America's Shakespeare – The Bard Goes West

America’s Shakespeare: The Bard Goes West commemorates 400 years of William Shakespeare’s legacy by exploring his persistent impact on American life.

Taking as its core the Folger Shakespeare Library’s exhibition, “America’s Shakespeare,” this show will give additional insight into the playwright’s absorption into California’s history and culture. The centerpiece of the exhibit is a First Folio (1623) from the Folger’s Shakespeare collection – the largest of its kind in the world – in addition to documents and artifacts showing Shakespeare’s emigration from England to the colonies; his absorption into our political rhetoric during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars; his subsequent literary and theatrical travels west; and his continuing influence on our language, literature, and media today. The Bard Goes West will also draw on the collections of state and local resources to show Shakespeare’s presence in the grand 19th century theaters of San Francisco and Sacramento, the saloons and hotels of the mining camp towns, and the early film industry in Los Angeles.

Exhibition runs from November 17th through February 26th, 2017. 



Check out the various events presented by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Public Library

December 6 – 11, 2016

Forced Entertainment Complete Works Table Top Shakespeare

36 micro-performances for limited audiences at Royce Hall Stage

January 19, 2017

Shakespeare Now: Race, Justice, and the American Dream

Peter Sellars
In conversation with Ayanna Thompson, Professor of English, George Washington University
From expressions of black rage to the challenges facing systems of justice, renowned theatre director Peter Sellars and scholar Ayanna Thompson illustrate the ways Shakespeare remains relevant in our contemporary American world.

February 16, 2017

Shakespeare in Today’s America

James Shapiro and Lisa Wolpe
In conversation
Who gets to see Shakespeare and act in his plays? Celebrating the 400th anniversary of his extraordinary legacy, two Shakespeare aficionados guide us through an enlightening journey of what this master means to us today.

Shakespeare in SoCal

Check out this map showing references to Shakespeare – or venues where Angelenos can catch one of his plays –spotted around town. Explore local Bard-inspired spots, from historical references, such as “Shakespeare Beach” (now Hermosa Beach), to references that live on, like “Shakespeare Bridge” in Los Feliz, or the tailor on La Cienega named “Richard the Thread”.

Know of any references or venues that we missed?
Email [email protected] to pin your favorite Shakespeare spots to the map!

Joss Whedon on Shakespeare

What compelled renowned director Joss Whedon to film an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing in his home on a shoestring budget immediately after completing the Hollywood blockbuster, The Avengers? Find out in this exclusive interview filmed in the Rare Books room at the Central Library.


America’s Shakespeare: The Bard Goes West was curated by Stephen Dickey, UCLA Senior Lecturer.

America’s Shakespeare was on display at the Folger Shakespeare Library from April 7 – July 24, 2016 and was curated by Georgianna Ziegler, the Folger’s Louis B. Thalheimer Associate Librarian and Head of Reference Emerita.

This exhibition would not have been possible without the generous contributions of Dwight and Julie Anderson, Debi and Norris Bishton, Robert Dawson, Darren Jackson and Tatiana Small, Judith Krantz, Gwen Miller, and The Honorable R. Carlton Seaver and Laura Stern.

With gratitude to John F. Szabo, City Librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library, and to Dr. Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Special thanks to John Cooke, Pamela and Mark Mischel, Francoise Rozzell, Loretta Savery, and Susan and Geoff Wharton.

Exhibition design by Annex Design Services.

The exhibition team: Erin Donovan, Shar Huston, Ann Marshall, Lisa Richardson, Emma Thorne-Christy, Debi van Zyl.

Our colleagues at the Central Library: David Aguirre, Bob Anderson, Ani Boyadjian, Brenda Breaux, Jéné Brown, Madeline Bryant, Mark Carreon, Cheryl Collins, Joyce Cooper, Kim Creighton, Christa Dietrick, Tom Jung, Eileen King, Kren Malone, Eva Mitnick, Paul Montgomerie, Rob Morales, Xochitl Oliva, Diane Olivo-Posner, Madeline Peña, Madeleine Rackley, Christina Rice, Eloisa Sarao, James Sherman, Selena Terrazas, and Wendy Westgate.

At the Folger Shakespeare Library: Michael Witmore, Daniel DeSimone, Caroline Bedinger, Adrienne Bell, Rhea DeStefano, Eric Johnson, Kate Long, Renate Mesmer, Austin Plann-Curley, Garland Scott, and Sloane Whidden.

Additional thanks: Marilyn Anderson, Laura Belani, Jessica Bergman, Gina Bloom, Lisa Callif, Julia Carnahan, Kathy Correia, Bill Deverell, Kristy Edmunds, Matt Fuller, Ljiljana Grubisic, Linda Harris Mehr, Louise Hilton, Ellen Jarosz, Lana Johnson, Patricia Keats, Miles Kreuger, Deborah Landis, Julie Lee, Gary Leonard, Greg Lucas, Billie Lyons, Larry McQueen, Bob Myman, Linda Plochocki, Veri Pontes, Diana Rosen, Brett Service, Bruce R. Smith, Terry Taylor, Faye Thompson, Monika Trobits, Jenny Watts, Katelyn Welch, Joss Whedon, John Zalewski, Kim Zanti, and David Zeidberg.


For general inquiries, contact the Library Foundation of Los Angeles at 213.228.7500, or [email protected].
For press inquiries please contact Leah Price at [email protected].