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The Folger Spotlight

ENCORES: ‘The Bard and The Duke’ Lecture by Maurice Jackson (2017)

Folger ENCORES, red theater seats fading into darkness
Folger ENCORES, red theater seats fading into darkness

Folger Public Programs is pleased to present ENCORES, a weekly online series highlighting past performances and recalling the rich history of programming on the historic Folger stage. As many arts and cultural institutions remain closed during this time, these ENCORES provide a way to connect and revisit the breadth of Folger offerings with a wider audience.

ENCORES presents

Free Folger Friday
‘The Bard and The Duke’
Delivered by Maurice Jackson on June 9, 2017
Read about this event on Folgerpedia

Listen to the full lecture here.

Lecturer:  Professor Maurice Jackson, Ph.D., teaches history, African American Studies, and Jazz at Georgetown University. Among the former longshoreman and community organizer’s many accomplishments are Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism (2009, author), African-Americans and the Haitian Revolution (2010, co-editor), and Quakers and Their Allies in the Abolitionist Cause, 1754-1808 (2015, co-editor). Halfway to Freedom: African Americans and the Struggle for Social Progress in Washington, D.C. is in the works. Professor Jackson has also published numerous articles, including, in the journal Washington History, “Washington, D.C.: From the Founding of a Slaveholding Capital to a Center of Abolitionism” (2013) and “Great Black Music and the Desegregation of Washington, D.C.,” the latter for a special issue on Jazz in D.C. for which he served as co-editor (2014). Professor Jackson was a 2009 inductee into the Washington, D.C. Hall of Fame, and Mayor Vincent Gray appointed him as the first chair of the D.C. Commission on African American Affairs in 2013.

Read the introduction by the Production Manager and Technical Director for the Folger, Charles Flye:

Hello and welcome to Folger ENCORES. I’m Charles Flye, the Production Manager and Technical Director here at the Folger. I’m happy to be able to speak with you.

The Folger has been sharing selections from their plays, music and talks and readings with you in this ENCORES series. This week we’re visiting a conversation with Dr. Maurice Jackson entitled The Bard and The Duke, where Dr. Jackson talks about DC’s own Duke Ellington and his compositions around Shakespeare plays.

Duke Ellington created a milestone work between jazz and Shakespeare with his 12-piece suite called Such Sweet Thunder, which was composed after Ellington did a series of concerts for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. In this conversation that you’re going to hear about Ellington, Dr. Jackson talks about those performances and plays for us some of the incidental music that Ellington wrote for production of Timon of Athens at the Stratford Festival.

In my work at the Folger I’m responsible for working with the designers and artists around the physical aspects of performances; from the sets for Folger Theatre productions to the way the Consort sounds in the theater. I grew up playing music here in DC and Duke was always an inspiration. I crossed the Duke Ellington Bridge every day on my way to school. I played much of his music, in big bands and as small as a quartet. What always struck me about his genius was his ability to write music for any size or place. You can play his music with twenty or with two. His generational wisdom and vision is always clear, no matter the arrangement. This makes it unsurprising to me that he was able to write and arrange for the Bard.

Dr. Jackson’s acute and bold insight in this discussion brought me much joy in reflection. I hope you’ll enjoy it too. Please be sure to join us again for these weekly episodes of ENCORES, highlighting all the Folger has to offer. Thank you.


Encores LogoCheck back each Friday for a new “from the archives” performance, introduced by some of our favorite artists, showcasing the best of Folger TheatreFolger ConsortO.B. Hardison Poetry, and lectures.