For more than 400 years, William Shakespeare’s plays have endured. They’ve been studied, performed, remixed and celebrated across generations and geographies. As we celebrate his April birthday, we also celebrate the three-year anniversary of the launch of the UCI Shakespeare Center. Co-directed by Julia Reinhard Lupton, professor of English and associate dean for humanities research, and Eli Simon, Chancellor’s Professor of drama, the UCI Shakespeare Center is dedicated to exploring the world of Will through performance, scholarship and teaching.

In addition to internationally renowned Shakespeare experts, UCI is home to a unique array of Shakespeare memorabilia and performances. For example, UCI Libraries owns a rare copy of the Bard’s First Folio, the debut published collection of his works, printed in 1623. Shakespeare’s plays often take center stage in Humanities Core, literature and drama classes. Every summer, a 15-ton Elizabethan stage is reassembled on campus and becomes the New Swan Theater, where – during a six-week season – two plays are performed in an open-air setting akin to that enjoyed by Shakespeare’s original audiences.

View our slideshow to experience the many ways that Shakespeare inspires and delights the campus.

  1. alt placeholder "The Winter's Tale," directed by Beth Lopez, associate art director of the New Swan Shakespeare Festival, is one of Shakespeare's brilliant tales of jealousy, exile and redemption. This production, one of two this summer, will showcase the diverse talents of the New Swan ensemble.
  2. alt placeholder "Costuming the Leading Ladies of Shakespeare: From Stratford To Orange County" is on display in Langson Library’s Muriel Ansley Reynolds Gallery. The spring exhibit examines the evolution of stage costuming in Shakespeare's plays throughout the past 150 years.
  3. alt placeholder "A Midsummer Night's Dream," directed by Eli Simon, artistic director of the New Swan Shakespeare Festival, is perhaps the Bard's most beloved comedy. Set in the 1950s, this production is sure to bring mayhem, magic and madness to the mix.
  4. alt placeholder English Ph.D. student and admitted Trekkie Phillip Aijian has written on the intersection of Shakespeare and "Star Trek" and will moderate the May 15 event, "Shakespeare and Star Trek: A Conversation With Nicholas Meyer."
  5. alt placeholder Blending Shakespeare and design theory, English professor Julia Reinhard Lupton's new book, "Shakespeare Dwelling: Designs for the Theater of Life" (University of Chicago Press, 2018), explores how the worlds we live in shape our beliefs, experiences, actions and opportunities.
  6. alt placeholder Eli Simon was named the 2017 "OC Man of the Year in Theater" by the "Daily Pilot/Los Angeles Times" for his work as artistic director of the New Swan Shakespeare Festival.
  7. alt placeholder On April 11, 2018, the Irvine Barclay Theatre was converted into a "courtroom," where Song Richardson, dean of UCI's School of Law, and Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley's School of Law, faced off in a mock trial of Shakespeare's Hamlet for first-degree murder. U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford oversaw the proceedings, which culminated in a "not guilty" verdict. The next trial of a Shakespearean tragic hero is slated for April 9, 2019.
  8. alt placeholder Directed by Jane Page, professor of drama, Shaken Shakespeare builds on the spirit of flash mobs and the 2012 "Pop-Up Shakespeare" project in London. UCI drama students who belong to "Bill's Crew" surprise people across campus with brief performances of selections from the Bard's plays and sonnets.
  9. alt placeholder Did you know that there are only 235 copies of Shakespeare's "First Folio" left in the world and that UCI is home to one of them? The first published collection of Shakespeare's plays, "First Folio" was printed in 1623. Our copy is a gift from alumnus Pat Hanratty.
  10. alt placeholder Drama professor Ketu Katrak organized UCI's first Global Shakespeare Symposium, featuring keynote speaker Jay Pather, South African choreographer and artist-scholar. Katrak also led a book club on "Hamlet" at the UCI Libraries.
  11. alt placeholder Derek Quezada, outreach and public services librarian, walks students and library visitors through UCI's many treasures, including Shakespeare's "First Folio" and a set of quarto-sized Shakespeare plays from the 1760s.
  12. alt placeholder Drama Ph.D. student Letty Garcia earned a master's degree in Shakespeare studies from the Shakespeare Institute at the U.K.'s University of Birmingham. Her research addresses cultural and artistic exchange between Mexico and Shakespeare.
  13. alt placeholder UCI English major Erika Higbee, who studied Shakespeare last fall at the U.K.'s University of Kent, reflects on visiting his grave: “Silence, chills, wondering at all the writing done before our time. To be ... to be something … to say something: We are a part of a continuing history that we must remember and build on. Why am I crying from awe? When I stand here, I am standing in front of the entire tradition of English literature."
  14. alt placeholder Alumna Sheiba Kian Kaufman, who earned a Ph.D. in English in 2016, contributes to the Shakespeare Center's community reading groups. "Learning about intense, zany, serious, callous, calculating, humorous and compassionate characters in Shakespeare's plays brings me closer to understanding and appreciating the diversity of our world, both then and now," she says.