tv 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeares Death Commemoration CSPAN April 24, 2016 1:00am-3:16am EDT
the copper plate that has been etched with a high quality print. which because that he isn't a coloring would show you this one this is europe summit is known well but you can see the cathedral the national borders at the time it was created. >> host: this is pretty accurate. >> is. the ways in which the
atlantic will take shape so our collection holds a large quantity of items that includes the moment as it comes to the united states so the colonies of jamestown. said shakespeare's world this planting itself in north america. that is complicated history also what was good and bad. >> when he wrote the tempest he clearly had a pamphlet about a shipwreck in bermuda but makes reference to the new world so he never visited but when he uses the
phrase like a brave new world that there is someplace to overturn our expectations and that is something that is on his imagination. >> and from the archives to the theater. >> this is a copy of a copy of the laurence olivier's film 1945 of henry v this gives us the notes it is interesting because that was treated during the second world war from one of the battle scenes this was viewed as a piece of propaganda of the second
world war so much of this is triumphant to the library of record store in the expression of shakespeare's work is something they're interested in collecting. even with a clean on translation of hamlet. it has been translated but the link wish to - - the inquest secreted hamlet did that and it is in the collection. one more item is so important it is my favorite item in the collection it is a modest copy you can see it is portable and what is important it is the copy that walt whitman kept in his pocket.
it was inexpensive and it was purchased to cover direct connection and the kind of poetry that they were creating in the 19th century it was one of the reasons why they're connecting an important reason why this is your washington. >> we appreciate you sharing this with us. now let's go to the theater. michael is this a public institution? what is your budget or your employees? >> we are a public institution the congressional record in fact,, i will tell you story. when mr. and mrs. walter wanted to create this library they bought the
property for this parcel across of the future supreme court in the jefferson building he learned in "the new york times" congress was about to take over the whole block with the purchase of another building he said i have a collection of shakespeare material that you could not afford to create. it is the best in the world and it is my intention to make a gift to the american people of this collection. so the library and went to the congress to say we need to exempt that part of the parcel so they can build this library in the congressional record it says the soldiers have created an institution dedicated to the public. and also says they're doing the work even though the library of congress can do at this point. we were born as an institution that serves the
nation about what is interesting is we don't have federal funding. the left and endowment that is managed by reimbursed college but we cannot charge tuition we're not federal so don't get federal funds. so we have to be self sustaining so half of the $19 million profit -- operating budget comes from the endowment and we raise them earth dash race rest of that self continuing philanthropy is important and gives us the ability to be a public institution. our building was created for one quarter of that. we really do have space needs how to keep his growing collection here and just to share it.
♪ >> hello welcome.ry, i am the director of the folger shakespeare library in today joining us on a very special day we are broadcasting year from the historic meeting room wherehe for the past 80 years scholars from around the globe use the largest shakespeare collection and though world a war welcome to all of you for joining us from c-span2 or the life feet our thanks to booktv
and cs bin to to make it possible for shakespeare fans everywhere to enjoy this special day with us. shakespeare's influence expands beyond the writtenuenc word if you're interested you can find it on itunes and havilahted looked that has been created apple partnered with the folger so we could collect shakespeare material for everyone hear we are to celebrate the world's great storyteller and a better waycy to pay tribute in o storiesth s and willing to bet everyone of us has the story to tell how they got to this amazing creature 400 years ago on
this very day april 23rd 1616 william shakespeare died the world is much larger and more connected today and what has happened. to to feel that he is still in the room and he is todayarou if we look around. how is it we have more to say about this writer? why is it when we talk about our lives we seem to be having a conversation with him? con one reason might be because he is unavoidable the most produced playwright in northpear america all over 70 percent encounter his work forht i playe not to mention half of secondary students on the
planet.et. there are more shakespearee films made in hollywood and united states and the u.k. combined in terms of filmmaking. the characters in therms phrases from his writings now appear in disney cartoons, a broadway musicals and hip-hop if you do a google search you will findd shakespeare on the banner. people from around the world are still having aft conversation with thisatio sudden lightning seems togl strike many times in one place are his dazzling use of language to find just
about every situation it is important all of these gifts can express the stories they teach us to empathize withstor those who are unlike us for better or worse. young love for the beginning of romeo and juliet sibling rivalry. the loss of family in hamlet or forgiveness self destruction with macbeth. standing up for what you"m believe in with king leer. experience to be treated as an outsider with zero
fellow. and shakespeare speaks to us in 2016 because we still struggle with politics and in the end we will struggle understand ourselves and each other. markets in social media will only teach just so much so to learn more we need the humanity. what better way to celebrate the 400th anniversary toe th talk about those that discovered this amazing reuter though it is time for their stories.azin in early 2009 president obama appointed the first presenter is associate
director of the white house office of publicinte impeachment however you may know him from the namesake. what you might not know he shared a very special connection to shakespeare from literally the first day he was born. pleaseal c join me. [applause] >> if there is something everyone knows about actors we are impulsive and irrational i am sure thereare is a turbot actors are crazy everys bu book report will point out we are quickckli to speak before we think i knew wanted to be an actor i love the power ofcaus storytelling
inseminate that would create characters and then inter world's i couldn't but shakespeare?ld with my grandfathers loved and thel li annoying english teacher i would think itis n isn't even english it is just over a golden nobody talks like that but ninth grade can around i noticed a small font on inside of the fifthnth- copy the he is born cv also on -- she died on my birthday we shaream birthday and a message was sent to my brain this was a sign not only was going to be an actor but a working actor because i celebrated a birthday with shakespeare he is respected ander h relevant.ea number two i was only 14 butil when we read romeo and
juliet we were allowed to watch in the classroom, you know, where this is going. [laughter] the film adaptation thatco featured nudity. how is this possible? who is this shakespeare who has allowed the teacher not sho to mention he was an incredible director but they concede the bathing suit area?d di so unconditionally i would be anetti actor and read shakespeare.ctor number three around this time unrelated i actually did read and start to understand then fall in love with shakespeare i started to understand and the beauty and the symbolism i grew up und in jersey in the '90s this is about the same as the local blues so then with the
dignity even the prologue ise, t rich so he taught me the first lessons to make the exception to the rule.in m in college i got a call from and tv news we're looking for drama students to watch film then be interviewed of course, . ended excited be even more and then to interpret the have the cameras rolling i opened up about my feelingset a and recalled the cars said english the mtvve t
special aired i gatheredund around and i segment gets closer where asking aspiring actors how did you feelace about shakespeare? close-up shot.ng i i am going to be so eloquent my big break. >> i mean it's not even english. [laughter] it cuts to somebody else. he taught me my first lesson in editing. several more years go by i am still struggling actor dissatisfied with typecasting and i hear a woman speak from the screen actors guild the only woman of color and said i decided hollywood as reasons for not casting me i would makes gu a hard for them to den
it had something to do with and it i would be classically trained so peach taught me that to make the gatekeepers and as uncomfortable as possible now here we are. i have been a working actor knock on wood and public-service and speaking at the 400th act birthday of shakespeare and i dare coincidencehehe so this little remaining matter in also died on hishis birthday we are impulsive any rational. the fact that sharing of birth statement there would be an actord on surely i cannot ignore i will also die on
the 23rd offact april. [laughter] to fight get through today and will continue to vouch for the ability he has for universality if i lose i will not be filled with melancholy. thank you. [applause] >> not today. happy birthday. we're off to a great start. our next presenter turned in of music and has empowered people from acrossin t the country to transform their curiosity into a full-fledged artistic careers as the 11th
chairman awarded nearly two with a $20 million of agency agreements please join me to welcome jane. [applause] >> lose there? those of the first two words in the tragedy of hamlet the also the central question that literatureaged asks who's there? and in the world at large who lose there has continue to resonate across the agesin whenue hamlet was originally published through today. when i read hamlet was in high school and slightly younger than the hamlet character but like a lot of adolescence and answer the question for myself and what hit home was i could
