Duluth gets a fardel of the Bard

Body: 

So, verily I say unto thee, perchance thou hast forsaken thy papered news, forsooth? If thy answer doth lie in the negative, the day doth lie in the positive.

Translation: Hope you got your Budgeteer today!

Sorry for all the fancy-pants verbiage, but Shakespeare's in town, so it's time to freshen up my thees and thous. Not the man himself, of course. The Bard has been dead for hundreds of years. If he shuffled back onto this mortal coil, that would be a combination of super silly, yet astonishingly creepy. Like Donald Trump's campaign. But not as silly.

No, there's not a moldy bag of Shakespeare bones in Duluth but for a limited time, you can find a whole bunch of his moldy papers at the University of Minnesota Duluth called the First Folio. Written right after his death, the First Folio contains some of Shakespeare's most famous plays including the bad-luck one ("Macbeth") and the really bad-luck one ("MacChicken"). I'm kidding, of course. MacChickens only taste like they're from the 1600s.

Researchers believe that fewer than 750 copies of the First Folio were ever printed, of which only 233 survive today. The Folger Shakespeare Library (Official Slogan: "The best part of waking up is Shakespeare in your cup!") owns 82 of these copies and tours them around the country so people can be giggle firsthand at the word "fardel."

Last week, I wanted to take a firsthand look at the First Folio but I don't like crowds (people smell funny) so I did what any self-respecting, agoraphobic Shakespearean scholar would do: I dressed up fancy, went to UMD, shoved them down my codpiece and snuck out the back door. And after spending several hours with these historical records I can state unequivocally that, A) they smell funnier than a crowd would have (to be fair, that may have something to do with my codpiece), and B) there are a lot of surprises contained in these yellowed pages.

For example ...

• Shakespeare's original draft of "Othello" featured an evil villain named Craig.

• Several of these famous plays were to be set in Minnesota, including "The Two Hotdishes of Verona," "Romeo & Juliet & Sven & Ole" and "Much Hoopdeedoo About Nothing."

• The first appearance of the character of Falstaff was as a giant inflatable rubber duck.

There are more shocking discoveries, too many to make up and write down in one column, so go check them out yourself. Better yet, go to champ.d.umn.edu/shakespeares-first-folio for details on the First Folio-related activities going on around town through October.

And whatever you do, don't yell "Macbeth" in a crowded theater. Or "MacChicken" in a crowded Hardee's.

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