More than 400 years have passed since William Shakespeare penned his last play. And yet his prose, plots, and characters are as alive today as they were in the late 16th and early 17th centuries – performed on stage in almost every language around the world, required reading for high school English students, and reimagined by filmmakers.
While Shakespeare wasn’t a composer, he made his love of music apparent. “How sweet sour music is,” he wrote for instance in Richard II, “(w)hen time is broke and no proportion kept.”
Kansas City’s Bach Aria Soloists and Heart of America Shakespeare Festival meld the Bard’s poetry and prose with baroque musical masterpieces, joining onstage for an evening of rich, emotional storytelling.
Hollywood has adapted, sampled, and stolen from William Shakespeare for more than a century – seeing his works as a source of prestige as soon as the commercial possibilities of narrative movies were apparent. The Ciné Shakespeare series features four of the best films featuring the Bard or his works in the past 20 years. Joan FitzPatrick Dean, the Curators Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, introduces the selections and leads a discussion after each Sunday afternoon screening.
Ralph Fiennes makes his directorial debut and casts himself in the lead role of Caius Martius, the banished Roman general who aligns with a sworn enemy (Gerard Butler) to take revenge on the city. Fiennes shot this brilliant adaptation in war-ravaged Serbia. This title is Rated R and is recommended for adult audiences only.
Learn and then apply the art of wooden-sword dueling in two interactive sessions offered by the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. Participants first are taught the basics of hand-to-hand combat and swordplay. In the second session, they modernize dialogue from Shakespeare’s plays and employ both that dialogue and their new sword fighting skills in enacting short scenes. Appropriate for teens.
The late 19th- and early 20th-century millionaire businessman Henry Clay Folger and his wife Emily spent a lifetime tracking down one of literature’s greatest treasures, the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays. Known as the First Folio, it was published seven years after the Bard’s death in 1616 and surviving copies are valued at upwards of $5-6 million today. Folger and his wife founded the Shakespeare Folger Library to house his volumes and other Shakespeare materials, and it now holds 82 of the 233 copies of the Folio known to still exist.
Take Shakespeare’s mistaken-identity farce, The Comedy of Errors. Give it a modern, hip-hop flavor. And you get The Bomb-itty of Errors, a unique, clever, often laugh-out-loud musical adaptation that debuted off-Broadway in 1999.
His comedies, histories, and tragedies have been performed worldwide for more than 400 years, but William Shakespeare’s personal life remains something of a mystery. In a special installment of the unique, Emmy Award-winning series Meet the Past, the famed playwright – as portrayed by Kansas City actor Mark Robbins – sits down with Library Director Crosby Kemper III for a probing, public conversation about his life and celebrated body of work.
There may be no better way to introduce younger audiences to Shakespeare than through a production of his enchanting comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Colorful and lively, it involves magic, fairies, mistaken identities, and plenty of action.
The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s four-part series of inside-the-play presentations focuses on its summer production of the mistaken-identity comedy Twelfth Night. Among the participants: HASF’s executive artistic director, Sidonie Garrett, who offers a director’s briefing and leads a discussion, and members of the HASF design team.
When librarians in a township in northern France began wondering late in 2014 whether their centuries-old book of Shakespeare’s works might be a rare copy of the First Folio, they put in a call one of the world’s greatest authorities on the subject. Eric Rasmussen traveled to St. Omer, examined the beat-up book, and made the verification.