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The Folger Spotlight

Gravedigger's Tale On The Road in South Carolina

Actor Louis Butelli is traveling the world in Gravedigger’s Tale as part of the First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare tour. Read an update from his travels below!

Hello, friends! Many thanks, as always, for following along as Folger Theatre’s “Gravedigger’s Tale” traverses the nation, chasing the Folger Shakespeare Library’s exhibition, “First Folio: The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare.” If you’re inclined towards the internet and social media, have a little look around: this year is the 400th anniversary of Will Shakespeare’s death, and the celebrations are worldwide. Locate them (and tag them!) via #shx400

In the meantime, our Gravedigger spent April 23, Shakespeare’s birth AND death day, as far as we can tell, performing at the historic Longstreet Theatre, on campus at University of South Carolina in the fair city of Columbia.

This was notable for several reasons, first of which is that USC is currently home-base for our show’s director, Robert Richmond. My dear friend and closest collaborator for twenty years, Robert is currently the Assistant Chair, Co-Artistic Director and Professor of Theater at the University, and was the mastermind behind a brilliant weekend of performance and celebration of the Bard.

Through the course of our week in Columbia, we presented an afternoon of “Jukebox Shakespeare” on the University commons, attended the opening of the Library’s Folio exhibition, and performed “Gravedigger’s Tale” to three fabulous audiences along with several musical interludes and Q&A sessions.

"Gravedigger" Director Robert Richmond.

“Gravedigger” Director Robert Richmond.

We were honored by the presence of University of South Carolina’s President and First Lady, Harris and Patricia Pastides, in our audience…and were further honored to receive the USC President’s Medal of Honor at a reception afterwards. Dr. Pastides, his renowned humor well known, pointed out that the actual object – a sculptural representation of the school’s mascot, the “gamecock” – is primarily a “golden chicken.” Shakespeare would have approved.

Even more than that, if you can believe it, I had the good fortune to meet an incredibly special boy. Let me explain: our show is interactive. At every performance, I pull two members of the audience onto the stage with me, a female to play Ophelia, and a male to play Hamlet’s father. During one of our USC performances, I spotted a very rapt and interested 8 year old boy in the crowd. I couldn’t help it: he HAD to be Hamlet’s father. To see a photo sequence of events, may I encourage you to visit my own blog?

In the meantime, Gravedigging continues apace. Our next engagement is in Honolulu, Hawaii. Rest assured: plenty of pictures and anecdotes to come.

Thank you for reading, and please note that all photos are courtesy of the amazing Jason Ayer.

See you soon!