As an English major at Georgetown University, I was delighted to go to a performance of a Shakespeare play -- I don't recall which one -- in the beautiful Elizabethan theatre at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill. Since then the Shakespeare Theatre Company has moved to Penn Quarter, but the Folger continues to put on exhibits, plays, and musical performances.
The Folger Consort is a chamber music ensemble, performing music from the twelfth through eighteenth centuries. This week it celebrates Valentine's Day with "Seven Songs of Love," a program of love songs from the 13th Century, running February 15 to 17:
A rich and varied assortment of lyric song including the Gallician poet/singer Martin Codax's Seven Songs of Love, Western Europe's first song cycle. Treating love in all its guises, the songs of the troubadours and lively dances for fiddles, harps, citole, and percussion celebrate the joy of love requited.
In April, fans of Scotland and Shakespeare will have a treat in store with "Highland Ayres":
Macbeth's enchanted homeland has a fascinating musical tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. This trove of Scottish riches -- traditional and courtly, simple and sophisticated -- is explored with medieval accounts of battle, songs from the 16th and 17th centuries, distinctive Scottish music for pipes and fiddle, and music from the French allies of the Scots, preserved only in Edinburgh.
This musical event, running April 18 to 20, complements the Folger Theatre's production of Macbeth, which runs from February 28 to April 13. Here's an interesting tidbit about the play: one of its directors is Teller, of Penn & Teller, and includes magic designed by him. (P.S. Teller is the quiet one.) For those of you up in New Jersey, the play is running at the Two River Theater Company in Redbank until February 17.
This exhibit considers the ways in which the early modern British made, and remade, their own history. "Making History" focuses on how key events, such as the controversial execution of Mary Queen of Scots or the murderous Gunpowder Plot, were interpreted in the period, as well as on crucial ideas that helped shaped those interpretations.
It also examines some of the period's most important figures, both real (Charles I) and imaginary (Shakespeare's Falstaff), and the roles they played in the making of British Renaissance history.
"History in the Making" is on display in the Folger Great Hall until May 17, Monday through Saturday, from 10 am to 5 pm.