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The Public Theater's ROMEO AND JULIET, Julie Taymor and More Set for NYPL Shakespeare Exhibition Events

As part of the international celebration of the quadricentennial of Shakespeare's death, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center is presenting a new free multimedia exhibition, SHAKESPEARE'S STAR TURN IN AMERICA, which documents the on-going popularity of Shakespeare's plays in North America from Colonial times to present day using materials from the Library's vast collections.

The exhibition will be on display from February 18, 2016 through May 27, 2016 in The Library for the Performing Arts' Vincent Astor Gallery, Shelby Cullom Davis Museum.

"Shakespeare's work is as much a staple of the classroom as it is at prestigious stages around the world, and he inspires artists in every discipline," said said Jacqueline Z. Davis, Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleischman Executive Director of The Library for the Performing Arts. "While this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, he still feels very much alive in our culture and within The Library for the Performing Arts."

Curated by Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, Ph. D. Judy R. and Alfred A. Rosenberg Curator of Exhibitions, Shelby Cullom Davis Museum at The Library for the Performing Arts, SHAKESPEARE'S STAR TURN IN AMERICA features broadsides and programs, engravings and photographs, original set and costume designs, set models and costumes, and prompt scripts used by Edwin Booth, Orson Welles, Katharine Hepburn, and actors in recent Shakespeare Festival productions. The exhibition highlights well-known classics, such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, and also directs attention to plays with particular historic relationships, such as the Roman history plays, frequently performed in the 1930s for their emphasis on political responsibility, and the pageant version of The Tempest, specifically created for the 1916 Tercentenary. Costumes, sketches and a set model for Much Ado About Nothing reveal the non-traditional casting and period switches typical of contemporary American Shakespeare festivals.

"How did Shakespeare become so important in American social and cultural life? The Library for the Performing Arts' collections could easily support 400 exhibitions," said Cohen-Stratyner. "For this one, we started with the prompt scripts, scene plots, designs, and storyboards that document the creativity that inspired productions. In these artifacts, which were never meant for the public, we can help the gallery audience understand the experiences of the historic audience and production teams."


  • Revealing prompt scripts, and scripts with director's notes for productions ranging from a 1774 staging of King Henry IV to the Delacorte's 1972 Much Ado About Nothing
  • A preliminary storyboard by Julie Taymor for her critically acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for Theatre for a New Audience, 2013
  • Rare watercolors by E.H. Sothern of the Sothern-Marlowe Company productions (c. 1900)
  • Julia Marlowe costumes for Romeo and Juliet and Much Ado About Nothing from The Museum of the City of New York
  • Five costumes from The Public Theater's collection, as seen in two different productions of Taming of the Shrew, and three productions of Much Ado About Nothing
  • Costume designs by Charles W. Hawkins for the Federal Theatre Program's production of Coriolanus
  • Original Al Hirschfeld drawing of King Henry IV, Part 1, as presented on the Play of the Week, 1960-1961 season
  • Katharine Hepburn's hand-written notes and sketches about staging for Much Ado About Nothing
  • Posters, programs, and other materials from historic and modern productions of Shakespeare's work from North America

The exhibition website ( will also serve as an educational resource where teachers can find enhanced portals into the Library's Digital Collections curated by play.

To further reflect on Shakespeare's enduring significance to performing artists, The Library for the Performing Arts is currently displaying Artists for LPA Share Shakespeare: "A More Personal Connection," in the Plaza Corridor Gallery. In this unique exhibition, the Library spoke with artists who use its collections and asked for their most memorable Shakespeare experiences, their favorite and least favorite plays, productions, characters, and actors; their greatest inspirations. Their responses are enlightening, and each has been paired with artifacts from the collections to further inform them. Artists whose responses are featured in the display include Carol Burnett, Sting, Stephen Sondheim, Jason Robert Brown, and more.

The Library for the Performing Arts will also offer a series of public programs, including a special film series featuring BBC productions, in conjunction with the Shakespeare exhibitions. Other locations throughout the NYPL system will also offer Shakespeare programs throughout the year.

