All the city’s a stage – and screen – as Washington, D.C., pays tribute to William Shakespeare in 2007 with a landmark festival of theater, films, music, dance and exhibitions at venues throughout the nation’s capital.
The Library of Congress continues its participation in the festival with a new film series titled “Screening Shakespeare,” made possible by a generous grant from The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc. The series of more than 70 films and television shows inspired by the Bard’s works will be shown from April 20 through Aug. 31, in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the Library’s James Madison Building located at 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The films are free and open to the public but reservations are required; call 202-707-5677 one week before each show). A complete schedule of films can be found at www.loc.gov/rr/mopic/pickford/shakespeare2007.html
From a 40-second silent film depicting the duel scene from “Macbeth” (1905) to Kenneth Branagh’s 4-hour unabridged version of “Hamlet” (1996), the series will showcase the breadth of Shakespearean screen adaptations during the past 100 years. Included are classics starring Sir Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles and Richard Burton, and Maurice Evans’s legendary Hallmark Hall of Fame television performances. Other programs include broadcasts from the golden age of live television, BBC adaptations and Shakespeare-inspired animated films and sitcoms.
Many of these treasures have not been seen since their original release or broadcast. For example, the BBC’s 1967 version of “Much Ado About Nothing” was considered lost until a videotape was unearthed in the Library’s collection during preparations for this series.
Other activities planned by the Library in conjunction with the festival include a Shakespeare-themed walking tour of the Thomas Jefferson Building and a small display titled “Shakespeare in America,” which is on view 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday - Saturday, through Aug. 18 in the “American Treasures of the Library of Congress” exhibition in the Southwest Gallery of the Jefferson Building, located at 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.
The tour points out Shakespeare’s name on the ceiling of the Jefferson Building’s Great Hall, his bronze statue in the Main Reading Room, and words and images from his poetry and plays on the first and second floor corridor walls. (For more information, contact 202-707-4604.)
Drawn from the Library’s collections, the display includes mementoes of famous actors and actresses; performance photographs; a tobacco advertisement; theatrical posters; costume designs from the 1930s Federal Theatre Project; political cartoons from the 19th and 20th centuries; and manuscripts of classical and popular music related to Shakespeare’s plays. The display is available online at www.loc.gov/exhibits
Spearheaded by Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser and Shakespeare Theatre Company artistic director Michael Kahn, the citywide Shakespeare festival coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Folger Shakespeare Library, the largest collection of Shakespeare memorabilia outside of Stratford-upon-Avon. For more information on the festival, visit the official Web site at www.ShakespeareinWashington.org