identify a to come to terms with his own grief as he neared the loss of my owny ow father at the age of nine. for example, i was fortunate that unlike camlet my father was not murdered by my local. u but the more essential aspects to face a great loss and a young age but him live first confronts a world that tells him to move on and get o over it. even his own mother tells him do not for ever seek for the i t noble father. that is common all the lives must die passing from beecher to eternity. a lot of the conversation in my high school classroom was difficult it was
for hamlet to make a decision but for mema personally was about how brief if not properly processed in its own time cany lead to greater challenges. hamlets is not indecisive were depressed by a grieving i've always felt he was placed in an unfair position. a young man barely being a man at that age and the problems he hase is been candid by taking their responsibility to fix those created by the grown-ups around him.lity if only the court let him take the time he needed to feell badly be it wouldn't be so tragic.fe of i found solace in playing latino and pretty soon i started to realize so many art forms give powerful ways
to express ourselves tos transcend every dayth linear conversation because alot recognized i was not alone had written about the process i was not the only person to ever have feelings and i would be okay. shakespeare let's have it -- hand what pass for word help us understand the power to say goodbye to keep the story alive in our hearts. in the harsh world draw my breath in pain to tell my story. [applause]
for shining soso bright a wonder there shakespeare ever envisionedes a world of many moods.oned each of these is its own little world to be pullede andmo twisted to the dark surface but it is right in and good to pay homage toie these points ofl light to a man who has brought so much light as he has encapsulated the very nature of what it means to be human. i sat in the theater humming an amazingeate experience the program noted the play was
first performed in london in 1611 and the thought of that made me stop paying attentionon to the plate for a few minutes. for 400 years of people like me to hear those same words what past is the prologue is what dreams are made of. as much as those of fell into there's. bringee ability to life into art to make a last for centuries that is the gift of shakespeare.e. i find with the timeless appeal and the saving of
about geology this study of our earth and solar system end universe for billions of years the stars and planets and galaxies are born to live and die because from stardust and return with the study of physics or astro die biology is a complex story with depth and drama the kind that shakespeare told so well i get frustrated sometimes with scientist who leave out the storiesienc burying people in jargon i was an art history minor hyper wrote the scientists engineers but who cares? how
how does this affect my life and place on thisy planet? science not only informs us but inspires us the more we create knowledge andthe understanding leads our curiosity we want to know those points of light and weight plan to send humans to mars to answer the question are we alone? what is the nature when we look at those thousands of planets are they not just habitable but inhabited? we need not just stand the design to understand
shakespeare knew how to deter tell the story to take that piece bynd piece andce where we're going. t but we need to approach these difficult challenges using our heads and hearts is about dreaming beg your creativity. perseverance and courage all the things we appreciate about shakespeare's work that marcion's the test of time. as we look at the most pressingpear questions we must come back tears shakespeareny w to share the story of science with everyone.cien [applause]
fabulous. even after 400 years shakespeare remains a go to commentator about affairs in rights the headlines clarence page has built a carrier of local and national affairs and recognized for the pulitzer prize forand commentary and nationally syndicated columnist and a commentary pleasezer join me to welcome our next guest. [applause] >>, m.a. word may and. but when we celebrate shakespeare we celebrate the power of words to describe
washington is downrighte shakespearean. [laughter] whywashs do not? michael told the four years ago from the 2012 presidential race almost all political rhetoric comes from two books from the 16ths and 17th century the king james bible in shakespeare's plays to be to read it - - comedic speech but above the is back even obama said but he said somebody melvin he saidody explain the - - appointed a secretary to explain stuff. [laughter]
later observed on "saturday live" we have a job for that it is the big part of a job in fact,he shakespearean j simplicity is something president clinton clinton, president obama and donald trump have in common. in fact, a campaign rally for the republican front runner explained the importance of the words to say i used to use the word incompetent i went to an ivy league school i know theid best words there is no better word than stupid. no wonder he was intrigued
in effect he compared it to the speech had found out he o almost reliesf exclusively onn single>> syllable auctions, oriented words obama eng employed a more nuanced type ofand words that the french brought to the english but today's he said almost ally political rhetoric comes close to books indeed political speech comes from those two speeds but latinues. and the derivative of the romance languages became the english spoken by elites
short action oriented as they are fighting to become the day-to-day living bridge rock-and-roll rhythms have a notable exception with the rolling stones' classic i cannot get no satisfaction. and then nick dagger what did he get to my with satisfaction? girly action. [laughter] now that song will be stuck in youracti head all they. we'll fill its well even in the age ofit. rock-and-roll all
greatness some are born grayson achieve greatness of have greatness thrust upon them. also addressing g.o.p.ir leaders you think r babies year to be played in a pipe? to donald trump to making kellygers i will speak duikers to her but through them my with hop free-speech with the soft phase of peace and then in the supreme court justicece candidate i like this place and willingly could waste my time in it. [laughter] or ted cruz my good friend clarence thomas.
or, back to donald trump and i will very politics today we're in for more surprises but to be inconsistent - - ut consistent we know who o wrotept the, script. thank you very much. [applause] you have me thinking of those rock-and-roll songs. for many of us the first encounter with shakespeare was in in high school our next presenter is no exception here in washington d.c. as a member of the high-school fellows program
and is vice president of the book club and the member. please join me to welcome our guests.me [applause] >> good afternoon i will tell you about and i shakespeare's story and how he is still relevant to today's teenagers era. my shakespeare story begins in eighth grade. high was a from the caribbean when i was 11 years old i didn't know any english so i struggled to learn in keep up i started to hit the library i read books & books throughout the years.
the dialer in the english and i was sufficient. so when i became a ninth grader i started to read macbeth with the book club. but i am so intrigued by how the language has changed and so the i years how they can understand that. d i decided i would keep reading shakespeare that would be a sign of his. i started to speak to other students about it. learning and words and feelings and what happens together. when i was in tenth grade writing about friendship
girlfriend or boyfriend was on august 2 would youu believe? there using evidence their whole life they didn't know there were talking about shakespeare but then they said he decided to trust his friends instead of his mother. shakespeare is still relevant today because he talks about what makes us humanan and who do we rely on shakespeare will still remain relevant and another 400 years and the stories will always be400 relevant.orie [applause]
>> what does this mean to the human? in to dedicate his life to a study of the humanities.of 2 to kong face-to-face with critical questions that poets and writers and philosophers have been struggling with heroets generation's spend a lecter foster in the love of money in exploration of community to serve as the president of bucknell university please join to welcome our guest.
[applause]ms. >> the sociological and existential significance of of "king lear" in the '80s i was teaching at stanford with the great works of western culture program every student had to pass w through to get through with a baccalaureate degree. if for a number of years it was king leer. k that was a pleasure to teach in dealing with students between the ages of 18 and 22.he p that went naturally to the place that they knew the waythat
it is about a deeply i dysfunctionals family and most of the conversations arose from thoserose relationships, and all ofwith the interesting domestic militia ships and with the humanitiesmanihes teaching in a summer programeopl including a number of executives and it was so interesting the difference the way these people read the play it wasn't just the domestic and familial but
what was in the foreground with the organization not ast th a family member but the cbo someone whose personality andam characteril overtime to be the king of thend kingdom wasngt fascinating to follow them through the play in the profound part of the drama is a river city that for most of the day he gives people orders and what to do when he comes back into the domesticen h context he is that a complete loss how to live with others but he cannot abandon the persona and
"king lear" but i didn't understand until years lateril when i had the y opportunity to say:positions of significant responsibility of the college one of the most difficult aspects iss coming homedi that night aftero having been in the office all day walking in the front d door to sit down at theay dinner table with my wife and two young children.n.si with the entourage and then they come up to him to say something insulting do you knowd sa hawaiian? -- who i am? he said yes. you are my baby's father. he goes into a rage repeated
numerous times.f th then felt divested in this context. so there i was at the dinner table wanting to say do you know, who i am? at [laughter] but it was eliminating to understand how shakespeare eliminates us to gives us perspectiveve to show us who we are in so many powerful ways. [applause] >> serving as chancellor ofia h the d.c. public school system since 2010. it is the fastest improving10. urban school districts in the country.y.
