Folger Theatre performs a season of innovative productions designed to forge strong connections with modern audiences, continuing the lively legacy of William Shakespeare. While Shakespeare's plays are central to its mission, Folger Theatre has produced a variety of other classical works, as well as new plays related to the Folger collection or inspired by Shakespeare. Folger Shakespeare Library, opened in 1932, featured the first replica in North America of an Elizabethan theater, a 250-seat space designed to suggest the innyard playing spaces. Founders Henry and Emily Folger envisioned it as a place for the performance of the plays in Shakespeare’s style, and the first nationally televised broadcast of a Shakespeare play in the US was Julius Caesar from the Folger stage in 1949. Folger Theatre produces seasons of Shakespeare, other plays from the period of the Folger’s rare collection, and new work, including commissions, inspired by the period. Including award-winning stagings of more than 70 percent of Shakespeare’s canon, as well as classical and Restoration work, Folger Theatre premiered the original Shakespeare for My Father, Lynn Redgrave’s reminiscence of her theatrical family, as well as Roger Rees’ What You Will; co-produced Teller and Aaron Posner’s magical Macbeth, released on video; was the first Washington venue to present a production from Shakespeare’s Globe; and has collaborated with the Classical Theatre of Harlem, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Guthrie, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, and other theaters across the country. Folger Theatre is the recipient of 30 Helen Hayes Awards including for Outstanding Resident Production for Sense and Sensibility, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, and Measure for Measure.
Stay up to date with Folger Theatre on Facebook or for further information, visit the Folger Theatre blog, The Folger Spotlight. If you miss a performance, listen to five plays performed by Folger Theatre available as Folger Audio Editions through Simon & Schuster on audio CD or as a download.
About Folger Theatre
Led since 1991 by Artistic Producer Janet Alexander Griffin, Folger Theatre has staged more than half of the plays in Shakespeare’s First Folio.
Highlights from Folger Theatre’s producing history include numerous Helen Hayes Awards nominations and wins. Nominees for outstanding resident play: Sense and Sensibility (2016): recipient, The Taming of the Shrew (Folger Theatre, 2012): recipient, Hamlet (Folger Theatre, 2010): recipient, Henry VIII (Folger Theatre, 2010), Arcadia (Folger Theatre, 2009) Macbeth (Folger Theatre, 2008), Measure for Measure (Folger Theatre, 2006): recipient, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Folger Theatre, 2004), Melissa Arctic (Folger Theatre, 2004), She Stoops to Conquer (Folger Theatre, 2002), Shakespeare’s R & J (Folger Theatre, 2000), Much Ado About Nothing (Folger Theatre, 1998), and Romeo and Juliet (Folger Theatre, 1997).
In collaboration, Folger Theatre produced with The Classical Theatre of Harlem a sell-out King Lear (Folger Theatre, 2007) starring André DeShields, with Two River Theater Company staged two productions—a magical Macbeth (Folger Theatre, 2008) co-directed by Teller and Aaron Posner and the world premiere of Anne Washburn’s adaptation Orestes, A Tragic Romp (Folger Theatre, 2010)— and with Fiasco Theatre produced The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Fiasco Theater, 2014). Folger Theatre has also partnered with Shakespeare's Globe, London to mount productions of Hamlet (Shakespeare's Globe, 2012), Hamlet (Shakespeare's Globe, 2014), and King Lear (Shakespeare's Globe, 2014).
Exhibitions at the Folger inspire memorable productions like David Garrick’s The Clandestine Marriage (Folger Theatre, 2005), Maxwell Anderson’s Elizabeth the Queen (Folger Theatre, 2003) which starred Michael Learned, and Henry VIII (Folger Theatre, 2010). Cross-disciplinary projects with Folger Consort—such as The Second Shepherds' Play: A Medieval Mystery for the Yuletide Season (2007, 2016), Brave New World: Music of the Tempest (2014), Measure+Dido (2016), and Purcell’s The Fairy Queen (2007) with Sir Derek Jacobi, Richard Clifford, and Lynn Redgrave—take advantage of the Folger’s unique resources. Folger Theatre not only produces Shakespeare’s classics but is also a stage for new plays, including Theresa Rebeck The Way of the World, Texts&beheadings/ElizabethR, the Reduced Shakespeare Company's William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged), Roger Rees’ What You Will: By and About the Bard (Folger Theatre, 2007) and Lynn Redgrave’s Shakespeare for My Father (Folger Shakespeare Library, 1991) and Rachel and Juliet: An Evening with Lynn Redgrave (Folger Theatre, 2009).
For more information about the Folger Theatre's performance space, read our article on the Folger's Elizabethan Theatre.
About the Artistic Producer
Janet Griffin has been Director of Public Programs for the Folger Shakespeare Library since 1992. She has produced 85 plays, including 30 Shakespeare plays, for which Folger Theatre has been recognized with 146 nominations and 30 awards for excellence in acting, direction, design, and production from Washington's Helen Hayes Awards. Among new work she has developed at Folger was Lynn Redgrave’s solo show, Shakespeare for My Father, which in final development toured internationally and earned Redgrave a Tony Award. Responsible for the Folger Shakespeare Library’s season of performing arts and cultural events, she has overseen the growth of the Folger Consort early music series and developed contemporary literature and lectures at Folger, including the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series and Folger’s partnership with the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, bringing the country's most renowned writers to the Washington, DC area.
Folger Theatre employs members of Actors' Equity Association, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and United Scenic Artists. It is a member of Blue Star Theatres, Cultural Tourism DC, CulturalCapital, theatreWashington, Theatre Communications Group, and Shakespeare Theatre Association.
- 1 Henry IV (2019) September - October, 2019
- Amadeus (2019) November - December, 2019
- The Merry Wives of Windsor (2020) January - March, 2020
- Davenant's Macbeth (2018) September, 2018
- King John (2018) October - December, 2018
- Nell Gwynn (2019) January - March, 2019
- Confection (2019) March, 2019
- Love's Labor's Lost (2019) April - June, 2019
- Saint Joan(2018) May - June, 2018
- The Winters Tale(2018) March - April, 2018
- The Way of the World(2018) January - February, 2018
- Antony and Cleopatra(2017) October - November, 2017
- Timon of Athens (2017) May - June, 2017
- As You Like It (2017) January - March, 2017
- Sense and Sensibility (2016) September - October, 2016
- District Merchants (2016) May 31 - July 3, 2016
- William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (Abridged) (2016) April 21 - May 8, 2016
- A Midsummer Night's Dream (2016) January 26 - March 13, 2016
- Pericles (2015) November 13 - December 20, 2015
- texts&beheadings/ElizabethR (Compagnia de'Colombari, 2015) September 19 - October 4, 2015
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (2015) May 12- June 28, 2015
- Mary Stuart(2015) January 27- March 8, 2015
- Julius Caesar (2014) October 28- December 7, 2014
- King Lear (Shakespeare's Globe, 2014) September 5-21, 2014
- Hamlet (Shakespeare's Globe, 2014) July 25-26, 2014