The Bard Is Born

Chicago Celebrates Shakespeare’s 450th

March 2014

To mark The Bard’s birthday—April 23—and celebrate his work, the Newberry has partnered with Chicago Shakespeare Theater and The Shakespeare Project of Chicago to host a small but spectacular exhibition featuring more than 40 items from the three institutions. “The Bard Is Born” will be open April 22 through June 21. It will focus in part on Henry V, the first play performed—on the roof of the Red Lion Pub—by Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and the one being performed there April 29 through June 15 of this year.

Highlights of the exhibition include a First Folio; a musical score, composed circa 1500, titled “Victory of Agincourt;” a stunning, oversized, nineteenth-century engraving titled “The Infant Shakespeare Attended by Nature and the Passions;” and Chicago Shakespeare Theater Founder and Artistic Director Barbara Gaines’s annotated copy of Henry V from that first, rooftop performance. Like all Newberry exhibitions, “The Bard Is Born” is free and open to the public.

Henry V is The Bard’s legendary coming-of-age story, in which a charismatic young monarch confronted by the ferocity of war proves his worth as a man—and king. The play is Shakespeare’s rallying cry, celebrating the power of language to summon battlefields from thin air and ignite our souls to action.

The night before the exhibition opening, the Newberry will warmly welcome Ms. Gaines and Former Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library Gail Kern Paster for a lively discussion on The Bard’s work, and his work as performance. The exhibition will be open before and during the discussion, which begins at 6 p.m. Monday, April 21, and is part of the “Conversations at the Newberry” series, sponsored by Sue and Melvin Gray.

And at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 26, the Newberry is pleased to host once again long-time partner Shakespeare Project of Chicago, which will perform a staged reading of All’s Well That Ends Well. For the past decade, The Shakespeare Project has enchanted Newberry audiences with magnificent staged readings of The Bard’s plays—all free and open to the public.

A much larger, international exhibition will be held at the Newberry in 2016 to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death—also on April 23.