to accomplish this through intense focus on improving teacher quality to actively engage on students and families focused on creating programs that benefit all students. please join me to welcome our guest. [applause] you >> like most high-schoole mo students i had a casual relationship withrett shakespeare growing upperpe cry toleratedar plays like hamlet in the midsummer states dream and plotted through the sonnets barely understanding iambic pentameter but then i read zero fellow and i fell in unve. the intriguing and this control.
the best of great storytelling and great theater.it w but even more than that it was the first time i had gre encountered a main character who was a person of color in such a significant historical work.k. i was surprised but the play showed me people who looked like me for an important part of the world's storyy. help to validate my place in history. it challenged me and i was struck for the life of me a cannot understand what he had been that deserve the treasury. he was only guilty of excelling in the world stacked against him.
personally and professionally he was the man. he took the top spot in got the girl. the of likely success of the jealousy fuelled murders because of a fellow showed this little black girl in a hostile world people like me could excel. we have been doing it through a history. did in my current role had the pleasure to have that lesson of the d.c. public schools. we owe a huge debt to the bard. thank you william shakespeare for showing us who we could be in the re, d.d.
[applause] >> a few months ago we begin to commemorate the a significant anniversary the two were of the first folio of the complete works with exhibitions their performances did not0 reach and we are so happy we can do this with an initiative to collect the stories made c out of videosol posted. i want to share a couple of them with you now including one from joe's sweden the director of the vendors
creating a beautiful version much ado about nothing filming in one weekend at his home.e. [applause] >> share your favorite shakespeare quotation? >> today is i wish but what i have my love is deep the more i get to be the more i have but both are internet. >> much ado about nothing a winter's tale, they're all marvels. so picky favorite.
>> [speaking spanish] >> there were moments in my wer life i felt title belong orr i fit in. or that doesn't relate butes shakespeare was son' distantare and with royalty dying that pertain to me. but going back to the human condition of these peopleth fall in love this and get jealousus all of those things i get. they expect me to have a multi syllable rag word.bu i will say she is warm the climax of the winter's talee and then to get back again
>> we are two-thirds of the reduced shakespeare company a theatrical comedy troupe taking the long borings on its into short sharp comedy the complete works is a of americastory and the complete wordlete of god abridge. [laughter] abr ran in london and almost 10 years at the theater now it is time for this anniversary year we have created the tenth stage showtage shakespeares long-lost first play abridged. [laughter] here is a promise. we were on to work in england last year in just finished performing. so we traveled in the 12 seats passenger van that we call titus. it is awesome her.
[laughter] we saw a hole in the parking lot into it and the wholee pa they looked unimportant and then a bundle of papers that turned out to be the most literary discovery of the last 400 years.ars. not "50 shades of grey" but william shakespeare's long-lost play we had to cut it down is suggested as 100 hour long we have cut itut t down at two hours but one of we cut it thatrs seems he was an early influence of abbott and costello ; the glorious day to attend the theater with so many great houses to choose from.
>> are you bound for the theater? it is the road that which i am bound but for the theater? >> that is my destinationyou what stage maliki that i am r headed to theem theater. >> i asked if you're going to run the theater. [laughter] on the stick to i thought he meant the benevolence of rose by any other name bob bob lot. imasco are lomas the curtain. is the way.hat thank you very much. [applause] he wrote his first play.
we think he was around 17. he was young and foolhardy. he didn't know making richard iii in the house of york such a likable character could get him beheaded by queen elizabeth of arrival house of tutor. in his long-lost first play richard iii is a supernice guy trying to woo beatrice and it is not going very well so because he cannot love her he is determined to prove a vaudevillian. ♪'s i know more lady ♪ sigh no more ♪ 1 foot on seat and one onshore ♪ sign up and let them go ♪ be obliged and bonnie ♪ converting all your songs in the world to she didn't love me but i slept like a baby, i cried
and went to bed. ♪ let them go and bonnie ♪ converting your songs of the world into my shrink said i was crazy, i said i wanted a second opinion, he said you are a hunchback too. converting all your songs to grow until they laughed when i said i wanted to be a comedian, they are not laughing now. converting your songs into hey nonnie nonnie. thank you very much. [applause] >> we have a matinee here in an hour. we are two thirds of the shakespeare company. thank you very much. >> thank you.
>> our next presenter is a terrific colleague and shakespeare scholar. her book persecution, plague and fire describes the ways in which live performances can go wrong either because of gunpowder or pyrotechnics or the use of live animals, none of which are allowed in the folger reading room. join me in welcoming ellen mc chi. >> when i was a senior in college the culminating force for theater majors was acting in shakespeare's theme study. its culminating event which took place every april was a public performance of highlights from shakespeare's plays. since i have been more of a torchbearer type than a "hamlet" type during my acting career i was very happy to get the part of the prince of france catherine in the play henry v particularly in the scene where
he asks for ladies in waiting to train her in speaking english. this is like a painting over the course of shakespeare's play. it opens a window and casts a vibrant light on history that we would not otherwise see. at this point the french have been decimated and they were moping and boasting about his horse, catherine sees the writing on the wall. recognizing her marriage will be brokered to steal a negotiated peace she repairs for a reality everyone else fails to see coming. i knew i could not get all this rich context across so i concentrated on something i knew i was tasked to do, namely speak french. tripping away on the tongue at least the point for cancer and encounters two words that are homophones or sound alike for french absurdities. this, she responds with comic
alarm [speaking french] but then she also can't resist the opportunity to repeat. [speaking french] so my moment came. i performed my part and the sun set on my shakespearean acting career. the next day i was walking across campus, looking -- someone hailed me and came running up and spoke to me very slowly and said you are learning to speak english very well.
very well. when will you be journeying back to france? i paused for a moment in some confusion trying to figure out how to handle this before deciding honesty was the best policy at which point i said actually, i am an american. it was one of utter and profound disappointment, unable to pivot to the usual social niceties he turned and slouched away. i recognized the story is a bit of a cliché. many actors have recited these kinds of encounters with people who failed to recognize the difference between an actor and the character they performed. for me it was a profound illumination of the hold shakespeare still has on us. this person, a perfectly rational seating person by all outward signs was so reluctant to part company with catherine that he simply did not see or
would not allow himself to see all the ways in which i was not a 15th-century princess of france. i imagine dining out on the story for quite a while but i have chosen to share it with you today because i see the ways in which the spectator and i are more alike than different. i too hated dropping the part of catherine. i loved housing her inside my psyche and having her as my constant companion and i have come to believe one of the reasons i went to graduate school to study shakespeare was to keep myself in the company of shakespeare's imaginary persons for as long as i could. what is more i have come to think that is not so much delusional or wishful thinking as an expression of shakespeare's formidable ability to bring his world forward and large it in us and create these encounters on shockingly intimate grounds. let me finish one short example. a year and a half ago i was at a
conference on the hatred of the stage in renaissance europe. it was in fact the hated phenomena in. there was a presentation on annunciation of the actors in 16th century france. i was struck how it was repeated again and again, the word catherine uses to describe the indecency foisted upon her by the english tongue. all of a sudden i had this whole new revelation of catherine, how in imagining herself preparing to play the role of a french queen on the english stage she raises and sort of marks the anti-theatrical critique of the period. i have to say this is precisely what interests me as a scholar, the way plays of shakespeare's period draw our attention to the conditions of their own production and force us to notice how precepts of the period concerning the emptiness of show or the corrupting force
of the theater as an agent don't match the vibrant multidimensional experience of going and seeing a play. this presentation struck me not just as evidence for my argument but as revelation of how the idea lodged in me in the first place. if i made it my business to try to take apart limited visions of the stage perhaps the reason is catherine was with me during those sessions of sweet, silent thought when i was percolating my research. if i could see the way in which she quotes back the language of theater's detractors, it is because i played her and she primed me for things that way. my shakespeare moment, the long arc of my recognition, no other other is capable of orchestrating sustained and
sustaining relations between his characters and ourselves. [applause] >> thank you, ellen. [applause] >> considered by many to the most prominent latino playwright in america, octavio has written 20 plays mounted in major theaters across the country. he is an award-winning writer and director whose style defies formula. please join me in welcoming octavio scully's. change the way it goes, the way it goes, yanked out by the roots at dawn, in the ground like an old bone, that is how long we got, that is how long it takes to live, barely time enough to
love, knows the way it goes, you kiss and die, the only story we got time to tell because there it goes, there goes my son. he is leaving his romy and ready to die, taken all day to die and there it goes toward the blue above, the sun over romy and the parking lot of the hidden valley shopping center, the fire romy feels but romy knows before she knows.
