• Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

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No holds Bard…visit of Shakespeares’ First Folio a great success!

Ayesha Dharker performing with students from Sacred Heart Catholic High SchoolA visit to Newcastle’s City Library by a copy of one of the world’s most famous books has proven popular with residents and local schools.

A rare version of Shakespeare’s First Folio was loaned to Newcastle by the British Library, a unique occurrence in itself, as this copy book hadn’t ventured outside of London in its prestigious history.

The six-week stay saw an influx of hundreds of curious library users from students to teachers and from local historians to tourists, all wanting to catch a glimpse of the 1000-page book, printed in 1623, that contains some of the literary and theatre world’s best loved plays.

Projects like displaying Shakespeare’s First Folio – which was one of the Library’s most popular and talked about exhibitions, ever – ideally reflects the ambitions of Newcastle Libraries and recent stats gathered by the library make for great reading:

Visitor numbers for Shakespeare’s First Folio went a long way towards the significant 9% increase of visits to the City Library over the past year. Another healthy statistic is the rise in the amount of eBooks and magazines borrowed annually which has increased by 58%, whilst overall City Library membership has increased by over 1,000 members (between 2015 – 2016).

Two local schools to benefit in different ways from the visit of the First Folio were Sacred Heart Catholic High School and St. Catherine’s RC Primary School.

Firstly, a group of students from Sacred Heart Catholic High School were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to star alongside the award-winning Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). They starred in the enchanting ‘Fairy Blessing’ scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which was hosted at Northern Stage in Newcastle. There was even a special sneak preview given to library visitors one lunchtime.

“At Sacred Heart Catholic High School we want all in our care to become courageous and confident young women, ready to make their mark in the world. We see the Arts, in all their forms, as an excellent way of achieving this goal, hence the girls are given a huge array of opportunities in their time here,” said Kerrie Palma, Head of Drama and Dance at Sacred Heart Catholic High School.

She continued: “We are immensely proud of our links with the RSC and truly grateful to them for giving our girls this opportunity. It was a privilege to be asked to perform at this rare exhibition and act on stage alongside their ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ company.”

Also, as part of the RSC Learning and performance network all children at St Catherine’s Primary School have been doing work based around ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. They organised visits to the City Library to see the Shakespeare exhibition, particularly his First Folio. This has further inspired pupils to recreate several scenes using a variety of expressive arts, including music, dance, crafts and drama. A selection of this work will be going on display in the Bewick Room at the City Library in June.

Anita Dent, teacher at St Catherine’s RC Primary School, said: “Children enjoyed their visit to the library and were particularly excited to see the Shakespeare exhibition. Instantly they found references to the play they are currently studying [A Midsummer Night’s Dream].”

Cabinet member for Communities and Facilities at Newcastle City Council, Cllr David Stockdale, said: “Being able to attract and display such a prestigious piece of literary history was a wonderful achievement for Newcastle Libraries. It has to rate up there as one of the best library conversation pieces ever, and provided residents, schools and community groups with fabulous resource.

“Newcastle Libraries works tirelessly to provide a wide selection of diverse events that not only inform but also entertain our library users.  This was ideally represented with the exclusive visit of the RSC – who delivered a special lunch-time performance alongside some young people from Sacred Heart Catholic High School.  The library service has a strong belief in partnership and catalyst working as it reaps the rewards of months and years of developing new and existing relationships with local, national and international groups.”

Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning at the British Library, said:  “It’s fantastic news that our copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio has been so popular with visitors to Newcastle City Library. It’s particularly special for us as this is the first time this copy has ever gone on loan, so a brand new audience has been able to see it in a hugely significant year for Shakespeare worldwide.

“We’re delighted to have been able to lend this item to Newcastle City Library as part of our work across the UK, and hope everyone who visited enjoyed seeing such an important object up-close.”

Here are some examples of the visitor feedback comments left by people who saw the First Folio.

“I knew little about the subject of Shakespeare, but now after going through the exhibition, I am better informed.”

“It has reminded me how much I enjoy Shakespeare’s work and made me want to pass that on to my children. We are off to take out a book on his stories for children!”

“Seen the First Folio – that was magical.  It sent a shiver of excitement down my spine. Please can we have more exhibitions like this?”

“It’s deepened my fascination with Shakespeare texts and actors.”

“Spellbound by seeing all these old books, especially the First Folio.”

“Seeing original documents and texts, with illuminating comments.”

“I’m even more excited about Shakespeare.”

For further information about Newcastle Libraries please visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/leisure-libraries-and-tourism/libraries on Face Book or Twitter @ToonLibraries

Support images: Please click the links below to download images to accompany the story.  They include an image of the RSC and young people from Sacred Heart Catholic High School plus a couple of images from the City Library’s recent Shakespeare exhibition.

By admin