 9. Missoula’s Community Cinema The Roxy will present Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 production of “HAMLET.” The Roxy Theater is located at 718 S. Higgins Ave. Tickets cost $5 for youth, $7 for students and seniors and $8 for adults. They can be purchased in advance online at http://www.theroxytheater.org/.  
  • Shakespeare for Students!: 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday through Thursday, May 10-12. Missoula County School District seventh grade students will ride buses to UM to see a “Romeo and Juliet” fight scene performed by UM School of Theatre & Dance students. Following the performance, students will break up into small groups to engage in short entertainment sessions with members of the Missoula Children’s Theatre and the School of Theatre & Dance. This event is sponsored by SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning and Humanities Montana. UM PAR/TV building.
  • Free day at the Children’s Museum Missoula: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, May 12.  Children will receive free admission to the museum and are encouraged to stop into the Culture Room, which will be decked out as Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Related crafts and activities will take place throughout the day. Special programs include:
    • 11-11:30 a.m.: Words, Words, Words: practice using action words, feeling words and compliments.
    • 1-1:30 p.m.: Create a Story: A little twist on Mad Libs, making stories is sure to make some laughs.
    • 3:30-4 p.m.: BASEment Improv: Local comedians will teach improv and acting.
    • The Children’s Museum Missoula is located at 225 W. Front St. This event is free and open to the public. Visit https://www.childrensmuseummissoula.org/ for more information.
  • Shakespeare at the Movies: 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 16. Missoula’s Community Cinema The Roxy will present Baz Lurman’s production of “Romeo + Juliet.” The Roxy Theater is located at 718 S. Higgins Ave. Tickets cost $5 for youth, $7 for students and seniors and $8 for adults. They can be purchased in advance online at http://www.theroxytheater.org/
  • Lecture: “The First Folio: What it Meant, What it Means” presented by Woodbridge: 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19. This lecture will focus on the importance of the Folio for the preservation of Shakespeare’s works and what printed plays meant to Shakespeare’s fans in his own time. UM PAR/TV Center Montana Theatre. Free and open to the public.
  • Student Players from Across Montana Perform Shakespeare: Time TBA. Friday, May 20. The Montana Association of Teachers of English Language Arts invites student drama classes and clubs from across the state to perform scenes from Shakespeare. A Q-and-A, which will be facilitated by UM English Professor Beverly Chin, will follow the performances. UM Mansfield Library East Faculty Office Area. Free and open to the public. For more information, or to have your students participate, email Chin at beverly.chin@umontana.edu.
  • Workshop: Best Practices for Teaching Shakespeare: 9 a.m.-1p.m. Saturday, May 21. Chin and the Montana Association of Teachers of English Language Arts will host a workshop for teachers on best practices for bringing Shakespeare into the classroom. Third floor of the University Center. Free and open to the public. For more information email Chin at beverly.chin@umontana.edu.
  • Writing Workshop for Youth: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, May 21. The Missoula Writing Collaborative invites western Montana youth to attend the free workshop, which will use the Folio as a creative launch. Space is limited to 25 participants ages 9-12. Email missoulawriting@gmail.com to register. PAR/TV Center Meloy and Paxson Galleries.
  • Writing Workshop for Teens: Noon-2 p.m. Saturday, May 21. The Missoula Writing Collaborative invites western Montana youth to attend the free workshop, which will use the Folio as a creative launch. Space is limited to 25 participants ages 12-16. Email missoulawriting@gmail.com to register. PAR/TV Center Meloy and Paxson Galleries.
  • Shakespeare at the Movies: 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 23. Missoula’s Community Cinema The Roxy will present Joss Whedon’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” The Roxy Theater is located at 718 S. Higgins Ave. Tickets cost $5 for youth, $7 for students and seniors and $8 for adults. They can be purchased in advance online at http://www.theroxytheater.org/.  
  • Special MOLLI session on the First Folio: 3 p.m., Wednesday, May 25. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UM – known as MOLLI – will host a special session for lifelong learners age 50 or older. The panel will feature Woodbridge, UM English Professor Ashby Kinch and conservation professional and owner of The Vespiary Book Restoration and Bindery Audra Loyal. This is a MOLLI special member event, MOLLI members can register by calling 406-243-2905 or by emailing molli@umontana.edu.
  • Group Book Discussion of “The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio” by Andrea Mays: 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 25. Fact & Fiction will host a book group discussion. Fact & Fiction is located at 220 N. Higgins Ave. This event is free and open to the public.
  • Lecture: “Shakespeare, Jonson and Literary Immortality” presented by UM English Professor John Hunt: 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26. Hunt will use the Folio to illustrate status and practices of writers in early modern England, attitudes toward literary immortality found in Shakespeare’s and Ben Jonson’s works, and the ongoing cultural project of identifying Shakespeare as the greatest of English writers and remaking him in the image of later times. PAR/TV Center Montana Theatre. Free and open to the public.
  • Shakespeare’s Sky at spectrUM Discovery Area: Throughout May. Explore with spectrUM’s Discovery Area as it journeys back in time to the features of the night sky that inspired Shakespeare’s works. SpectrUM will offer hands-on opportunities to compare the tools we use today to Galileo’s first use of the telescope to unlock the secrets of the sky. Science-based, hands-on activities will be featured during the month of May that highlight and celebrate the brilliance of the First Folio’s night sky. For an updated list of events, free admission days and field trip options visit http://spectrum.umt.edu/.

