The Hippo


May 29, 2020








Courtesy photo.

Shakespeare in April

ARTalk: First Folio: Sunday, April 10, at 2 p.m. at the Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester; discussion with UMass-Lowell Professor Kevin Petersen and UNH Professor Susanne Paterson about Shakespeare’s place in American culture, with special emphasis on popular culture and film, followed by Collection Connections focus tour
Women and Love in Shakespeare: Monday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m., at the Derry Public Library (64 E. Broadway, Derry, 432-6140,, Carey Cahoon reads selections of Shakespeare’s works and talks about the theme of love in Shakespeare
• UNH Shakespeare Festival: Tuesday, April 12, 1 to 2 p.m., on the lawn of Thompson Hall (105 Main St., Durham), performance by students of UNH theater department, staged reading of A Midsummer Night’s Dream 
ShakesBEERience: A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Tuesday, April 12, at 6:30 p.m., at Libby’s Bar & Grille, 47 Main St., Durham, free or pay what you will
Shakespeare Workshop: Wednesday, April 13, at 6:30 p.m., at the Wadleigh Memorial Library (49 Nashua St., Milford, 249-0645,, learn how to deliver a monologue or portray a scene from some of Shakespeare’s most popular plays
Shakespeare Movie/Bingo: Wednesday, April 13, at 6 p.m., at the Goffstown Public Library (2 High St., Goffstown, 497-2102,
The Music of Shakespeare: Thursday, April 14, at 5:30 p.m., at Dimond Library, Courtyard Reading Room (18 Library Way, Durham), UNH Department of Music performs music of Shakespeare’s time with period instruments and period arrangements
Shakespeare’s sonnets: Debut and discussion of enhanced edition of Shakespeare’s sonnets, presented by Cider Mill Press founder John F. Whalen Jr., Thursday, April 14, at Saint Anselm College (100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester)
Much Ado About Coloring: Tuesday, April 19, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Manchester City Library (405 Pine St., Manchester, 624-6550,, adult coloring with a Renaissance theme 
Who Really Wrote Shakespeare? Tuesday, April 19, 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the Amherst Town Library (14 Main St., Amherst, 673-2288,, illustrated talk by Doug Stewart discussing theories that question the authorship of Shakespeare’s works
Literary Ladies Book Discussion: Discussion of Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard Wednesday, April 20, at 1:30 p.m., at the Goffstown Public Library (2 High St., Goffstown, 497-2102,
Ensemble Chaccone: Concert featuring music from Shakespeare’s plays at Saint Anselm College (100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester) Koonz Theatre, Wednesday, April 20, at 7 p.m.
Book Group: Discussion of The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio by Andrea Mays, part of Books in the Mill book club, Thursday, April 21, 6:30 to 8 p.m., at UNH Manchester, second-floor learning commons
First Folio Late Night: Thursday, April 21, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Currier Museum of Art; conversation with Saint Anselm Professors Dr. Landis K. Magnuson and Dr. Gary Bouchard about the Folio as a historical document and living text; theatre KAPOW will perform one scene each from Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream; live music from Manchester Community Music School; docent-led tours of exhibition
Shakespeare Beat Night, hosted by John Michael Albert: Thursday, April 21, at 7 p.m., at The Press Room Restaurant, 77 Daniel St., Portsmouth, spoken word poets who read work with a beat night band, free or pay what you will
Open Mike Night Shakespearean Sonnet Challenge: Friday, April 22, at 7 p.m., at Apotheca Flowers and Tea Shoppe (24 Main St., Goffstown, 497-4940), present an original sonnet or pop sonnet and participate in an open mike; prizes awarded, visit, call 497-2102
Public Tour: Spotlight on Shakespeare: Saturday, April 23, at 11:30 a.m. at the Currier Museum of Art; tour of “First Folio,” plus “Shakespeare’s Potions,” which explores recipes for centuries-old potions available during the bard’s time
Free First Folio Educator Conference: Saturday, April 23, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at UNH Manchester (88 Commercial St., Manchester,, “Shakespeare’s Text Demystified,” aimed at middle and high school teachers, ending with tour of First Folio exhibit, presented by Susanne Paterson, Michael Pugh, Dennis Britton and PeggyRae Johnson, and Maribeth Cote from the Shakespeare Folger Library, includes theatre KAPOW performance of Hamlet, RSVP at
2016 Annual Shakespeare Birthday Celebration: Monday, April 25, at Saint Anselm College, 100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester, in the courtyard behind Alumni Hall, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
Twelfth Night: Presented by UNH Manchester’s Sign Language Interpretation program, Friday, April 29, 7 to 9:30 p.m., UNH Manchester, Room 456, film screening featuring cast of deaf actors with English voiceovers
* Snap a photo at a library event and use the hashtag #shakespearenh to share your experience.
See “First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare”
Where: Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester
When: April 9 through May 1
Admission: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $9 for students, $5 for youth, free for kids younger than 13
Contact:, 669-6144, ext. 122
“Shakespeare’s Potions”
Next to the Currier’s Reference Library and Archives is the “Shakespeare’s Potions” exhibition curated by museum librarian and archivist Meghan Petersen, on view now through June 26. On the walls are film stills, courtesy of UNH professor Doug Lanier, and in two cases sit some of the museum’s oldest books from its rare books collection. 
The books, for the most part, comprise information on plants, their medicinal properties and ideal growing conditions, along with illustrations. Most of the texts contain herbals that would have been familiar to Shakespeare, like John Gerard’s The herball or Generall historie of plantes, originally published in 1597, whose pages were flipped open to details on the effects of henbane — the poison suspected to have killed Hamlet’s father.
“These types of books gained great popularity during this time. There was this shift from sort of looking to nature for moral instruction to actual observation of nature around you. And so the English herbals of this period really started to change,” Petersen said. “What makes these sort of interesting is this assumption on Shakespeare’s part that his audience would be familiar with these plants, these herbs. He refers to them hundreds and hundreds of times in his plays.”
The books, she said, are available for anyone to come in and, with some instruction,  handle them when not on display.
“There’s this conversation going on now — people are thinking about books more as objects of craft, and really thinking about the production of a book, and of course, these are illustrated books, so we felt that this was a way we could connect the Folio show to the Currier’s collection,” Petersen said.

