SHAKESPEARE'S STAGE IN AMERICA: THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE FOLGER ELIZABETHAN THEATRE
Alman, Elizabeth Forte
Hildy, Franklin J
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The Folger Shakespeare Library, a private research institution located in Washington, D.C., was founded by Henry and Emily Folger in 1932. The Folgers intended their memorial to William Shakespeare, a complex that includes a library, an exhibition hall and an Elizabethan-styled theatre, to promote research and the communication of that research to the citizenry. This study suggests the Folgers, influenced by the Elizabethan Revival movement, envisioned the Folger Elizabethan Theatre to be utilized as an important tool to extend the research function of the institution, a laboratory, of sorts, to further the type of performance research that William Poel, Nugent Monk, Harley Granville Barker, B. Iden Payne, and Ben Greet conducted in early modern production practices. Interestingly, however, performance research was not included as one of the Library's activities at its founding. The author identifies and examines a number of myths of origin about Henry and Emily Folger, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Folger Elizabethan Theatre, suggesting their promotion by Library officials and others has helped to obscure the Founders' original intent for the Folger Elizabethan Theatre. Drawing on archival research this study attempts to re-contextualize the early history of the Folger Elizabethan Theatre with that of the Folger Shakespeare Library.