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Allen's gift is history's gain

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is once again the recipient — of the 1623 Dryden-Puleston-Bemis copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, "Comedies, — Histories, & Tragedies, Published according to the True Originall Copies." —

The book is on display through September, through the — courtesy of investor and philanthropist Paul G. Allen. This complete Folio — is one of the two finest copies remaining in private hands.

The Folio is on loan and resides at the festival in a — special room in the New Theatre where patrons may view the Folio on Thursdays — from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Sept. 30. Tickets are $3 and available — on-line and at the Box Office.

An informational exhibit has been placed in the viewing — room for visitors. Panels explain the differences between the Folios and — Quartos, the printing process and the history of this particular Folio. — A brochure with the same information is also available.

In addition to viewing the Folio, the public has the opportunity — to hear OSF Shakespeare Dramaturg and actor Barry Kraft present a lecture, — "An Exploration and Viewing of a Rare Copy of the Original First Folio: — the 1623 Collection of Shakespeare's Plays,'' at noon in Carpenter Hall — on Friday. Tickets are $7 for the general public, $6 for members and $5.25 — for youth (6-17).

''Throughout my life I have always had a deep interest — in and passion for the works of William Shakespeare,'' said Allen. ''The — Oregon Shakespeare Festival has always been an important organization — for my family since we first went to Ashland together when I was a teenager — and my sister Jody Patton continues to represent us on the festival board. — The Shakespeare Folio has great cultural value and I am honored to be — able to make it available for educational and interpretive purposes to — the community, and the thousands of Shakespeare enthusiasts that visit — this world-class festival from around the world."

OSF Artistic Director Libby Appel said, ''Shakespeare — has always been our standard and inspiration for all the work we do here, — and to have a first, original copy of his writing is absolutely thrilling. — And education is such a vital part of the festival tradition, we know — this folio will enable students of all ages to appreciate how Shakespeare — and his fellow actors brought his words to life.''

The First Folio was edited by John Heminge (d. 1630) and — Henry Condell (d. 1627) and printed in London by Isaac Iaggard and Ed. — Blount at the Charges of W. Jaggard, Ed. Blount, I. Smithweeke and W. — Aspley. The First Folio (of Four) contains the first printing of 18 of — Shakespeare's plays: "The Tempest," "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," "Measure — for Measure," "The Comedy of Errors," "As You Like It," "The Taming of — the Shrew," "All's Well That Ends Well," "Twelfth Night," "The Winter's — Tale," "King John," "Henry VI, Part One," "Henry VIII," "Coriolanus," — "Timon of Athens," "Julius Caesar," "Macbeth," "Antony and Cleopatra" — and "Cymbeline." "Pericles," "The Two Noble Kinsmen," "Sir Thomas More" — and "Edward III" are not included in the First Folio.

The First Folio edition was a commercial success, and — probably was out of print by the time the Second Folio went into production — (1632). Scholars have determined that there were approximately 750 copies — of the First Folio. The Third Folio was set from the Second and added — seven more plays (only "Pericles" has gained general acceptance in the — Shakespeare canon). The Fourth Folio was a direct reprint of the Third. — There are an estimated 300 complete and fragmentary copies of the First — Folio in the world. Most of these copies are imperfect and many are seriously — defective. Of the 82 exemplary copies at the Folger Library in Washington — D.C., only 13 are complete. Most complete copies currently reside in institutions — and only five or six worldwide are held privately.

For tickets to view the Folio or attend a lecture with — Barry Kraft, check on line at www.osfashlnd.org, call the box office at — 482-4331, or visit the Box Office at 15 South Pioneer St.