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New exhibit celebrates Shakespeare’s ‘perenially interesting’ work

The Exhibit.'

William Shakespeare, the legendary Elizabethan playwright, has risen from the dead.

Not literally, of course, but several Shakespearean works and memorabilia from the theatrical production of his plays are scheduled to be showcased in the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library gallery in its “Year of Shakespeare: The Exhibit” beginning Wednesday.

The exhibition is one of several events taking place on campus this year to commemorate the first three years of an agreement between Ohio State and the Royal Shakespeare Company, based in the United Kingdom.

The Department of English, Department of Theatre, School of Music and the Wexner Center for the Arts are just a few of the OSU groups participating in the “Year of Shakespeare” and the “Young People’s Stand Up For Shakespeare Festival” events on campus this year.

“The exhibition is kicking off the ‘Year of Shakespeare,’ which is the celebration of the culmination of our (OSU and the RSC) first three-year partnership,” said Beth Kattelman, associate curator at the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute.

The compilation of Shakespeare’s works and mementos of productions that were inspired by the late playwright were composed of the collections of the Ohio State Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute and the accumulation of works and material between OSU and the RSC.

“I had a student working with me … who is the assistant to the curator,” Kattelman said. “We sat down and went through and talked about what kinds of things that we wanted to pull from our collections here at the Theatre Research Institute because we have just a ton of material.”

A lot of the material that will be showcased in the exhibit is beyond well-aged. One of the oldest pieces highlighted in the collection dates back to 1632, 16 years after Shakespeare’s death.

Among other written components of his work, the exhibit will feature old playbills and original costume designs, including a few by OSU alumna and Broadway theatrical designer Toni-Leslie James. They were featured in the 1998 New York Shakespeare Festival production of “Romeo and Juliet” starring actress Angela Bassett and actor Alec Baldwin.

“Shakespeare is of perennial interest to students and to people in general … people are talking about Shakespeare,” said Chris Highley, native of North England and professor of English 520.02: Shakespeare’s English History Plays.

“For me, I think displaying the books, many of which have title pages from the 17th century which include his name, I think helps to participate in this argument about who was Shakespeare,” he said. “I think it helps to redress some of the sort of eccentric theories that are out there. … Shakespeare is perennially interesting and entertaining. That’s basically why people enjoy Shakespeare, especially in the theater, because he is entertaining.”

“Year of Shakespeare: The Exhibit,” will be on display in the Thompson Library through April 29. There will be a reception on Thursday on the 11th floor of the Thompson Library from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. The reception is free and open to the public.

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