Shakespeare's First Folio: 1623–2023

Nov. 3, 2023–May 4, 2024
Days Vary
Cost: Cost Varies
Various Locations

The following description was submitted by the event organizer.

It’s difficult to imagine now, but when William Shakespeare died in 1616, over half of his plays had never been published. As a playwright, actor, and shareholder in his theater company, Shakespeare was, above all, a man of the stage, and there is no evidence to suggest that he sought to preserve his playwriting legacy in print. In 1623, however, a syndicate of friends and colleagues compiled 36 of Shakespeare’s plays into a single volume — the First Folio. Without the publication of the First Folio, we would have no Macbeth, no Julius Caesar, no Twelfth Night, and no As You Like It. Like many plays performed during the English Renaissance, much of Shakespeare’s work would have been lost to time. 

Shakespeare’s First Folio: 1623–2023 commemorates the 400th anniversary of a single but extraordinary book. In partnership with Portland State University and other arts organizations, the First Folio celebration features an exhibition, a speaker series, and performances of Shakespearean drama, opera, music, and film. These citywide events will familiarize you with the distant culture of Shakespeare’s world. They will also explore how the Folio plays raise questions that evoke our contemporary public debates. In Shakespeare’s plays, for example, who gets a say in how government works? What kinds of gender roles do his characters perform? How did race and ethnicity shape identity? What can the challenges of bubonic plague in Shakespeare’s day teach us about public health crises such as COVID–19?

Beyond the enduring stories and memorable characters, the most compelling quality of Shakespeare’s plays is that they provoke audiences to wrestle with difficult questions without providing definitive answers. These provocations are why the Folio plays resonate so powerfully across diverse communities and across time. Shakespeare’s First Folio: 1623–2023 invites you to explore the important questions inspired by Shakespearean stories — and to discover how those stories might coincide with your own.

The official hotel of Shakespeare's First Folio: 1623–2023, the Mark Spencer Hotel was originally established in 1907 as a home away from home for traveling theater performers and celebrities looking for a stylish hotel close to the city’s theater district, a mission that it continues to foster with well-appointed accommodations, excellent services, and an unbeatable location. Please contact 503-224-3293 to book a room at a special rate.

Upcoming Dates & Times

Monday, Dec. 11
Friday, Jan. 12
Saturday, Jan. 13
Saturday, Jan. 27
Friday, Feb. 2
Saturday, Feb. 3
Sunday, Feb. 4
Thursday, Feb. 8
Friday, Feb. 9
Saturday, Feb. 10
Sunday, Feb. 11
Thursday, Feb. 15
Sunday, Feb. 18
Saturday, Feb. 24
Thursday, Feb. 29
Friday, Mar. 1
…and more dates through May. 4
More dates & times