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Rare Shakespeare Manuscript Highlights New Exhibit

A 17th century collection of William Shakespeare's original works is the centerpiece of a new exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
This is your opportunity to read Shakespeare's words as they were first printed.

The First Folio dates to 1623 and is one of just 234 "known surviving copies that preserved 36 of Shakespeare's plays after his death." It's on loan from the Folger Shakespeare Library as part of the CMC's Shakespeare and the Queen City exhibit.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
A magical forest serves as the background for the exhibit which includes playbills, scripts, and remembrances from nationally-renowned Cincinnati Shakespeare actresses.

The folio contains 18 plays that were printed for the first time when they were added to the compilation, including MacBeth and As You Like It. "Written to be preformed," the Museum Center says, "many of his plays were never published during his lifetime and without their inclusion in the First Folio, these plays would be lost to modern audiences."

"What's special about this exhibition," says Senior Director of Project Management for Exhibits Sarah Lima, "is that it's giving us a chance to look at Shakespeare as a storyteller and then to see how his stories get taken up by Americans and by Cincinnatians in particular. What's resonant about his work to the city of Cincinnati."

The exhibit includes works and artifacts from the University of Cincinnati's Archives and Rare Books Library, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
If "all the world's a stage," the Cincinnati Museum Center is offering guests an opportunity to be players.

There's a stage with real props where visitors can try their hand at reciting lines before a pretend audience.

Lima says a particularly interesting point visitors should be sure to see is the adaption section "looking at the ways that different people have related to Shakespeare's plays through time, and how they've picked up these characters and breathed new life into them."

The media installation weaves together video of multiple actors with varying 'takes' reciting the To Be or Not To Be monologue from Hamlet.

Shakespeare and the Queen City is free and runs through Oct. 29.