It’s one of the premier artifacts of Western Civilization — the First Folio, a collection of Williams Shakespeare’s plays that were printed seven years after his death in 1616.
There are only 235 known copies in existence. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is sending 19 of its 82 folios to one location in each state to mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death. And the visit also comes just in time to celebrate the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s 40th anniversary.
Nearly 1,000 people came to the BSU Yanke Family Research Center on Saturday to view the book and its surrounding exhibit that includes a retrospective of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, a collection of 17th century books from the collection of David and Nancy Leroy as well as printing artifacts and books about Shakespeare, his work and times.
Boise State archivist Gwyn Hervochon applied and won the opportunity to bring the Folio to Boise back in 2014.
“When I saw the call, I literally jumped out of my chair at the library,” she said during her opening remarks. “Just think of all the art, theater, music, films, life experiences we all share that are related to Shakespeare. None of them would have happened had it not been for this book.”
You can see the Folio and its exhibit 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, noon-5 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 5), Saturday, Aug. 20, to Wednesday, Sept. 21, Boise State University’s Arts and Humanities Institute Gallery, Yanke Family Research Center, 220 ParkCenter Blvd., Boise. Free.
▪ Read Boise Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tony Doerr’s essay on Shakespeare’s First Folio here.
▪ Read more about the First Folio visit and watch a video on how actors use the Folio here.
First Folio Events
Events are free and at the Yanke Family Research Center, 220 ParkCenter Blvd., unless otherwise noted. Learn more at here.
▪ Tuesday, Aug. 23, 7 p.m.: Idaho Shakespeare Festival founding Artistic Director Doug Copsey and founding company members discuss will share their story of the festival’s roots.
▪ Wednesday, Aug. 24, 7 p.m.: Idaho Scholar Talks: “Ha Ha Hamlet: Parodies, Pop-Culture and the Prince of Denmark” by Boise State University associate professor Matt Hansen.
▪ Thursday, Aug. 25, 9-11 p.m.: Film screening of “10 Things I Hate About You,” the 1999 adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew,” outdoors at the BSU Student Union Building Intramural Field (on campus). Bring a lawn chair.
▪ Friday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m.: Idaho Scholar Talks: “Mind Your F’s and Q’s!: Exploring Early Editions of Romeo and Juliet” by Idaho State University English professor Jessica Winston.
▪ Saturday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Boise Public Library Comic Con at the main branch will feature a display of Shakespeare-related graphic novels.
▪ Monday, Aug. 29, 7 p.m.: Film screening of 1996 “Romeo + Juliet,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, with an introduction by BSU Theatre Chair and ISF company member Richard Klautsch at The Flicks, 646 Fulton St., Boise ($7 at the box office).
▪ Thursday, Sept. 1, 7 p.m.: First Folio keynote speech by University of Nevada professor and author Eric Rasmussen. about his part in the discovery of the Saint-Omer First Folio, an event that went viral.
▪ Thursday, Sept. 1, 6:30-8 p.m.: First Thursday at the Boise Public Library’s main branch will features some First Folio events.
▪ Friday, Sept. 2, 10:30 a.m., and Saturday, Sept. 3, 2 p.m.: “To Bee or Not To Bee” puppet show at Boise Public Library’s main branch.
▪ Tuesday, Sept. 6, 13, and 20, 10 a.m.-noon: “Shakespeare’s World” by BSU history professor Lisa McClain for Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning. Register at ExtendedStudies.BoiseState.edu/osher.
▪ Friday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m.: Idaho Scholar Talks: “The Economy of Nature: Human and Non-Human Forces in Shakespeare’s King Lear and Timon of Athens,” by Lewis-Clark State College assistant professor Peter Remien.
▪ Monday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m.: Idaho Scholar Talks: “All the World’s A Stage Direction: Shakespeare’s First Folio for Actors” by BSU theater professor Gordon Reinhart.
▪ Wednesday, Sept. 14, 6- 8:30 p.m.: Film screening: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” 1935, staring James Cagney, Dick Powell and Olivia de Havilland. Boise Public Library, main branch.
▪ Friday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m.: Idaho Scholar Talks: “Shakespeare’s Typeface: Fonts from the First Folio to the 21st Century,” Idaho State University professor Curtis Whittaker.
▪ Saturday, Sept. 17, 1-5 p.m.: First Folio Family Day with performances, activities, including Matt Hansen’s “Shake It Up After School,” a performance by sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
▪ Wednesday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m.: “Our Revels Now Are Ended” wrap-up of the Folio events that includes a panel discussion about how the folio came to Boise and a performance of Idaho Dance Theatre’s “Friends and Lovers,” performed to spoken Shakespearean text and poetry.