What is Shakespeare in Performance?
Shakespeare in Performance showcases rare and unique prompt books from the world-famous Folger Shakespeare Library. These prompt books tell the story of Shakespeare’s plays as they were performed in theatres throughout Great Britain, the United States and internationally, between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries.
Shakespeare in Performance goes behind the scenes to shine a light on how Shakespeare’s plays have been interpreted by theatre companies, actors and directors across the centuries. The collection features over 1,000 prompt books of 34 of Shakespeare’s plays, including editions owned by notable actors and directors such as Charles and John Philip Kemble, Henry Irving, Ellen Terry and Laurence Olivier.
Seventeen performances of particular cultural importance have been selected as case studies, including additional archival material such as photographs, costume designs and music scores. These case studies include David Garrick’s revised 1772 production of Hamlet, Henry Irving’s famous 1879 production of The Merchant of Venice, and Laurence Olivier’s Academy Award-winning cinema release of Hamlet in 1948.