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William Shakespeare comes to UNLV with antique pages and fresh beats

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Spend some time with Bill’s big book.
Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth

The first compilation of William Shakespeare’s works came out seven years after his death. The 1623 First Folio, assembled by two of Shakespeare’s friends, includes 36 of the Bard’s plays, including such chart-topping hits as Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night and The Tempest. It was a small press run—researchers believe that only 750 copies of the First Folio were printed, of which fewer than 250 survive today. And thanks to the Folger Shakespeare Library and UNLV, one of those very rare compilations is coming to Las Vegas.

First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, an exhibition featuring the book and a number of panels explaining it, is on display at UNLV’s Lied Library through September 29. It’s the only place you can see the Folio in Nevada, and UNLV is making the most of it with a month of related events that includes performances, lectures, workshops and a hip-hop adaptation of The Comedy of Errors, the appropriately named Bomb-itty of Errors, staged by Nevada Conservatory Theatre. As the Bard totally might have said, we’ll take a minute to let that sink in.

It might seem on its face like a Hamilton-ian stunt, but Bomb-itty of Errors, onstage at the Judy Bayley Theatre through September 11, has some genuine Shakespearean steez: Director Christopher Edwards served as associate artistic director of New York’s Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival for 14 years, so you can expect something more reverent than actors spitting Elizabethan rhymes over a live DJ (though Bomb-itty of Errors promises to have exactly that, too).

Expect a production that respects the weight of theatrical tradition, while making light of it. In a way, that was how Shakespeare himself rolled. It’s kind of amazing Shakespeare’s friends didn’t name the First Folio Now That’s What I Call Macbeth!

First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare Through September 29, free. UNLV’s Lied Library, 702-895-2111.

Bomb-Itty of Errors September 2-4 & 8-11, times vary, $28-$33. UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre, 702-895-2787.

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