Shakespeare on tour
Featuring women and love, much ado about coloring and first folio

By Kelly Sennott

 Shakespeare’s First Folio is coming to Manchester, and with the news of its impending arrival, fellow Shakespeareans, Renaissance geeks and theater buffs jumped on board to offer an abundance of related events.

The Folio’s stop at the Currier Museum of Art April 9 through May 1 is thanks to a collection of New Hampshire college professors who met weekly via Skype to complete the proposal. But true bard immersion happens outside the museum, too. Walk into a school, library, theater or pub this month, and you may find yourself in the midst of a Shakespeare-style cursing contest or sonnet-reading marathon, a kid-centric production or a play reading in which actors must clutch a beer in one hand, script in the other. 
In honor of this April’s Shakespeare-mania, the Hippo talked with some of the state’s most ardent followers about why and how they adore the bard — they say he’s much cooler than you remember from high school English class — and what they plan to do to get others on the Shakespeare train in the next few weeks.
Getting the First Folio
Shakespeare wrote many of his plays to be performed, not read, and so they were not published during his lifetime. But, not wanting these works to be lost, two of his fellow actors gathered 36 of his plays and published Shakespeare’s First Folio in 1623, seven years after his death. As a result, they saved 18 pieces that would have been lost — like Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, Antony and Cleopatra and As You Like It, among others.
There were an estimated 750 Folios printed, and today, there are 233 known First Folios left. Eighty-two Folio copies sit in the Folger Shakespeare Library in D.C.  which was established in 1932 by Henry Clay and Emily Jordan Folger. It holds holds more Folios than any other single entity. 
“Mr. Folger … was quite the collector, and pulled all this together when people weren’t paying much attention to it,” said UNH Durham professor Doug Lanier, who spearheaded the effort to bring the Folio to Manchester. “It really is a world-class collection of works. There are things you can’t get anywhere else on Earth at the Folger Library.”
To celebrate 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, staff at the Folger decided to send 18 of the museum’s best-preserved copies on a nationwide tour hitting all 50 states. The first stop, in January, was Oklahoma, and the last will be Tennessee in January 2017.
“Our executive director, Michael Witmore, who came on board a few years ago, said, ‘We have all these Folios. They’re a wonderful resource, a wonderful thing. We need to share them.’ The idea is, we have all these treasures in D.C. at the Folger, and normally, you only get to see them if you come to D.C.,” Maribeth Cote, Folger public engagement coordinator, said via phone.
Lanier, who specializes in teaching drama and Shakespeare, learned about the tour through the Shakespeare Association of America Conference early in 2014. He’d been to the Folger many times, once as a research fellow, and he said it’s one of the places to go if you’re in Shakespeare studies. He began rallying right away, reaching out to other Granite State Shakespeareans at UNH Manchester and Saint Anselm College soon after, since prospective venues would have to complete extensive paperwork to be in Folio host contention.
“God bless Skype. We’re all just crazy busy,” Lanier said. “We were able to meet as a group on a weekly basis. But it wasn’t hard to find people interested.”
This collaboration among university members was not unusual, but perhaps unique in terms of scale, in the opinion of Susanne Paterson, program coordinator and associate professor of English at UNH Manchester. She enjoyed it, and she hopes this triggers more cross-college collaborations in the future. Lanier agreed.
“It would be lovely if that were the legacy of this project,” Lanier said.
There were requirements for the application — the location needed to adhere to the book’s security, climate and insurance demands, and the venue and community had to offer a variety of programming with the exhibition. Which is how the scholars came to the Currier.
“I think this sort of fell outside of maybe our more traditional scope, but when they approached us, the staff was really excited about it,” said Meghan Petersen, librarian and archivist at the Currier Museum of Art. “And of course, we have works in the museum’s collection that are influenced by Shakespeare’s story.”
They learned their application was accepted in February 2015.
Moved to tears
It’s an old, five-pound book in a box.
That’s essentially the Currier exhibition, “First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare.” The book will sit in a climate-controlled case in the European Gallery, which is on the left when you first walk through the museum’s glass doors.
Beside it will be some Shakespeare-related artwork — for instance, an oil depicting Antony and Cleopatra -- and Folger-supplied text panels that tell the Folio’s and the Folger museum’s story and evaluate why, 400 years later, we still turn to Shakespeare. 
His words have inspired operas, short stories, musicals, computer games and hip hop videos, and some of them are still used in everyday language, like “come full circle,” “into thin air” and “not a mouse stirring.” The panels contain these phrases, and also some of his most famous quotes: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players,” from As You Like It, and “If music be the food of love, play on,” from Twelfth Night. 