and before i learned how to pronounce the word shakespeare -- [laughter] i was riding the waves of rhyme and alliteration. i was confounded by the meanings of the words, but the music of the verse, the elegant turns of phrase and brash cloak wallisms, and as i took on the role, the comic lexicon of nonsense, bodiness and magic streamed out of my new-fashioned mouth and made not an ass of me, but an artist. [laughter] because this is the moment i knew i wanted to write like this man. because this man had made a metaphor that expressed my world. i wanted to create my own language for my own works, but that took more time than i thought. i played iago in my senior year in college, and still all i could do was marvel at how sense and sense bilityd were so
beautifully fused so that what was expressed on stage was not bought or feeling, but some wondrous human marriage of the two. inseparable and complete. how will could endow a vile man with such heavenly language and then grace the mouths of peasants and soldiers with uncommon poetry, these were mysteries that this mexican kid just couldn't work out. but shakespeare taught me how. he taught me humanist universe. everyone has a soul of a poet. a king can be crude and a drudge speak with angels. but he also taught me that as his king and drudge spoke to our world, our kings and drudges must speak to his. so i turned to the language that coarsed through my childhood, the language where spanish and english fused to make spanglish,
the dancing poetry, the rhythms of my street -- [speaking spanish] come with a spanish drawl, and everyone speaks with a spanish accident. [laughter] i found my way into the city of morality or, rather, let the idiom find its way into me, and thereby hangs -- [speaking spanish] because once again my mouth was big enough for more words, more ideas, more metaphors than i ever thought possible. in my play a young girl stands between two fathers she must choose between and laments in her head the brevity of life, its hard slogs and sweet joys experienced in a single arc of the sun because she wants to die. the metaphor is hers to make. but she is a metaphor too, for a mexican kid in el paso, texas, who learned an extraordinary language wrought by genius 400 years and more ago. [applause]
>> thank you. thank you. [applause] >> donna is the chair of the english department at st. alban's school for boys' here in washington d.c. she's author of the poetry chat book, "the lovers' voice," as well as a book of poems," broken like joe." she was a member here at the folger since 1984 and has been contributing to the student work that has been happening here as they excel in their work at the folger. please join me in welcoming donna denizae.
[applause] >> so my first experience with shakespeare was one in which i happened, i was about 13, and i happened to watch a tv show. and it was with japanese characters and with english subtitles. i came to find out later, after a totally absorbing experience, that it was "throne of blood." and i think it was so satisfying for me because as an african-american, i felt like there was so much when i was growing up that seemed unjust. and here was divine justice and, boy, was it satisfying. but my next deep experience with shakespeare occurred at the end of graduate school. i had been raised by maternal grandparents, and my father, for him education was the top. when i was about to graduate, he wanted to see me march.
however, there had been a procedural glitch in the final days before the ceremony, and i learned i was going to have to wait another semester in order to actually graduate. he was furious. he blamed me. he said once again you get things wrong. do you ever get things right? even though it wasn't my fault. and so as i drove him back to the airport -- he had came from new york. he thought the trip had been a waste. as i drove him back to the airport, he's yelling at me, i'm yelling at him, what have you ever done? when have you ever helped us? you've let me down, i mean, it was one of those family rows that i think we all can recognize. he's yelling in french, in creole, i'm yelling in english. i dropped him at the airport and immediately went to my professor's house. she was working in her garden
pulling up tomatoes, pulling out tomatoes, pulling up lettuce and things. and i went into a rail against my father. she listened carefully, and she stopped and said your father gave you everything you need. he gave you life, he gave you good brains, and he gave you good looks. that stopped me for a minute. [laughter] everything else you can get on your own. that wasn't good enough. i still criticized him. and finally she turned to me, and she said: the branch that attacks the tree will itself die. what? [laughter] speak english. [laughter] she says, the branch that attacks the tree will itself die. the merchant of venice. read it. think about it. so i immediately thought, stopped in my tracks, the merchant of venice. she said, this is a play where
shakespeare was prophet. and so began our discussion. in a world that comes to confuse the material with the spiritual, every human relationship is tainted. so a father sets his daughter up as a lottery prize, friends base their relations on borrowing and lending money, christians engaged in a slave trade condemn a jew for desiring a pound of flesh and portia, dear portia has no love or few shylock. so when all human flesh has a price of material worth, anything is possible. for a minute, boy, did that stop me in my tracks. i began to understand my father's need to see me walk as a confusion, a confusion of spiritual with material. i was going to get my degree, but he needed to see me walk.
and i was guilty too. so at that point i began to see the relevance of shakespeare in my life, and that's the relevance that i love to bring to my classroom for students today certainly experience the same lesson of confused values. for example, they apply to college. lots of seniors. but it's really not about just getting an education. as soon as they say they're into college, it's which college, okay? or someone gets engaged, and they say, oh, i found the love of my life. i have a ring, and we want to see the ring, and we want to see the size of the ring. [laughter] or how about this? at graduation when everyone's happy and celebrating the movement through education, and now we're going to go off, kids
go up to each other, and they say what'd you get for graduation? be what would happen, i say to students, if you turned and said to your friends, i got a lot of love and a lot of support from my parents? you got nothing, huh? [laughter] so that's what i think we live in a world in which this play, the merchant of venice, is so apropos to our time. and it is a play that teaches us a lot about the confusion of spiritual and material on religious grounds, on mercantile grounds and on human grounds. and for me, i thank my teacher, because she taught me more than the merchant of venice. and thank you, shakespeare. [applause] >> fabulous. thank you, donna. ms. -- >> our next presenter has served
as assistant watergate special prosecutor, chief council to the senate judiciary committee and taught law for many years at harvard law school and at the kennedy school of government. however, you're probably more familiar with him in his current capacity as associate justice of the united states supreme court. justice stephen breyer has written many books and articles, including "active liberty," "making our democracy work with: a judge's view," "and the court and the world." please join me in welcoming justice stephen breyer. [applause] >> thank you. thank you. thank you for inviting me here. i mean, i've learned so much already, it never stops. it never -- what was that, the branch that turns on the tree will soon die. i'm going to tell that to my children. [laughter] and you said exactly what i think.
it never stops. that was said, i think, about shakespeare, he said he knows every person, every kind of person. and -- what they think, how they feel, how they express themselves. and he takes all those characteristics and shows you their thinking and their feelings and their thoughts and actions better than they could do it themself, and he does it all in poetry. that's what you said, and i take it in. and i often get asked by law students -- not law students, undergraduates. they want to be lawyers, you know, there we are, some have to -- and there we are. [laughter] they want to be lawyer, and they say what should i study as an undergraduate? they were doing what you were just saying, how do we get up on this ladder here? and i say, well, you know, you don't have to study something leading to law. i can't tell you what to study, but i'll tell you one thing, you have one life to lead.
