Shake it Off

National Building Museum teams with the Folger Shakespeare Library for 2020 Block Party

For the sixth iteration of Block Party in 2019, the LAB at Rockwell Group installed an artificial law, swings, and a pool in the museum's great hall. (Timothy Schenck)

The Washington, D.C.-based National Building Museum is shaking things up for its 2020 Block Party, a rambunctious summer-long exhibition that converts the museum’s great hall into an interactive installation.

While the National Building Museum has traditionally commissioned architecture firms to head up Block Party (see last year’s Lawn from Rockwell Group or the mini Snarkitecture retrospective in 2018), today they announced the museum had instead chosen the Folger Shakespeare Library and University of South Carolina to realize Shakespeare’s Playhouse for the exhibition’s seventh outing later this year. From July 4 through September 7, visitors can experience an “Elizabethan-inspired” outdoor theater set within the great hall.

More than just an exploration of how architecture and stage design converge, Shakespeare’s Playhouse will become a fully functional stage at night and host showings of A Midsummer Night’s Dream Tuesday through Sunday until August 30.

The Folger Shakespeare Library is one of the world’s largest Shakespeare and most-visited Shakespeare collections, and hosts exhibitions and shows both at home in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Beginning yesterday, January 6, the institution began a multi-year renovation and expansion of the 1932, Paul Cret-designed building that it calls home.

“This colorful, portable, and freestanding theater,” said Robert Richmond, who will be directing the construction of Shakespeare’s Playhouse, “the installation provides a perfect platform for entering this dream of a play, where real and imagined worlds blend. Bringing favorite Folger actors and artistic team members to undertake this theatrical adventure is the extraordinary beginning of partnerships and performances off-site during the Folger’s renovation.”

While no design details have been released as of yet, AN will follow up when images are revealed in the spring.

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