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The Hofstra Shakespeare Festival

The Hofstra Shakespeare Festival
The Globe Playhouse
Photo Gallery

Hofstra University’s Annual Shakespeare Festival began in 1950 with a production of Julius Caesar. Throughout its’ long history the Festival has presented a varied selection of the plays of William Shakespeare, lesser-known short plays from the period, musicales, and scenes from Shakespeare’s plays performed by high school groups from the greater New York area. Each year a different piece is performed on the main stage, representing one of 26 plays of the Shakespearean canon presented at the festival.

The Globe Playhouse

From 1951, the second year of the Festival, through 2008, the Shakespeare Festival was performed regularly on a 5/6 life-sized replica of the Globe stage as reconstructed by John Cranford Adams, later assisted by Irwin Smith. Dr. Adams was President of Hofstra University from 1944 to 1964. The replica was built under supervision of Donald H. Swinney, designer and technical director in the Department of Drama.

When Dr. Adams was a candidate for his doctorate at Cornell University, he chose as his dissertation subject, "The Globe Playhouse - Its Design and Construction." The Globe, completed in 1599, provided the setting for a number of Shakespeare's greatest plays.

The design of the Globe has excited the imagination of Shakespearean scholars for more than a century. It was known to have been built of timber, roofed with thatch, and contained, for stage effects, a small canon, which in 1613 accidentally set fire to the thatch, destroying the theatre.

In the preparation for the publication of his work by Harvard University Press in 1942, Dr. Adams spent 10 years in research. This involved study in England of Tudor architecture, building methods and allied crafts, plus hundreds of Elizabethan plays, contracts, playhouse documents, legal records, letters and maps. As part of his research, Dr. Adams created an elaborate three-dimensional scale model of the Globe that is permanently on display in the lower level of the Playhouse, named in his honor.

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