In addition to the slate of events held in conjunction with the exhibition, the UM School of Theatre & Dance will perform “Romeo and Juliet” Wednesday through Saturday, April 27-30, and Tuesday through Saturday, May 3-7, in UM’s PAR/TV Center Montana Theatre. Tickets for the performances can be purchased online at http://www.umt.edu/griztix/.

In advance of the exhibition, We Are Montana in the Classroom will offer a free distance-learning festival Monday-Wednesday, April 25-27, that will allow high school students across the state the chance to experience Shakespeare’s plays and the Elizabethan world through an array of academic lenses, including physics and astronomy, counselor education, history, theater, neuroscience and French. For detailed information on sessions and to register classes visit http://www.umt.edu/big/we-are-MT/First%20Folio.php.  

The Missoula Writing Collaborative and Inspired Classroom will host two hourlong virtual writing experience for fifth- through eighth-grade students using words from the Folio. This event will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 3, and Thursday, May 5. For more information and to register, visit http://us10.campaign-archive1.com/?u=db027c253797e2418f8b76aea&id=3ed1eb7d4f&e=[UNIQID].

“We are thrilled to host the Folio on campus in May,” said Julie Biando Edwards, an associate professor at the Mansfield Library. “I’m most pleased about the many, many campus and community partnerships we’ve formed over the past two years, as we prepared for the exhibit. This is a true campus/community partnership celebrating the arts and humanities. Our partners are helping us reach people across Montana in innovative and exciting ways.”

Campus and community partners and sponsors include Montana Public Radio, Missoula Children’s Theatre, Children’s Museum Missoula,  Montana Association of Teachers of English Language Arts, Missoula Writing Collaborative, Humanities Montana, UM School of Theatre & Dance, the offices of the President and Integrated Communications at UM, Destination Missoula, the Missoula Tourism Business Improvement District, The Roxy Theater, spectrUM Discovery Area, SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning, Inspired Classroom, We Are Montana in the Classroom, the University Center, the President’s Lecture Series and the Missoulian.

Museum hours, a current schedule of the events surrounding the exhibition and information about the Folio is available online at: http://www.lib.umt.edu/folio/

 “We are extremely excited to partner with the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library and so many fine organizations to celebrate the extraordinary contributions Shakespeare made to mankind,” said Barbara Koostra, MMAC director. “The exhibition promises exceptional cultural opportunities for our region.”

The tour is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and by the support of Google.org, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, the British Council and other generous donors.

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Contact: Julie Biando Edwards, associate professor, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, 406-243-4505, julie.edwards@umontana.edu; Barbara Koostra, director, Montana Museum of Art & Culture, 406-243-2019, barbara.koostra@mso.umt.edu.