For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development



PHILADELPHIA December 9, 2013— In 2014, the Free Library of Philadelphia, in partnership with The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre and numerous other cultural organizations from around the region, will present the Year of the Bard: Shakespeare at 450—a year packed full of engaging, enlightening, and entertaining programs and events designed to celebrate Shakespeare in all his classic and modern incarnations.

To kick off this celebratory year, the Free Library and The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre will present a special morning of musical and theatrical performances on Wednesday, January 8 at 10:30 a.m. that will give just a taste of the festivities to come throughout 2014. Students from West Philadelphia High School will perform a scene from their hip-hop iteration of one of Shakespeare’s plays, while actors from The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre will provide a more classic take on Romeo and Juliet. “The Bard” himself—William Shakespeare—will oversee the proceedings, and visitors will also be treated to the medieval musical stylings of a lute player.

Throughout 2014, the Year of the Bard will offer Shakespeare buffs and newcomers alike a plethora of fun, festive ways to get in on the celebration. Every month throughout the year will feature numerous activities, including lectures, an insult contest, digital and live exhibitions, pop-up and theatrical performances, and of course a big birthday bash on April 23. And don’t miss the specially brewed “Shakesbeer,” by Yards Brewing Company, at many of these parties and celebrations!

“William Shakespeare’s inimitable works have impacted English language, literature, and indeed the world at large,” said Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia. “We are so excited to partner with The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre and other great organizations to celebrate his rich legacy during the Year of the Bard and bring him to life with a modern take on his timeless plays and poems.”

Commented Carmen Khan, Artistic and Executive Director of The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre: “We are delighted to partner with the Free Library on this celebration of The Bard, arguably literature’s most iconic figure. Even now, Shakespeare’s exquisite verse continues to captivate audiences. It is our honor to be able to expose Philadelphia to Shakespeare’s work with this year-long tribute.”

The Year of the Bard: Shakespeare at 450 was inspired by one of the rarest and most unique holdings of the Rare Book Department at the Parkway Central Library: a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, published in 1623. Of the 750 First Folios that were originally printed, only 232 remain, and the Free Library’s copy is one of only 40 complete iterations in the world. The Rare Book Department also holds copies of the Second, Third, and Fourth Folios. These Folios and other unique items will be on display as part of Shakespeare For All Time, a new exhibition opening January 27, 2014, in the Rare Book Department.

In addition to the Shakespeare For All Time exhibition, other upcoming Year of the Bard: Shakespeare at 450 events include:

Project Meanwhile and the Shakespeare Forgeries at First Friday | January 3 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
In front of Christ Church | 20 N. American Street

Lend your opinion to the Project Meanwhile Collective as they prototype and test their design ideas for a new, interactive, one-of-a-kind theatrical performance based on the William Henry Ireland Shakespeare forgeries collection at The Rosenbach Museum & Library. Warm cider will be provided to participants.

Celebrate Twelfth Night! | January 5 at 2:00 p.m.
Northeast Regional Library | 2228 Cottman Avenue

Enjoy readings from Shakespeare’s comedy of secret identities and misplaced love, Elizabethan crafts, period music, and refreshments. Space is limited; advance tickets are required and can be picked up from the Children’s Department.

Hands-On Tour: Shaping Shakespeare | January 12, February 7, and March 2 at 3:00 p.m.
The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation | 2008-2010 Delancey Place

When is Shakespeare not Shakespeare? And what is a folio, anyway? After seeing some of the earliest printings and books that inspired Shakespeare’s plots, we'll explore how his plays have fared at the hands of actors, editors, and forgers. Visit for more details and registration info.

Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Traditions of Love and Desire | January 15 at 6:00 p.m.
The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre | 2111 Sansom Street | Tickets: $20

This lively presentation features Dr. Katherine Rowe, who will lead a lecture and field audience questions. Dr. Rowe will speak alongside live demonstrations to pair two of Shakespeare’s sonnets with their origin: the love poems of the great Italian poet Francesco Petrarch and his translator, Sir Thomas Wyatt. The presentation culminates with a dissection and alternate readings of Romeo and Juliet’s shared sonnet.

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar |February 6 – March 16, 2014
Lantern Theater Company | St. Stephen’s Theater | 10th and Ludlow Streets |Tickets starting at $10

Idealism, envy, and power politics collide as the Roman Republic reaches a crisis. Caesar's political genius, military prowess, and overwhelming popular appeal make him the most powerful leader the Republic has ever known. But his popularity breeds suspicion among his rivals and some fear Caesar's power will corrode the freedom of the State. Shakespeare's vision of Rome is both epic and intimate, from powerful speeches in grand public squares to whispered conspiracies in back rooms and dark hallways. There in the shadows, unlikely alliances set up a chain of events that bring down the great Caesar and thrust Rome into a disastrous civil war.

Animated Shakespeare Family Film Series | February 10 at 4:30 p.m.
Roxborough Library | 6245 Ridge Avenue

Enjoy a screening of the animated classic The Lion King, which was inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Making Shakespearean Masks | February 24 at 3:30 p.m.
David Cohen Ogontz Library | 6017 Ogontz Avenue

Craft your very own Shakespeare-inspired masks using simple materials found at home.

Shakespeare Trivia with Bob | March 12 at 6:30 p.m.
Parkway Central Library | 1901 Vine Street

It’s all Shakespeare, all the time at this special round of the Free Library’s beloved Trivia with Bob!

Beware the Ides of March! | March 15 at 2:00 p.m.
Chestnut Hill Library | 8711 Germantown Avenue

Enjoy a celebration of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, featuring a toga party (BYOT: Bring Your Own Toga!) and a Shakespearean feast. Children in fifth grade and above are welcome.

Romeo and Juliet | April 4 – May 18, 2014
The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre | 2111 Sansom Street | Tickets starting at $10

Take the tempestuous journey of young love in Shakespeare's classic tale of these star-crossed lovers. Follow Romeo and Juliet, as they fall desperately in love and battle against the odds of their constantly warring families and the inauthentic ideals of a mechanized society.

Many Free Library of Philadelphia locations will be hosting film screenings, craft sessions, and more, in addition to those listed above, and additional events will continue to be added throughout the year. For up-to-date details, including times and locations for these and other events, please visit

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About the Free Library of Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity. The Free Library system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than 6 million in-person and 9 million online visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.

About The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre
Since 1996, The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre has produced over 40 Shakespeare productions through fresh, muscular, and vivid interpretations that have at their center the actor and the playwright. Along with annual productions of works written by William Shakespeare, The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre’s decade-long Open Door Project offers state-of-the-art Shakespeare programming to high school and middle school students including student matinees, Artist-in-Residence, and professional touring productions. We have served over 70,000 students in the Philadelphia region. We also offer a Shakespeare in the World lecture and performance series. The Classical Acting Academy offers professional training for early career actors, classes for adults and teens, a summer Shakespeare camp, and free performances to the public each summer.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850