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Folger Shakespeare Library Announces 2024-25 Season, Bridging Exhibitions and Programming Under Theme Whose Democracy?

Press release: March 28, 2024 — Washington, DC

Renovated Building Creates Space for the Folger to Connect Experiences in Exhibition Halls with Historic Theater


The Folger Shakespeare Library today announced its 2024-2025 Season theme of Whose Democracy? As the Folger prepares to reopen after its $80.5 million renovation, it will be the first time a season theme is activated across all performances, programming, and exhibitions within the building. The two new exhibition halls added to the historic building will both provide more access to the Folger’s incredible collection of materials related to Shakespeare as well as tell stories that connect audiences to the big ideas surfaced in each season’s plays, concerts, readings, and other programming.

Kicking off in the fall of 2024, the Folger’s 2024-2025 season will present performances that challenge perceptions and ignite conversations about power and participation. In January 2025, an exhibition of objects from the Folger collection will explore how rulers showcase power and how dissidents critique it.

“It’s exciting to unveil years of planning and creative engagement bridging the collection, scholarship, and performance aspects of our work into a thematic framework we hope will immediately resonate and speak into our present political moment,” says Karen Ann Daniels, Folger’s Director of Programming and Performance and Artistic Director of Folger Theatre. “We are inviting visitors into a multi-modal experience that makes Folger such a unique and exciting place to belong.”

Folger Theatre’s 2024-2025 season will offer audiences the opportunity to reflect on how power is performed through the lens of some of Shakespeare’s most beloved stories and characters. The season emphasizes how examining political systems and the dynamics of class, gender and race can aid us in finding our own power in the most limiting of circumstances. The season opens in the fall with Shakespeare’s iconic romance Romeo and Juliet, directed by Raymond O. Caldwell (former Artistic Director of DC’s Theater Alliance). The third year of The Reading Room Festival, featuring new works and conversations inspired by or in response to the plays of Shakespeare, will take place in January 2025. Initially presented as a staged reading during Folger’s inaugural Reading Room Festival in January 2023, A Room in the Castle by Lauren Gunderson, one of the most produced contemporary playwrights (The Book of Will; I and You) begins performances in March 2025. Commissioned and co-produced with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, the production is directed by acclaimed intimacy choreographer Kaja Dunn (Harlem, Best Man: Final Chapter). The season concludes with Shakespeare’s music-filled, gender-bending comedy, Twelfth Night, in Spring 2025.

Within the newly created exhibition spaces, the Folger will invite visitors to delve into the intricacies of power with the temporary exhibition, Power Players, on display from February 1 through July 31, 2025. This exhibition will offer examples of how rulers have utilized rhetoric, pageantry, and stagecraft to project, showcase, critique, and undermine power from Shakespeare’s time to the present day.

Folger Consort, the early music ensemble-in-residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library, returns for its 47th season with four concerts which explore how popular and court music reflect political and historical landscapes. Led by Robert Eisenstein and Christopher Kendall and joined by renown guest artists, the Folger Consort will present music from Florence and Machiavelli’s time to the ballads created around the Gunpowder Plot. Each concert—including the Consort’s celebrated annual holiday concert— is preceded by an Early Music Seminar, where Robert Eisenstein shares historical and musical background information related to the upcoming performance.

The 56th season of the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series continues its long-standing tradition of welcoming the most incandescent names in poetry to the Folger. The 2024/25 season explores democracy through the medium of language, spoken word, and expression. Celebrating the power of poetry to illuminate, provoke, and inspire, the upcoming season includes a dynamic lineup of celebrated and emerging poets. The season features six readings, including its annual tribute to Emily Dickinson, the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, and readings featuring world renowned writers in an intimate setting. A complete schedule, including poets and dates, will be announced soon.

Subscriptions to seasons of theater, consort, and poetry are currently on sale and may be purchased at or by calling the Folger box office at 202.544.7077. Single tickets for all performances go on sale later this summer.

The Folger Shakespeare Library will fully reopen its historic landmark building to the public following a transformative four-year renovation project on June 21, 2024. More than 12,000 square feet of new public spaces will welcome visitors, including new exhibition halls (the Shakespeare Exhibition Hall shows all 82 of the Folger’s Shakespeare First Folios together for the first time), a learning lab, collaborative research spaces, and expansive new outdoor gardens and visitor amenities, including a gift shop and a new café, Quill & Crumb, in the reimagined Great Hall.

For more information about the Folger’s building renovation project and the June 21, 2024 reopening, visit

Folger Theatre’s 2024-25 Season:

Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Raymond O. Caldwell
October 1 – November 10, 2024

In a world where rival political families are at war, two young people find and fall in love. When all the systems meant to protect and guide them—familial, religious, and governmental—fail, can they find a way for their love and lives to survive despite the chaos around them?

The Reading Room Festival
Winter 2025
Dates: TBA

The third year of Folger Theatre’s commitment to new works includes public readings of world premiere plays by diverse voices and inspired by the works of Shakespeare. Separate conversations with scholars and artists will be hosted between readings, as well as moderated conversations with the playwrights, directors, dramaturgs, and audience members following each staged reading. Plays and participants to be announced later this year.

A Room in the Castle
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Kaja Dunn
March 4 – April 6, 2025
Commissioned and co-produced with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

How does a woman survive the court of Denmark? A Room in the Castle finds Ophelia, her handmaid, and Queen Gertrude on the other end of a wild prince’s antics and realizing just how dangerous life in this castle has become. A meditation on women helping women, what mothering a potential madman means, and what responsibility generations of feminists have to one another, A Room in the Castle rebrands the stories of the women of Shakespeare’s Hamlet into a drama with music and defiant hope for the future.

Twelfth Night
By William Shakespeare
May 13 – June 29, 2025

Viola washes up on the shore after losing her twin brother in a shipwreck. In disguise as her twin brother, she lands in the world of Duke Orsino. A playful interpretation of a beloved Shakespeare comedy that brings gender fluidity, mistaken identities, and what it means to move between worlds into a joyful discovery of love.

About Folger Shakespeare Library:

The Folger Shakespeare Library makes Shakespeare’s stories and the world in which he lived accessible. Anchored by the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is a place where curiosity and creativity are embraced, and conversation is always encouraged. Visitors to the Folger can choose how they want to experience the arts and humanities, from interactive exhibitions to captivating performances, and from path-breaking research to transformative educational programming. The Folger welcomes everyone to connect in their own way—from communities throughout Washington, DC, to communities across the globe. Learn more at

About Folger Theatre:

The award-winning Folger Theatre in our nation’s capital bridges the arts and humanities through transformational performances and programming that speak inclusively to the human experience. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Karen Ann Daniels, Folger Theatre continues its legacy through exciting interpretations and adaptations of Shakespeare and expands the classical canon through cultivating today’s artists and commissioning new work that is in dialogue with the concerns and issues of our time. Folger Theatre thrives both on its historical stage and in the community, engaging audiences wherever they happen to be. For more on Folger Theatre, please visit

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