one. and you'll know that life. and you'll know your friends, you'll know your family, but that's very, very few. and if you go into humanities more those four short years, if you learn some other languages, if you read a few books, you'll learn about some lives that aren't your own. but they're out there. every kind of person. so i recommend that. and it comes back in spades to help me. i mean, just a few weeks ago we heard about a fellow, i mean, it's been playing, and a fellow, what is iago? is there really such a person? i mean, he is a real are, serious rat. and could there be a person like that? then i happened to see a movie, a classic french movie on television. no, i saw it on an airplane, i think. it was children of the gods. fabulous movie. great movie. there's a character in it, a
real criminal. and he is an egomaining yak. i mean, he is a rotten person, but he has very high opinion of himself. very high. and he cares about nobody else, no emotional reaction to anybody else. it's him, the greatest in the world. and the only person that he will fight is the person who insults him and suggests he's not the greatest person in the world. and at the end of that film, he goes into a turkish bath where there's an aristocrat who did look down on him. dead. and when he goes and sits down, calmly on the shelf, pulls the chord and he waits for the police to come. what does he prove? that he's the greatest person in the world. to whom? himself. now ask yourself, and i ask myself, why at the end of othello when they say why did you do this, this marvelous man,
why have you ruined him and killed him, why? no answer. he's proved it. to himself. someone insults him, he got to prove he's the greatest person in the world. that's one way of looking at it, you see? shakespeare told me there are such people, and it helps explain the play, at least to me. and if, in fact, you see groundhog day which is one of the great movies in the world -- [laughter] what does it make me think of? be it makes me think of rosalynn, of orlando when she says, hey, you're going to do this until you get it right. [laughter] right, isn't that right? [laughter] i mean, and my goodness, there are problems of intelligent women, that they have some special problems to this day. and you want to know what they are? go look at beatrice. go look at beatrice and benedict, and there they are. so all over the place, all over the world you, i want to tell the high school students, the college students, the law students, with your one life, you better know about a few
others, and you better understand what this world is like. and if you have that desire, and i surely hope you do, you can do worse than start with william shakespeare. [applause] >> thank you, justice breyer. caroline clay is a 25-year veteran of the stage, film and television. most recently she played both characters in the folgers' latest production of a mid summer night's dream. a native washingtonian, she is on the faculty of the duke elington school of arts. she is a play wright who is committed to telling the story of unsung women in literature. please join me in welcoming caroline clay.
[applause] >> good morning and thank you. it is beyond an honor to be here this morning as a native washingtonian and a proud product of the d.c. public school system. my childhood was punctuated with field trips, many of which happened right here in this building, at the folger theater right next door. it was here that i first saw african-american actress franschel stewart dorr. a graduate of the yale school of drama. i saw her play tat ark nia when i was in middle school, a role that i had the honor of playing here just this season. today, in the presence of my students from the duke elington school of the arts, in the presence of our d.c. schools chancellor, it cannot be understated, it cannot be underestimated, the power of
black and brown children seeing themselves exemplified and celebrates by theatrical practitioners. making manifest the message: shakespeare is for everyone. in a time where it's ease i for the phrases -- easy for the phrases diversity and inclusion to ring hollow when used for grant speak, artists, produce beers, theater administrators, drama -- [inaudible] must lean forward into communities and truly engage, embrace the intersection of race, of gender, of radicalism, of culture. one of the greatest roles here at the folger was the complex and colorful lady macbeth. fran dorn, thank you for allowing me to be a part of that legacy. he hath almost served. why have you left the chamber?
was the hope drunk wherein you dress yourself? haven't slept since and with it now to look so green and pale at what he did so freely from this time? such i account by love. art thou feared to be the same in acts as in desire? the ornament of life. and yet be a coward in my -- [inaudible] letting i dare not wait upon -- [inaudible] like the poor cat in the adage. when you just do it, then you were a man. and to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man, nor time, nor place, yet you would make both. they have made themselves and their fitness now does unmake you? i have given -- and know how tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me. i would, while it was smiling in
my face, have plucked my nipples from its boneless gums and dashed its brain out -- if we should fail, we fail. screw your courage to the sticking place, and we'll not fail when duncan is asleep where to the rath every of his long day's journey -- [inaudible] while i would whine and waffle so convinced that memory, the warder of brain, shall be a fume. and the receipt of reason, a limbic only in swinish sleep that drench natures lie as in a death. what cannot you and i perform upon the unguarded duncan? and what not put upon his spongy offices who shall bear the built of our great quell? thank you. [applause] >> wow.
thank you, caroline. thank you. i'd like to thank again all of our presenters. [applause] thanks to them and thanks to our generous supporters, booktv and c-span2, the national be endowment for the humanities, the national endowment for the arts, the british council, google.org, vinton and zig rid serf, metropolitan group, apple and all of our co-hostst across the country. thank you for celebrating 400 years of shakespeare. [applause] and now, now it's your turn. the celebration isn't complete until your story has been told.
so please visit folger.edu. download a tudor rose or a hamlet dagger. grab a friend, grab your iphone and tell your shakespeare story. upload it to social media under the hashtag my shakes 400. you will be in terrific company. shakespeare gave us the stories and the poetry that let us explore who we are, and more importantly, who we might someday become. as we look out onto the horizon of the 21st century, we see what early lewis has called our yet to be perfected future. on this 400th anniversary of shakespeare's death, we celebrate shakespeare's staying power as a poet, as a playwrighting and as a cultural -- playwright and as a cultural force. but we also celebrate the infinite adaptability of his works and the fact that they
sustain a conversation with a truly diverse set of languages and cultural forms. that conversation continues because of what we, every one of us, bring to it. shakespeare belongs to all of us. a traveler without a passport, he stands at the edge of a vast world of imagination, of history and of the mystery of the human heart. we should continue to explore all three. thank you. [applause] >> let's give another round of applause to our amazing presenters! [cheers and applause] thank you.
thank you. [applause] you know, we're a building that is filled with rare books and man manuscripts, and the record of today will probably be on a digital medium that will need to survive for a century. we'll have to figure out how to do that. but i hope that in 2116 when folks are again in this room and thinking about what we said then, that they'll look at today and say that was a fellowship and a congregation of people who were truly part of an enduring and powerful legacy that we can celebrate again and again. in just a few moments, we're going to be opening up the phones for a national shakespeare call-in discussion here with booktv's peter slen. thank you for joining us at the folger shakespeare library for "the wonder of will," and learn more about how you can participate in the 400th at folger.edu.
please join me in welcoming peter slen. [applause] >> host: and as michael witmore just said, it is now your turn. we want to hear from you. you've heard from this audience for an hour and a half, and it's your turn. 202 is the area code, 748-8200 in the east and central time zones, 748-8201 in the mountain and pacific time zones, and those of you here in the audience, if you have any questions, we have some audience mics set up as well, and we'll be talking those questions. michael witmore, the director of the folger shakespeare library, and ellen mckay of indiana university will be joining us up here to answer all your questions. now, michael witmore, we spent the last hour and a half hearing nice things about william shakespeare. what's the -- [laughter] >> guest: are you going to ask me a hard question?
