Posts By: Esther French

Orson Welles and the Voodoo ‘Macbeth’ that launched his directing career

Can you feel the feverish excitement in the air? This photograph from April 14, 1936, shows the crowded streets outside the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem on opening night for the Federal Theatre Project’s Macbeth, directed by a young Orson Welles. (He was only 20 years old!) The Federal Theatre Project’s Negro Unit was a New Deal program under the… Continue Reading »


Creating Shakespeare’s First Folio

Imagine a world without Macbeth, Twelfth Night, or Julius Caesar. We likely wouldn’t have half of Shakespeare’s plays without the First Folio. Who was responsible for making this book, the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays in 1623? And how exactly was it put together? On this episode of Shakespeare Unlimited, we hear from Emma Smith,… Continue Reading »



Shakespeare’s birthday party

William Shakespeare entered and exited the world on the same date: April 23. This past weekend, the Folger Shakespeare Library commemorated the 400th anniversary of his death (1616-2016), but we also threw him a big birthday party as we do every year. It’s a beloved annual tradition at the Folger, in part because it also marks our… Continue Reading »


Celebrating Shakespeare at 400

The Wonder of Will Live Watch the live broadcast of The Wonder of Will Live on Saturday, April 23, at noon EDT, on C-SPAN2’s Book TV or streaming online. Hear Shakespeare stories from Kal Penn, Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, NASA’s chief scientist, and other featured guests. The live event, held in the beautiful… Continue Reading »


How ‘The New York Times’ commemorated the Shakespeare tercentenary in 1916

2016 marks 400 years after William Shakespeare’s death, and the world is celebrating the quatercentenary with Shakespeare performances, festivals, and fireworks. One hundred years ago, what was said about the Shakespeare tercentenary in the United States? We see one of these windows on the past in The New York Times, which ran a special Shakespeare commemorative series… Continue Reading »