When the Great Hall reopens in October, the first exhibit will show “the broad shifts in the theatrical production of Shakespeare’s plays over the centuries — and the sometimes surprising changes made to the texts,” Scott said.
But there is a small gem to see at the Folger before then.
A cozy alcove where the gift shop used to be has been transformed to display a copy of “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” signed by Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners while they were held on South Africa’s Robben Island during the 1970s. Sonny Venkatrathnam, who convinced a guard to let him keep the book with him, asked his fellow prisoners to sign their names next to passages of Shakespeare that particularly moved them. Visitors to the Folger can see the book opened to page showing Mandela’s signature alongside these lines from the Act II of “Julius Caesar”:
Cowards die many times before their deaths:
The valiant never taste of death but once