>> host: what's the criticism? you can go right over there. >> guest: what's the criticism of why he's no good? >> host: yeah, is there a criticism? >> guest: well, he used a lot of long words, and he had a hard time stopping himself when he saw a metaphor or an image that he loved. he just had to go. so even people who knew shakespeare had said would that he had blotted a few of those words. it was like cleopatra's nose, once he said -- he saw it, he couldn't resist. >> host: ellen, for those of us who have tried and tried and tried to access william shakespeare, what's your advice? >> guest: i guess my advice is there are many ways, happifully, of coming at shakespeare. you're not alone if you find there's maybe a high hurdle there and performances of
remediations of shakespeare, shakespeare in comic books, shakespeare in memes is a perfectly bl -- suitable way of gaining access to him. there's no reason he has to be tied to arcane practices of interpretation. >> guest: when we think about what it must have felt like people in london, they were hearing it in this verse form in this new genre called professional theater. that's probably -- think about what's happening now in new york on broadway. when americans are seeing their colonial history presented in a new art form in an idiom of hip-hop and being reintroduced to their history. it's such a great example of how contemporary forms can teach us what it must have been like then and why that tradition of storytelling with newed a apations or new -- adaptations
or new language just keeps going? >> host: let's hear from our viewers. let's begin with a call from jim in king george, virginia. jim, you're on booktv at the folger library. >> caller: thank you. i appreciate the program x i appreciate the attempt to universalize. but i'm afraid there was too much identity politics in the presentations given this afternoon and not enough on the universal quality. i think the supreme court justice breyer said it best when he talked about universal quality of -- [inaudible] and some of the other characters in the play and less about what were identity politics. so please emphasize universal qualities and less on the particular identities of the
presenters and of the characters that were described. >> host: all right, we got the point, jim. michael witmore. >> guest: jim, your point is these plays speak to everybody, and when we take these plays up and make them our own, we bring our own perspective. i appreciate what you're saying because i do think shakespeare is a universal writer. and when we encounter his stories, we feel like shakespeare's describing us. so the fact that so many people have brought their own lives and, yeah, their own particular perspective to shakespeare shows us just what a universal writer he really is. and so, you know, i hope everyone who's watching the show today leaves feeling that shakespeare can speak to them, can speak for them but that also they can speak shakespeare's words in the way that they want. >> host: let's take another call. this is another jim in maas lin, ohio. jim, go ahead. >> caller: oh, good afternoon. mr. witmore, i also very much
enjoyed the tour of the folger library that you did with peter slen a while back. i'm 38 years a teacher of science and math, but as an undergrad i was one of those rare students who took the, studied humanities along with the sciences. i had three terms of shakespeare simultaneously with three of physics. which is going to get to my question in a second. in 1984 i got to visit stratford upon avon, picked up a couple of books there that i'll commend quickly, every man's companion to shakespeare, a british publication by dent, ghei roett and barbara lloyd evans and a quick interpretation of shakespeare by d.c. browning. great to add to the folger volumes that you publish. [laughter] on someone's shelf. my question, with the emphasis on modern technologies and health sciences and other
s.t.e.m.-focused curricula in our education systems at all levels, do you think enough students will continue to study shakespeare to maintain some familiarly and that it may be still offered as dedicated courses at the college level as opposed to just kind of inserting shakespeare in a survey course? thank you. >> host: well, let's direct that to our shakespeare scholar and teacher, ellen mckay, of indiana university. >> guest: sure. well, i have great hope for the endurance of shakespeare. he's made it thus far, pretty impressive. the rationale or the push behind those hopes, i guess, is that in many curricula where there's been an openness, a larger freedom to include text that speak to a variety of populations and come from a variety of places of origin, in the midst of those curricular
visions, shakespeare still end rolls. -- enrolls. they fill. and so many of us see the teaching of shakespeare as an opportunity, really, to quicken the ap appetite for humanities learning into thinking of all shapes and forms. shakespeare really, if he encompasses all, if he feels to us that he speaks to everything, surely that's an advantage we can draw out really to make the case for the humanities and for the necessity of its continuance. >> host: well, one of the things the folger library did here was ask students to send in tweets, happy birthday tweets to william shakespeare. and forest in edgewood high school in wisconsin says thou saucy, boil-brained anchor blossom. [laughter] let's take another call. this is jane in weatherford be, texas. hi, jane. >> caller: hello. thank you again more c-span and for this wonderful program i attended college for the first time in my life at the age of
65, and i had a familiarity with the plays of romeo and juliet, macbeth. and so it wasn't until i enrolled in theater that i was really able to understand the words of shakespeare. and i performed in some of the plays, even at that age. and after one of my performances, my younger brother gave me a copy of works of shakespeare which included sonnets, folios and plays. and, sad to say, during katrina i lost my book. and i still feel that loss every day. thank you. >> guest: oh, that's a tough one. we run a research library with one of the largest collections of english books in the world, and even european books, and we had a lot of books from this period, but there are so many that are lost.
and it reminds me of when prospero says at the end of the tempest, i'm going to crown my book. [laughter] -- drown my book. for those of us who love books and wish that we had more plays by shakespeare, we know that he wrote at least two that they exist, but we don't have them. that feeling that you could actually lose a book and once it's gone, it's gone is so heartbreaking. i think what you're feeling about your own book is the way we feel about books in the past, and that's why libraries are so important, because we need to save these stories. and we need to have other people reading them in the long run. >> host: certificate teen, great falls high, michigan. happy birthday, shakespeare, thank you for inspiring many great authors and actors around the world especially in small towns. what does she mean by that, ellen mackay?
>> guest: well, shakespeare has routinely produced in small theater companies. so, you know, they're kind of everyday, small town fare that might be kind of neil simon plays if often enhanced with plays that would, i think, normally be considered really difficult, right? they're challenging for the most incredibly dynamic, talented thespians we have. and so there's something fabulous about the fact that those of us who are english language speakers often -- although not exclusively, right? -- but our theatrical experience requires we include shakespeare, and we push ourselves to do works that are incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. i think the last speaker really gave voice to the satisfactions of that process. >> host: and, michael witmore, i think it was the young lady in high school who said during the program that shakespeare is accessible to the because he speaks to us today.
