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Kapiʻolani Community College has been selected as the host site in Hawaiʻi for First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, a national traveling exhibition of one of the world’s most treasured books. The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring the First Folio to all 50 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico to commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

Published seven years after his death in 1616, this monumental volume was assembled from plays owned by the company of actors Shakespeare worked with, especially two of his friends, and printed in his memory. Of the 233 copies of the First Folio that survive today, 82 are in the Folger Library in Washington, D.C. One of those rare volumes will be arriving this April at Kapiʻolani CC.

First Folio flyer

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“One of our goals is to alert people to Shakespeare-related events taking place in our local community,” said Associate Professor Mark Lawhorn, Hawaiʻi First Folio project director. “Visit our website and you will find an extensive calendar of performances and other activities. For many people this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to come within inches of one of the most influential books in history.”

Exploring Shakespeare’s impact

Valerie Wayne, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa emerita professor of English, notes that one does not have to worship Shakespeare to recognize ways that his work is culturally and historically significant. “Shakespeare doesn’t matter because he’s a monument to be preserved or a genius to which we’re obligated to pay homage in order to maintain a cultured society; or because he has ‘universal’ appeal or wisdom to impart,” said Wayne. “He matters because, given his iconic status, he is constantly being restaged and rethought and remade into someone who speaks to our present moment.”

The First Folio will be opened to the most quoted line from Shakespeare, “to be or not to be” from Hamlet. Accompanying the book will be a six-panel exhibition exploring Shakespeare’s impact, then and now, along with interactive, digital activities.

Multiple translations of Hamlet’s most famous speech will be on display, including a rendering of the speech into Hawaiian by Professor Puakea Nogelmeier, who pointed out “for the sake of humor” when asked to attempt the daunting task, “There is no term for ‘to be’ in Hawaiian.”

Exhibit information

The First Folio!: The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare exhibition runs from April 25–May 25, 2016 in Lama Library, second floor. A few significant moments in the history of Shakespeare in Hawaiʻi will be presented concurrently in the library’s lobby on the first floor and titled, Shakespeare Comes to Hawaiʻi.

Visitation hours are Monday–Thursday, 2–6:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

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