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Hitting the Books: The 2011 Folger Shakespeare Library Gala

Hitting the Books: The 2011 Folger Shakespeare Library Gala

A fresh, spring-green palette punches up a fundraiser at D.C.'s Folger Shakespeare Library

Spring renewal was a fitting theme for the April fundraiser at Washington's Folger Shakespeare Library. The gala — the largest to date, raising more than $625,000 with 350 attendees — brought in money for the library and honored retiring library director Gail Kern Paster with a formal sit-down dinner followed by a theatrical presentation of Shakespearean sonnets, snippets and arias.

Working with an event team that included Occasions Caterers and Frost Lighting, both of Washington, and Silver Spring, Md.-based Spot Floral Design, Folger event director Caroline Bedinger relied on a bright green color palette to add a punch of spring to the elegant architecture and furniture of the library's two main reading rooms.

“Since we knew we'd be seating to capacity, we needed to use the library's own tables as well as rentals, so we decided to showcase them by having custom green runners made and leaving the legs of the wonderful oak library tables exposed,” Bedinger says. Hyattsville, Md.-based Table Manners provided the custom lime-green runners, as well as green and brown print “Jackie O” tablecloths for the round rented tables. Floral centerpieces of varying heights complemented the spring green color scheme.

“Spring was our inspiration, and the colors that spring brings — green and that hint of brown — were very important design elements,” says John Arndt of Spot Floral Design. “We complemented the greens and browns with bright, happy arrangements of pinks, oranges and sage green.” Clear and gold glass vases of varying shapes and heights, along with mirrors and candles as accent pieces, added sparkle and sophistication to the tabletops. Romantic lighting with hints of gold lent warmth to the Old Reading Room, while a stock gobo called “Caviar” projected on the New Reading Room's barrel-vaulted ceiling echoed the martini olive design on the table linens.

“Green” also guided the creation of the dinner menu. “The request from the Folger was to focus on as much local and sustainable foods as possible,” says Matt Sipala of Occasions Caterers. After dinner, guests were led to the Folger's Elizabethan Theatre for the entertainment portion of the evening, which included a 30-minute Shakespearean montage as well as a dedication to the honoree.

“The combination of the dramatic floral arrangements with the unique Old Reading Room tables and the lighting design in the New Reading Room really tied entire look of the gala together,” Sipala says.



Pressed Melon Carpaccio with Salmon and Avocado Tartare

Basil and Lemon Biscuits and Cheese Palmiers


Springfield Farm Lamb Loin Persillé with a Fava Bean Mash

Hasselback's Potatoes

Spring Vegetables with Tarragon-Champagne Beurre Composé


Pavé of Bittersweet Chocolate and Apricot with Apricot Yogurt Ice Cream



Holograms are fast becoming a high-tech fixture in the world of special events, from product launches and awards presentation to corporate and social events. “Holograms can be anything — real people, animations, machines — anything you can film or create with visual effects and CG can be made into a hologram with the proper techniques,” says Vicky Godfrey, managing director of London-based Square Zero. The human holograms, which are the most popular, look like life-sized real people. “The filming techniques are so good that you wouldn't necessarily know they were holograms if you hadn't been made aware previously,” she says. At a recent event for Saatchi & Saatchi, Square Zero brought one of its head officers, the late Paul Arden, “back from the dead” by pairing old footage of him with a body double and voice actor for a presentation at the Cannes Lions Festival. Another recent event, a party for a global staffing firm held simultaneously in 26 countries, featured a DJ — who came flying in with his magical booth to mix music — as a hologram.

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