Li­brary has shows set to pull pun­ters

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Escape -

Shake­speare, maps and star Ken­neth Wil­liams are among the Bri­tish Li­brary’s 2016 high­lights. To mark the 400th an­niver­sary of Shake­speare’s death, a ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion seeks to cast new light on how he be­came a cul­tural gi­ant through 10 key per­for­mances. It will in­clude the only sur­viv­ing playscript in Shake­speare’s hand – one of only six au­then­tic Shake­speare sig­na­tures. The Bri­tish Li­brary says Shake­speare in Ten Acts will tell a story of strug­gles, set­backs and sea-changes, and prove his course never did run smooth. Later in the year, the ma­jor au­tumn ex­hi­bi­tion will ex­plore the tu­mul­tuous history of the 20th cen­tury through maps, draw­ing on ex­am­ples from the li­brary’s car­tog­ra­phy col­lec­tions and be­yond. A se­lec­tion of Min­istry of De­fence maps used as part of of­fi­cial col­lege ex­ams in the 1950s and 1960s will go on dis­play for the first time. Th­ese maps show fic­tional sce­nar­ios such as a nu­clear explosion fallout in Scot­land and south Eng­land reimag­ined as a battlefield, re­flect­ing the po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tain­ties of the 20th Cen­tury. The li­brary has also an­nounced the ac­qui­si­tion of the per­sonal archive of ac­tor Ken­neth Wil­liams, in­clud­ing 42 per­sonal diaries and about 2000 let­ters span­ning his life and ca­reer from the age of 18 un­til his death in 1988. He used the diaries, which he kept for more than 40 years, as a half-se­ri­ous threat to his friends but kept the con­tents al­most com­pletely to him­self, the li­brary said. It added that “You’ll be in my diary!” was a favourite say­ing when­ever some­one an­noyed him. It is es­ti­mated 85 per cent of the newly ac­quired archive has never been seen by re­searchers, and the archive is ex­pected to be of in­ter­est to so­cial his­to­ri­ans of post war Bri­tain. It de­tails the ex­pe­ri­ence of a gay man both be­fore and af­ter the Wolfenden Re­port and the de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity in 1967, along­side the mun­dane de­tails of ev­ery­day life in Lon­don. The diaries and let­ters also record the ac­tor’s ex­pe­ri­ence of the dy­ing days of the reper­tory the­atre sys­tem and the growth of mod­ern celebrity cul­ture.

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