To honor the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s 1616 death, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. and the American Library Association are organizing a traveling exhibition, “Shakespeare and His First Folio,” that will visit each state of the United States, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, for a month at a time. And the New Jersey stop will be at Drew University in Madison, the home of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, in the fall of 2016 (likely beginning in October and going into November).
The exhibition will include a copy of the First Folio, published in 1623. This is the earliest published collection of Shakespeare plays; 233 copies are known to have survived, and only about 40 are complete. Some copies have been auctioned for millions of dollars.
The copy to be displayed at Drew will be opened to the start of the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy in “Hamlet.”
The exhibition will be housed at the Wendel Room in Mead Hall. A series of performances, seminars and lectures will be presented in conjunction with it, including a performance of “Hamlet” in Drew’s Kean Theatre by the university’s Department of Theatre and Dance.
A companion exhibit will feature rare books from the same time as the First Folio.
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will co-host the exhibition. In a press release, Bonnie J. Monte, the theater’s artistic director, described this as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and also said: “In tandem with and in celebration of the Folio’s month-long residency, The Shakespeare Theatre will produce one of Shakespeare’s greatest masterpieces on our Main Stage, which will include numerous student matinee performances featuring tours of the Folio exhibit and post-show discussions with our company of artists.”
The exact dates that the exhibition will be at Drew and the play that the Shakespeare Theatre will produce in conjunction with it will be announced at a later date.
JAN. 4 UPDATE: The dates will be Oct. 3-31.