Get thee to the Grounds for Shakespeare’s sake and scurry over to the University of Virginia’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, you scullion, er, you sweet! For most of October, a rare copy of the first book publishing William Shakespeare’s plays will be on display, prompting all sorts of dramatic and dubious deeds.
The collection of plays – one of the most famous books in the world – will be on view in the commonwealth only at UVA, as part of a national traveling exhibition, “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.” The Special Collections Library is also displaying an accompanying exhibition of its own notable holdings, “Shakespeare By the Book.”
Family Day on Oct. 8 will feature several Shakespeare-era events and interactive demonstrations for all ages, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., outside in front of the library (or in the auditorium in case of rain), including:
- Listen for the Sonneteers: a troupe of UVA drama students will welcome patrons, strolling about, speaking in the Bard’s silver tongue.
- Learn to dole out Shakespearean insults and compliments – “You scullion! You rampallian! You fustilarian! I’ll tickle your catastrophe!” comes from “Henry IV Part 2,” while “Sweets to the sweet” comes from “Hamlet.”
- Would-be thespians can try one of the dynamic workshops devoted to appreciating Shakespeare’s wordplay (11:30 a.m.) or honing their own performance abilities (12:30 p.m.), directed by members of the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton.
- Step up to crafts tables, inside and outside, for making props such as fake blood or royal crowns, and to another where brave wordsmiths can try their hand at writing with a quill.
- Enter a raffle for tickets to the UVA Department of Drama’s performance of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” and to the American Shakespeare Center productions. Winners will be picked at 11:30 a.m., and 12:30 and 1:30 p.m.
- Budding drama enthusiasts – UVA students and younger ones – can attend “The Comedy of Errors” on Oct. 8 at the 2 p.m. or 8 p.m. performances for only $1 each when accompanied by an adult. (Other shows will be Sept. 29 and 30 at 8 p.m., Oct. 1 at 2 p.m., Oct. 6-8 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 8-9 at 2 p.m.)
Among the other activities planned to mark the First Folio’s visit:
- For those with a more serious interest, Andrew Wade, former Head of Voice at the Royal Shakespeare Company, will give a lecture/demonstration and Q&A from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 3 in the Ruth Caplin Theatre, free and open to the public.
- On Oct. 12 at 4 p.m., Virginia Mason Vaughan, professor emerita of Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, will give the Tracy and Katherine McGregor Distinguished Lecture in American History, “Shakespeare for the American People,” in the Special Collections auditorium.
- A group of undergraduate and graduate drama students, directed by associate professor Kate Burke, will present “Vigil for the Bard!” in the Small Library, performing lightly staged sonnets, monologues and the witches’ scene from “Macbeth” on Oct. 14 at 4 p.m.; Oct. 23 at 2 p.m.; and Oct. 25 at 6 p.m.
Events celebrating the visit of Shakespeare’s First Folio, on display Oct. 1 to 26, are a collaboration of the UVA Library, the English and drama departments and the American Shakespeare Center.
The Folger Shakespeare Library Association, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is taking the First Folio on tour to all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, in 2016, commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.