>> guest: i think his voice is one we remember. you know, the language is 400 years old, so there are some of those words that we no longer rememberment but even if you only understand 20% of those words, that 20% is fantastic. [laughter] and the story that they wrap around, that they tell is one that you can understand and enjoy whether you're in boise or in miami or in boston or in them be by. -- tempe. it's the stories that get us into all of that beautiful language. so i think the stories are on his side, and that's how we get a leg up when it comes to those really demanding passages and words. >> host: and if anyone here in the folger reading room would like to ask a question, we have a mic right in front. ben in telluride, colorado. ben, go ahead. >> caller: hi. thank you for taking my call, and i'm really enjoying your show. it's such a delight to see it on
his birthday and the date of his passing too. reason i'm calling is i feel very strongly about the value of what you're doing here, presenting shakespeare to this mass of an -- massive an audience as you can in a way that makes him seem as accessible as he can be. and i'm wondering why we don't have a 24-hour station, television stationing -- station a la cnn that shows only shakespeare and gives us all the various ways that shakespeare's been studied ask so on and so forth. applied in so many different ways. >> guest: i think you're talking about c-span3. >> host: ah. our american history. this is unusual for us. because we do nonfiction on booktv, so this is kind of a special occasion for us. but, ellen mackay, how
accessible is william shakespeare's work today, and where would you recommend ben in tell you ride, colorado, go? >> guest: i'd start with youtube. if you're interested in the range of approaches, the kind of global range of approaches, but also this range from the highly professional to the highly amateur, youtube is a fantastic place to see shakespeare performed. and i would also say your local library gives you an incredible array of versions of shakespeare that can be approached by 4-year-olds and that can be approached by those of us who have been lifelong enthusiasts. >> guest: i'll put in a plug for live theater. [laughter] it is a living, embodied art form, and theater was the first immersive dynamic art form we had. it's really something to be part of. and so there are so many ways to do it. but the point is to do it. and i think if we need to come up with a special playlist on youtube that your rates
every -- that curates every hour 24 hours a day, that is a doable thing. but i'm glad that you want to see more. of. >> host: we have a gentleman here at the mic. >> good morning. hi, ellenen, and hi, michael. i am from the still vexed bermudas, so it'll be no surprise to know that the tempest is my favorite shakespeare play. being born in bermuda. i just have a question. was prospero shakespeare? >> guest: oh. you want to take it? okay. that's a great question anding of course, the play -- and, of course, the play is often read as shakespeare's sort offal gore call --al goriccal farewell to his art and certainly to world making and the use of art and magic to produce lived environments that feel realer than real, makes him seem like a perfect stand-in for the
playwright who we recognize as having a distinct power of make us believe so strongly in his characters. it's a fable that the tempest was the the last play that shakespeare wrote. but at the same time, i kind of love that tendency, because it demonstrates how strongly we all invested in thinking through how shakespeare himself thought about his own profession of his art. >> host: anything to add to that? >> guest: i think that's exactly right, and it is tough to think about him saying good-bye to the stage. but he must have said good-bye every time he it should a play. >> guest: right. >> guest: and we if he stood up and was the actor for hamlet's father, playing hamlet's ghost, you can just imagine he does write for specific actors in his company that all the time shakespeare's thinking of this character as himself, as someone else. he must have been really, really good at pretending that he
wasn't who he was. [laughter] >> host: el dorado high school in texas, happy birthday, i love you more than hamlet's mother loves his uncle. [laughter] malcolm's in elk grove, california. hi, malcolm. please go ahead, you're on booktv. malcolm, you with us? do you know what? let's go on to robert in portland, oregon. robert? we're listening. >> caller: very young in high school. i went to a competition of shakespeare in julius caesar, and up on stage i lost my voice, and i'd always heard that that happens to people. i was very young. it was a real surprise to me and my poor teacher who had to endure that. but i became a fan of shakespeare after that. i loved his writings, and i also
love music, and i love groups such as the beatles. so i was just kind of curious what kind of influence do you find in today's modern music, how -- any ties with shakespeare in our modern music today? thank you. >> guest: wow. great question. >> host: who wants to start? >> guest: well, i have to say in the wake of prince's death, the line "good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing me to my rest," has been floating through my mind. i guess that's influence sort of going the wrong way, but it speaks maybe to the way in which, you know, great creators of art seem somehow always to be enmeshed in each other. probably because they're great because they're asking questions that are so profound and that provoke something so deep in us.
so maybe they traveled in similar circles in that way. >> guest: yeah. socialit's such a big question. there's a lot of music that shakespeare himself wrote. he certainly wrote lyrics to song, so those have inspired musical performances, but i was thinking of the soundtrack to romeo and juliet which was such a big part of that film. there was the look, there was the actors, but then there was this fantastic soundtrack. really, you know, dynamic and immersed in the emotions of that play. radiohead did exit music for a film which was the walking out music which is one of the best songs they wrote. or i'll tell you another one, an independent band, indie band called low is playing a concert for the first folio in duluth, minnesota. [laughter] they're going to be playing it to some early shakespeare silent films. but you can see the direct and indirect ways in which a writer can create such great scenes and
stories and then these beautiful phrases gets picked up by other people who want to make a big impression and tell a big story. >> host: kelsey, may you be pressured as america's favorite playwright. have we co-opted mr. shakespeare? [laughter] >> guest: i think -- shakespeare was born in england, but america adopt canned him. and i think -- adopted him and i think returned him to the world as a global citizen. i think there is something about the ways in which in an open-hearted way americans took on this writer, took on his voice that freed him up to become something that he never could have been if he remained on those shores. and to go back to the beatles, you know, these two countries have been trading things. rock and roll left america and went to the u.k., and then it came back with the beatles. but this is what cultures do with each other. they take their art form and say, well, let's do this. and then it comes back.
and so i think your question is a really great one. i think he is an american writer in some way, but he's also a trinidadian writer, he's a south african writer, he's a writer in chinese, he's a filipino writer. this is the way great art works, it travels. >> host: we have a gentleman at the mic. >> guest: yes, hello. i'm the proud father of a lilley mckee fellow. want to congratulate the folger library for that program. [applause] it's such a tragedy in many ways that we don't know more about shakespeare's life himself and its details, and our tendency to look at his plays and assume that they're biographical or autobiographical whereas we don't know if they are. probably most likely they weren't. but one issue i'm very interested in because of the history of that time what was going on with the religious conversion and the prussian reformation and england becoming
not catholic and how -- i would like to hear your opinions on the sense of how you think that religion may have played into shakespeare who clearly grew up in the midst of that, had catholic relatives, was in protestant london and any knowledge or insight you have on that question. thank you. [laughter] >> guest: go for it. >> guest: yeah. that's a fantastic, scholarly topic and not, you know, to say this sort of cliche thing, but the source of great and fabulous and protracted debate. i think it's impossible not to see shakespeare, you know, doing things like staging witches and not think that he's thinking about how the religion, the shift in religion in the period views things like exorcism and demonism and the materiality of religion in everyday life. i think, you know, great scholars have written about what it means to shift to the a protestant tradition that gets rid of a lot of the interaccessory practices, a lot
of the ways in which people can make direct and intimate contact with the divine. and so so some scholars have said, well, the theater takes up the space of the church at a moment in which catholicism and all of its gorgeous and deeply personally and spiritually-held traditions are no longer available. but people have also said, you know, look, shakespeare makes us feel that way about the theater because he's a catholic, right? because he's secretly catholic s and he can't help but spark that catholic feeling within his plays. i don't think we'll know the answer to those questions, but aren't they wonderful questions? and isn't it amazing to think that we still care about the reformation in part because shakespeare's such a vivid presence within it. >> host: next call for our two guests, ellen mackay of indiana university and michael witmore, director of the folger shakespeare library here in washington, is meg in new york.
meg, you're on booktv. apologize for that. let's try gary in port washington, new york. >> caller: yes. i was going to ask about shakespeare being catholic and the times, but the gentleman asked the question, so i want to ask about the theory of shake peer's authorship -- shakespeare's authorship which i think has no validity, but i would love to have these scholars on this day debunk the conspiracy theater -- >> host: debunk away, michael witmore. [laughter] >> guest: well, there have been many candidates since the 19th century that have been selected as the secret author of the plays. we have no reason to doubt that he was anyone but the man from stratford, the son of a glover, who moved to london, who learned this fabulous craft of being in
the theater, who succeeded and then went back and retired. but i think the interest in shakespeare and our fascination with his abilities and his outsized influence has led us to ask how could anyone be capable of creating that kind of legacy? >> guest: uh-huh. >> guest: you know, even francis bacon who was so educated or another candidate who's been suggested, queen elizabeth i, what level of education would it take to get you to the point where your stories are repeated 400 years later? i think it's very, very tough to explain that. and so we've always wanted to know. sometimes we've hoped that knowing who he was would tell us how to read his plays, but i think what we know about great art is that it defies the basic experiences of the writer, and it reaches far out beyond that. i would, though, say as a director of the largest
shakespeare collection in the world, we don't swear people to allegiance to one with candidate or another -- [laughter] and, frankly, the search for the other writer has led to many interesting discovers. discoveries. you can find out interesting things even if you're searching for the wrong guy. [laughter] and so we welcome qualified scholars and people who need to use this collection, because there is more to learn about this writer. >> guest: and i just say on the mar love january theater, one handy way of debunking that one is just to point out that marlo is one of the -- or marlowe is one of the few people about the period including the fact that he died in a bar brawl in 1594 which would cut off a huge swath of the shakespearean canons unless he somehow wrote these plays and stored hem in a magic box before his death, which seems unlikely. >> host: high school number 223
in the bronx, i just want to say happy birthday, that i really enjoyed twelfth night. and cecilia in tennessee, happy birthday, shakespeare. i love your work. my first play acting as ophelia in hamlet opened my eyes. william's in greenbush, michigan. you on booktv -- you're on booktv, go ahead. >> caller: first of all, congratulations, mr. witmore, on a wonderful celebration of the 400th anniversary of the death of william shakespeare. i too request a question on the identity issue -- request on the identity issue. i kind of believe he was the 17th early of oxford, as you've learned. many famous people including charlie chapman, sigmund froild, mark twain and others have also raised issues regarding shakespeare's true identity. and given the fact that
bartlett's quotations, for example, has more quotations from shakespeare than from the king james bible, is it -- regardless of whom shakespeare might have been, francis bacon, christopher marlowe, you make the list up, could it possibly have been the work of one man only? and if it were another candidate, if we look at the body of his work, the book has been -- [inaudible] rather than the picture. would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? would a shakespeare by any other name read -- >> host: all right, william, i think we got the point. mr. witmore? >> guest: i think we actually know the names of his collaborators. we now believe he collaborated on up to 30% of his plays. so thomas middleton, george wilkins, fletcher, at least
three playwrights who he worked with. and it was a collaborative art form in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. you said, well, who's really good at opening seens? well, let's get fletcher over here. [laughter] and so the more we learn about how theater worked, the more we realize that some parts of these plays that we credit to shakespeare you were co-written. simply, shakespeare may have written parts of other parts of plays, for example, sir thomas moore. there is a page which really looks like it's by shakespeare, it may even be in his handwriting. but i think your question is a really good one. how can one person have such reach? the answer partly is that he, in addition to being a fantastically talented person, was part of a collaborative art form in an urban environment that was rapidly getting contact with trade and other cultures. science was coming online.
