This Friday lunchtime, March 18th, visitors to Newcastle’s City Library will be in for a real cultural treat, as two actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will be performing a scene from William Shakespeare’s well-loved comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
The free enactment will be taking place at 1pm in the Library’s atrium with some special guests from Sacred Heart Catholic High School. The scene will be taken from “The Fairy Blessing” part of the play with the actors being Ayesha Dharker (playing Titania) and Chu Omambala (playing Oberon).
Everything holds extra significance as the City Library currently has a copy ofShakespeare’s First Folio on display. It is the first time this particular copy has ever ventured outside of the British Library which is a real coup for Newcastle.
The special RSC performance will be accompanied by a talk by the Company’s Deputy Artistic Director, Erica Whyman – who was formerly Artistic Director at Northern Stage; with an introduction being made by Cllr Stephen Powers followed by a few words from Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning at the British Library.
Councillor Stephen Powers, cabinet secretary at Newcastle City Council, said: “Our City Library is a really exciting place to visit. Who would’ve thought that in the same month the library would have appearances from one of the world’s most famous books and one of the world’s most famous theatre companies. We greatly thank the British Library and the RSC for their kind gestures.
“The work of William Shakespeare is universal in the way it can appeal to so many different people from across the generations. We are very lucky this book will be made available by Newcastle Libraries to residents, students and visitors – who wouldn’t normally have access to this kind of unique cultural experience.”
Erica Whyman, RSC Deputy Artistic Director, and director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation, said: “I’m delighted that Shakespeare’s First Folio is on display at Newcastle City Library, giving everyone the chance to see this important book. I’m especially pleased that the Folio’s visit to the North East coincides with our special production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which runs at Northern Stage 16-26 March.
“Whilst in Newcastle, our production features 18 professional actors, 60 local schoolchildren – from Sacred Heart Catholic High School and St Michael’s Roman Catholic Primary School – and 2 amateur companies, People’s Theatre from Newcastle, and The Castle Players from Barnard Castle, who will play Shakespeare’s ‘Mechanicals’. This celebration of Shakespeare is one of the ways in which the RSC is marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The Folio will be open on a page from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I can’t wait to take a closer look.”
Kerrie Palma, Head of Drama and Dance at Sacred Heart Catholic High School, said: “At Sacred Heart Catholic High School 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. We are immensely proud of our links with the RSC, the training and workshops offered to staff and students throughout this process have been world class.
“We are truly grateful to them for giving our girls the opportunity, to rehearse and act on stage alongside their ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ company in 2016. We are also looking forward to being part of the event at Newcastle Library to celebrate the First Folio being on display.”
The copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio will be on show on Level 6 of Newcastle’s City Library until Sunday 24th April – it will be free to enter with the City Library being openMonday to Thursday from 8.30am to 8pm / Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm / Saturday 9.30am to 5.30pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm. The famous book has been kindly lent to the City Library by the British Library and will be left open at the start of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
People can find further information about Newcastle Libraries’ by visiting the ‘leisure, libraries and tourism’ pages of the City Council’s official website www.newcastle.gov.uk
A great online resource about the First Folio can be found on the British Libraries’ website www.bl.uk/collection-items/
The legendary RSC will be bringing their touring production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation” to Northern Stage in Newcastle from Wed 16 to Sat 26 March; with some special appearances being made by young performers from Sacred Heart Catholic High School and St Michael’s Roman Catholic Primary School. Tickets are on sale priced from £16 to £29.50 and can be bought online at www.northernstage.co.ukor from the Theatre’s box office 0191 230 5151.