**Unless otherwise noted, all programs and screenings listed below are free, intended for adults, and take place at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center located at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza. Advance registration recommended online or in person at the Library's Welcome Desk. Visit for details.**

Thursday, February 25 @ 7pm
Shakespeare | For the Public
For the Public, NYPL's new collaborative arts series, returns to Lincoln Center for a celebration of Shakespeare's enduring power and relevance. Celebrated NYC poet Miles Hodges curates an evening of contemporary poems and stories about jealousy, interspersed with excerpts of plays and sonnets by Shakespeare on the same theme. Shakespeare's immortal words share the stage with today's most imaginative and incisive artists.

Wednesday, March 23 @ 7pm
The Public Theater Mobile Unit Shakespeare's ROMEO & JULIET Directed by Lear deBessonet
The Public's Mobile Unit is a reinvention of Joseph Papp's Mobile Shakespeare, which he began in 1957, evolving into the New York Shakespeare Festival and ultimately becoming The Public Theater. Joseph Papp, whose papers reside at The Library for the Performing Arts, had a simple idea-that Shakespeare belongs to everyone-and this idea remains at the heart of the Public Theater's work to this day. The Library hosts a special presentation of Romeo and Juliet by the Mobile Shakespeare Unit, along with a pop-exhibition of early Mobile Shakespeare artifacts from Joseph Papp papers.

Friday, April 1 @ 7pm
Shakespeare vs. Mozart: A Library Debate
Presented in collaboration with Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival
For four hundred years, western culture has continuously looked to Shakespeare to share the truth of the human condition. On the other hand, the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart miraculously captures the sublime and expresses the inexpressible. As the Library presents concurrent exhibitions celebrating the work of Shakespeare and of Mozart, the question must be answered - who is the greatest genius? In one corner: Shakespeare experts Michael Sexton of The Shakespeare Society and the New Yorker magazine's Adam Gopnik. In the other corner: Peter Hoyt and Michael Beckerman, Mozart defenders from the Mostly Mozart Festival and New York University. Each side will battle with competing evidence, utilizing live performances and historic materials from the Library's archives. Q2 Music's Brothers Balliett moderate this epic clash of titans.
This program also relates to the Library's upcoming exhibition Magical Designs from Mozart's Magic Flute.

Monday, April 11 @ 6pm
An Evening with Julie Taymor
During the 2015 holiday season, in movie theaters across the country, audiences marveled as The Magic Flute's three spirits soared upon the back of a glistening, feathered bird puppet. At Theater for a New Audience last season, Shakespeare's dream world came to life, as Puck and other sprites slid across gravity defying, giant silken sheets. In countless other brilliant projects, with puppetry, mime, light and shadows, Julie Taymor, award-winning director of theater and film, has made magic and myth seem real. As the Library celebrates both Shakespeare and Mozart's The Magic Flute, Taymor sits down with SITI Artistic Director Anne Bogart for a conversation about designing and directing theater, opera, and film. (Date subject to change.)
This program also relates to the Library's upcoming exhibition Magical Designs from Mozart's Magic Flute.

Tuesday, April 19 @ 7pm
As You Like It: A Brothers Balliett Shakespeare Party
The Brothers Balliett and a lively troupe of some of New York's most adventurous musicians come to the Library to lead an interactive group reading of As You Like It. Sit among a circle of instrumentalists and singers, and take a turn reading a scene from Shakespeare's beloved pastoral comedy, with an original soundtrack provided by Brad and Doug Balliett.

BBC Shakespeare Film Series
All films courtesy of BBC Worldwide North America

Tuesday, April 5 @ 2pm
As You Like It
Directed by Michael Elliott, Ronald Eyre. 140 minutes, 1963. Starring Vanessa Redgrave.

Tuesday, April 12 @ 2pm
King Lear
Directed by Ronald Eyre. 150 minutes, 1998. Starring Ian Holm.

Tuesday, April 26 @ 2pm
Taming of the Shrew
Part of the Shakespeare Retold series. Directed by David Richards. 90 minutes, 2005. Starring Shirley Henderson.

Tuesday, May 3 @ 2pm
Simon Schama: Shakespeare and Us
100 minutes, 2012. Featuring historian Simon Schama.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses one of the world's most extensive combinations of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections in its field. These materials are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, and performances. An essential resource for everyone with an interest in the arts - whether professional or amateur - the Library is known particularly for its prodigious collections of non-book materials such as historic recordings, videotapes, autograph manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, stage designs, press clippings, programs, posters and photographs. The Library is part of The New York Public Library system, which has 90 locations in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, and is a lead provider of free education for all.

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