On April 23rd, Mayflower Bookshop commemorated 400 years since the first Folio was published, as well as the Bard’s death and (probable) birthday.

The first Folio, the first time all Shakespeare’s plays were published collectively, is the main source for almost half of Shakespeare’s plays including Macbeth and the Tempest.

The festival kicked off with a short introduction on the First Folio, followed by a fascinating lecture by Wim Tigges on travesty in Shakespeare: in Shakespeare’s day, all female parts  were performed by male actors; however, if the character in its turn disguised herself as a man, this must have led to hilarious situations, as Tigges described many instances, confusing a 17th century audience more than a modern audience, although many in the audience lost track of the many changes Tigges described, knowledgeable as ever on his subject. This lecture was followed by a performance of a scene from the comedy ‘The merry wives of Windsor’ played by Esther Straathof and  Suze Hageman (Mayflower Theatre Company), who gave a hilarious performance of mistresses Ford and Page under the direction of house director Sigrid de Zwart.

Next on the programme was a lecture by Leo van Zanen, accompanied by Willem Vermaase. Leo not only talked on his favorite subject, the sonnet, but sang to Willem Vermaase’s instrument a number of medieval songs and sonnets set to music.

At 3 o’clock, a group of speakers and attendees set out to wallpoem Sonnet 30, at the corner of Rapenburg and Houtstraat for the annual commemoration ritual, where Mayflower’s Freek Bouricius read the poem in its original English and Leo van Zanen in the Dutch translation, after which a small bouquet was places near the poem.

Back at Mayflower Bookshop, anglicist and lawyer Tony Foster, held a wonderful and original talk on the trial in Merchant of Venice, comparing the law in Shakespeare’s day to Dutch law and modern British law, alternately as himself and as Antonio, one of the characters of the play. We hope to see and hear more of Tony at Mayflower Bookshop.

The festival finished with an ominous performance of Simme van de Lustgraaf and Freek Bouricius (Mayflower Shakespeare Company) of two scenes from the tragedy Macbeth, as Lord and Lady Macbeth under the inspired direction of guest-director Herman Duchenne.

The audience was unanimous in their praise: a varied and fascinating festival, highlighting many aspects of Shakespeare’s work!

Leave a comment