The First Folio: How We Almost Lost “Macbeth”

first folio

The First Folio of Shakespeare is a unique literary treasure.  Collected, edited, and published in 1623 by Shakespeare’s close friends and fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell, the nearly 1,000-page book collects 36 of the Bard’s plays – 18 of which had never before appeared in print.  Without the First Folio, Shakespearean masterpieces such as Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, and Taming of the Shrew would have been lost forever.  On Sunday, February 14th at 3 pm, Helen Page – Professor Emerita of English at Oakton Community College – and Joseph Page – actor with the Muse of Fire Theater Company – will visit EPL to explore this great book’s fascinating history as part of #DiscoverWill: Illinois Libraries Celebrate Shakespeare’s First Folio.  In anticipation of their lecture “The First Folio: How We Almost Lost Macbeth,” we recently spoke with the Pages via email about the technical definition of a “folio,” Shakespeare’s creative process, the literary significance of the 1623 First Folio, and the “Anti-Shakespeare” movement.

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Actress and Activist Ruby Dee, 1922-2014

deeobitActress Ruby Dee died Wednesday at her home in New Rochell, NY at the age of 91. A passionate and versatile performer, she received accolades for her role in the 1970 Athol Fugard drama Boesman and Lena, and her role as Ruth Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark drama A Raisin in the Sun. She went on to reprise that role in the 1961 film version with one reviewer noting: “Is there a better young actress in America, or one who can make everything she does so effortless?” Her film career included roles in the films of Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever) as well as for a supporting role in the 2007 film American Gangster, for which she won an Oscar nomination. A lifelong civil rights activist, along with her husband Ossie Davis, Ms. Dee “lent her voice and presence to the cause of racial equality outside show business.” In With Ossie and Ruby, she wrote” The largest piece of unfinished business before humankind is, in our opinion, poverty, spiritual as well as material, racism, yes, and sexism, too; Struggle is all there is, and we are still committed.” Read more about this legendary actress in today’s NYTimes and NPR tributes.  And check the EPL catalog for more of her works.


Mantel’s Books Go From Page to Stage to Screen

05WOLFHALL-articleLargeHilary Mantel’s Booker Prize winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies are being adapted for the stage by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Adapting the 500 page books into two-and-a-half-hour plays has been challenging but the producers are determined to retain as much of Ms. Mantel’s prose as possible, as well as to prove that “theater can bring the books to memorable life.” The plays are in preview now, although most seats are already sold out. The BBC is also planning to film a mini-series of the novels this year. Read more about the production in this NYT article.


Talking “Compulsion” with the Next Theatre Company

compulsionEvanston’s very own Next Theatre Company isn’t afraid to challenge its audience.  For nearly 35 years the company has remained committed to producing “socially provocative, artistically adventurous work,” and this season’s staging of Rinne Groff’s Compulsion stays true to that mission.  Based on the true story of Meyer Levin and his obsession with Anne Frank’s diary, the complex tale explores the fictional Sid Silver’s passionate fixation on Anne’s story as he attempts to honor her legacy.  You can catch Compulsion through November 17th at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, and EPL cardholders can purchase 2-for-1 tickets using the promotional code FRANK.  We recently spoke via email with Next’s artistic director Jenny Avery about Compulsion’s critical reception, the history behind the play, puppetry, and the company’s future plans.

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John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill” Broadway Bound

06GRISHAM1-articleLargeJohn Grisham’s 1989 legal thriller A Time to Kill, which was made into a film starring Matthew McConaughey, is being adapted for the stage by Rupert Holmes and directed by Ethan McSweeny. The play, revolving around a young white Mississippi lawyer defending a black man for revenge murder, will open on Broadway October 20, two days before Sycamore Row, Grisham’s sequel to A Time to Kill is due out. Read more in this NYT article and check out the EPL catalog for other books by this best-selling novelist.