so all of that including printing, which means that his words get to last beyond the performance, come together. and that's what helps us get shakespeare. it's a convergence of circumstances. and i would just add that alongside the fact that he probably was a remarkable person. >> host: we have somebody here in the audience. >> hello. my name is eva are mcnabb, i'm the daughter of the man who was just at the mic. [laughter] so as you said, i'm a lilley mckee fellow here at the folger, very pleased and honored to be one. like father, like daughter. i was also thinking about how we assume the things are autobiographical or we assume that or are thinking about is this really him, are there other people working with him. and for fun i want to know if in your research and study of shakespeare that assumptions that you've had about shakespeare have been debunked or that you found out something
about shakespeare that you wouldn't have expected to find out. >> guest: wow. that's a lovely question. i think, actually, i thought bree adams' presentation was great on this front, in the sense that i'll have a standing reading of a play. and as i age and feel my mortality more tightly gripping me, my position relative to that play in lear is a fantastic example. it will shift, right? and i will come to believe that shakespeare's actually much more interested in a different character n a different not or subplot than i had here heretofe thought. and it's one of the great joys of being able to reencounter his work. it's a great professional privilege and a great joy of my life that i get to sort of experience this myriad of beliefs about him. and one of the great things about knowing little about him is that interpretation, literary interpretation is a scaffolding
that we erect around a play with always the understanding that, you know, it's contention. it's variable. we'll stack things on and take things off and try out new things. and that's part of the beauty of the work in the same way that performed adaptations are rich and wonderful. maybe they don't bring across everything that we felt was valuable in the play, but they'll harp on something that we haven't seen before. criticism works the same way, so it's highly variable. so i would say, yes, all the time my conviction about where shakespeare's heart is in a given play or given sonnet will shift over time. >> host: let's see if you can source this quote by jeff in ames high school. even though some might think you're a luxurious mountain goat, you're still my bro. happy birthday. [laughter] >> guest: that's one of the late plays. .. yesterday from
henry viii was a piece from fletcher. philip is in richmond, california. hi, philip. to answer one of your questions, one of the things i discovered is now that we can fully search 60,000 books printed from 1473, and 1700, i now know that shakespeare did not invent 1700 words. what we will learn over time is that number is going to come way down. lexicographers at the oxford english dictionary went for the first book they read when they wanted to use the word first, shakespeare borrowed things all
the time and it is no bad thing to say he likes to borrow. that made him a great writer. this works here. look at this. >> three words attributed to william shakespeare. >> oh my gosh. let me think. he has a lot of negations. on house -- on household. i am trying to think. certainly have encountered them in the past. >> michael whitmore. >> this is a phd qualifier. >> stump the professor. >> the answers are all down spirit. used as a verb in macbeth is definitely shakespeare but it is also said he created words like bedroom, marketing, lonely used in a particular sense. if shakespeare invented the
modern meaning of lonely my heart breaks, i think that is amazing. >> the phrase harmonious, charmingly, which i love in "the tempest," a strange syntactical construction, very indicative of the inventiveness i like best about shakespeare, pooling from language we know but messing with it. >> another tweet sent to the folger library, happy birthday you swag master. words in sacramento, california, we are listening, you are on booktv, go ahead. >> shakespeare is a very personal thing to me. i went through the normal high school education which was terrible about it and turned me off completely, but my wife insisted i go with her to the oregon shakespeare festival in
ashland, oregon, one year and we started sitting through henry vi part iii which i found pretty dreadful until i got to the end and the character names gloucester came out who i absolutely fell in love with completely. i love politics and i love you lenny in politics and i finished -- i would love to see more of that guy. there is a whole play about him. we have got to come back for that next year. every year since 1982 my family had an annual summer visit to ashland, i have a daughter in washington dc and another at purdue and every year the one absolute family thing is everybody flies back in august and we drive to ashland for a week, i was involved in a case with the supreme court, we walked up the night after the argument to watch a hilarious thing about 12 night. in the last two days i keep posting quotes from shakespeare i have randomly collected
including last night the eulogy from cymbeline for shakespeare's death which is a better eulogy than the one on his gravestone, but anyway, since you are asking a lot of trivia questions i had when i would put to the panel because this is one that we debate. >> let me say we perform shakespeare's plays here in the first elizabethan theater in north america throughout the year except the summer months. when you think about a road trip you should come to washington and see the first folio and see shakespeare performing this beautiful tutor theater. >> when i am in dc i go to the folger every visit. i try to see a show if it is there. i remember seeing the 12 night because we were exhausted from a supreme court argument and that was our way of getting over that exhaustion. let me ask you this.
which play is most performed, richard iii or hamlet, and who has more lines, hamlet or richard iii? >> hamlet has the largest number of lines. >> hamlet has the most lines in a single play but met margaret has the most lines. >> in multiple plays -- i would bet for the most performed it is richard iii, hamlet is a long and demanding play, you need a fabulous actor to play that role and handle all those lines. i know the internet will answer this question. >> maybe not correctly. >> what is your advice to high school teachers? >> i respect high school teachers who teach shakespeare a tremendous amount and i want to send out all my praise and affection to them because once they come to me they are already interested. they are already oriented to
shakespeare because of the great work teachers are doing. my advice to high school teachers is as much as it is possible and not only school board will allow it in this way, to allow students to come at shakespeare at any level from any perspective from any side, to pick up any piece of the play, because those kind of encounters that come from curiosity are the best way to learn, to find a point of access. in the past, the prior age in which it was thought to curate shakespeare and try to keep the saucy bits out of children's years, that doesn't work. i think understanding shakespeare as someone who tries to address the full range of human experience is crucial in bringing children and high school students and middle school students and junior high
students into a really robust and pleasurable experience with the play. >> lee is a teacher in maryland, happy birthday, shakespeare, my life in my classroom would not be the same without you. catherine in albuquerque. >> hello. this has been a delightful experience. i had trepidation but i will tell you it is organic and will would have loved it. i have discovered an international national treasure in michael whitmore which was a delight and i do have a question for doctor mckay. >> before you ask that question why did you have trepidation? >> i am a spoiled child of a certain era where i had professors like professor mckay so i have been in this desert,