Folger Shakespeare Library Celebrates William Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday in April-Folger Shakespeare Library
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Folger Shakespeare Library Celebrates William Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday in April

Press Contacts:
Garland Scott
(202) 675-0342

Esther French

In honor of William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday this year, the Folger Shakespeare Library has packed April with celebratory events: a free, family-friendly party, a scholarly lecture about biographical questions surrounding the Bard, and a crowd-sourced exhibition.

Online, we’re celebrating Shakespeare with two very special birthday gifts: the release of all 38 of Shakespeare’s plays in free, mobile-friendly versions on Folger Digital Texts, and the launch of a new podcast series, Shakespeare Unlimited.

Don’t miss the Folger’s Shakespeare Birthday celebrations, including:

Shakespeare’s Birthday Open House
The Folger will host its annual open house and birthday celebration on Sunday, April 6, from Noon-4pm. This free, family-friendly event throws open the doors of the Folger for jugglers and jesters, stage combat workshops, Elizabethan crafts, performances by local elementary and secondary school students, poetry readings by the student winners of this year’s sonnet contest, a scavenger hunt of the Folger’s current exhibition, and more fun activities.

Folger staff and scholars will be on hand to answer questions about Shakespeare, and docents will lead tours of the historic Reading Rooms, on the one day of the year when they are open to the public. Birthday cake will be served and mementos will be on sale at the Folger gift shop.

Shakespeare’s Birthday Lecture
The biography of Shakespeare is a paradox. Is he our greatest author precisely because we know so little about him, and his life remains a mystery? Coming to the Folger to deliver Shakespeare’s Birthday Lecture on this subject is Professor Brian Cummings, a 16th-century scholar and professor at the University of York.

The free lecture, “Shakespeare, Biography, and Anti-Biography,” will take place Thursday, April 3, at 7:30pm and kicks off the Folger Institute's NEH-funded collaborative research conference, Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography, April 3-5. Advance reservations online are recommended.

Fiasco Theater’s Two Gentlemen of Verona
Celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday by seeing his work performed in the Folger Elizabethan Theatre. New York’s inventive Fiasco Theater has established its reputation for bringing Shakespeare’s most whimsical and timeless tales to the stage using minimal set design and props. This dizzying romantic adventure is a comedy filled with bandits, mistaken identity, and also the “sourest-natured” dog Crab. On stage April 17–May 25.

Shakespeare in Action Workshop for Families
After the Folger’s big birthday bash for Shakespeare on April 6, families have yet another opportunity to celebrate the Bard’s 450th birthday with a Shakespeare in Action Workshop on April 19. Learn stage combat and celebrate with a performance on the Folger stage. Registration required.

The Folger’s annual gala will be held on the momentous occasion of William Shakespeare’s birthday, Wednesday, April 23, and coinciding with the Folger’s exhibition, Shakespeare’s the Thing, which highlights the Folger’s rich Shakespeare collection. This elegant fundraising event is attended each year by Washington’s social, business, government, and diplomatic leaders.

Entertainment and festivities in the Folger’s Elizabethan Theatre will be followed by a black-tie dinner in the library’s beautiful Reading Rooms. Tickets are $600.

Online, join us in celebrating Shakespeare with these two birthday gifts:

Folger Digital Texts
In honor of Shakespeare's 450th birthday, the Folger has released all 38 Shakespeare plays in a beautifully readable format online. Folger Digital Texts offer meticulously edited, accurate texts that are freely available to download. The built-in reader has extensive search options, including the ability to search multiple texts for a phrase or word.

Learn more at

Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series
Shakespeare turns up in the most interesting places, including intersections between science and literature, social history and the stage. This "no limits" audio podcast tour – in honor of Shakespeare’s 450th – shares the fascinating and varied connections between Shakespeare, his works, and the world around us.

Learn more at

Visitors can learn more about the Folger and its celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday year at

Exhibitions, performances, lectures, family programs, and digital projects are planned through the end of 2014.

Press release issued on March 17, 2014.
Related Folger Events:
Shakespeare's Birthday Lecture 2014: Brian Cummings
Shakespeare, Biography, and Anti-Biography
Shakespeare's Birthday Open House   
Shakespeare in Action Workshop for Families: Birthday Celebration  
Folger Gala  
Shakespeare's the Thing   

Press may request images online.
For public and scholarly use, please contact the
Folger photography department.
Shakespeare's Birthday

Shakespeare's Birthday

Brian Cummings

Folger Gala

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