To supplement this relatively small exhibition, the Currier created a related show, “Shakespeare’s Potions,” comprising old herbal books Shakespeare might have used when writing plays like Hamlet or A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
But, as any scholar will tell you, it’s a very important book, and it’s in very good condition. The 900-page text has that old book smell, and its pages, though tinted with age, are thick and soft to the touch, like an old, loved blanket. Handlers don’t wear gloves but keep their fingers very clean.
“It’s very well-preserved. These pages are still really soft,” Cote said. “You can sense the fact that so many people have touched these pages.”
Getting the book here is an intensive process. Couriers will bring it to the museum a few days before the opening and install it under the watch of security guards. Nobody except Folger staff is allowed to touch; if you want to see what the inside looks like, there’s a copy of the original Folio text online at, and there will be a bright red mock-up next to the Currier’s library entrance. All copies will be open to Hamlet’s famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy. 
Cote said that since the tour started earlier this year, she’s heard a half dozen or so stories of people crying after seeing the Folio. Theatre KAPOW co-founder and Currier staff member Carey Cahoon knows one of them.
“A friend of mine saw it in Maine. She lives in the Portland area, and she posted about it. She was crying,” Cahoon said. “It is a book in a box, but it’s so important.”
Not necessarily the book itself, but what the book represents: a world with Shakespeare.
“The magic is the words that people bring to life when they perform them,” Paterson said. “Having the book here allows us to talk to people about the magical transformation that happens when people see or hear or engage with Shakespeare.”
At the end of the tour, all the traveling Folios will be on display at the Folger Shakespeare Library, where it will be revealed which text went where, and what happened on its journey.
University fanatics
Some of the state’s biggest Shakespeare superfans are those university professors who worked so hard bringing the First Folio here.
“I do geek out in a very serious way,” said Lanier, who is offering students extra credit to see the book in person. “I will see a Shakespeare show at nearly any venue I can. I’ll be one of 10 people in the audience at the back of a pub, or I’ll be at shows at the National Theatre where there are 500 people in the audience.”
Another college superfan is Saint Anselm English Professor Gary Bouchard, who runs a sonnet-reading marathon every April to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday and death day — both speculated to be April 23 — and for this 400th anniversary (and 452nd birthday), he has a lineup of people ready to read all 154 sonnets Monday, April 25, at the school. It will be three quatrains and a couplet all day long, and everyone in the public is invited.
Several people will sing sonnets, several will read in other languages — French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Russian — and four alum teachers will bring their students from as far as Maine and Massachusetts. Between readings, the Abbey Players will perform some Shakespeare scenes.
Bouchard first held the event in 1989. Seventy-five people read, and there was coverage from multiple media publications, according to the university website. It soon became a time-honored tradition, with birthday cake aplenty.
Some people have phoned in their sonnets — from the Globe Theatre in London, the University of Chicago, the University of Notre Dame and via satellite from Omaha, Nebraska — and in 2001, Matthew Konieczka proposed to his now-wife at the end of Sonnet 109, which begins, “O never say that I was false of heart.” The year after, Tracy Manforte-Sweet read while in handstand. The youngest reader was 6 years old: Aidan Donais, son of Professor Kate Donais. 
There are lots of special events at area colleges this month. On April 14, the UNH Department of Music performs a free concert of music from Shakespeare’s time, and on April 20, Saint Anselm hosts Ensemble Chaccone, who will perform songs from Shakespeare’s plays. On April 23, UNH Manchester presents a free First Folio educator conference, “Shakespeare Demystified.”
Currier librarian and archivist Meghan Petersen even got her husband, University of Massachusetts English professor Kevin Petersen, in on the action. He presents a lecture at the museum with Paterson about Shakespeare’s enduring place in American culture on April 10. 
“I’m excited to be part of something that has such a large focus and a huge space. Shakespeare seems like an easy draw, but academics aren’t used to people caring about what we do. It’s nice having support behind it all,” Kevin Petersen said.
Shaking up Shakespeare theater
Also in the superfan line are New Hampshire’s theater people, and many present special performances this month in honor of the Folio.
The Seven Stages Shakespeare Co. presents an April 12 ShakesBEERience performance at which UNH students, faculty and alumni read A Midsummer Night’s Dream using Folio text at Libby’s Bar & Grille in Durham. A couple weeks later, it hosts Shakespeare Beat Night, where people read Shakespeare or Shakespeare-inspired poetry to music.
7SSC co-founders Dan Beaulieu and Christine Penney met through the summer’s Prescott Park Arts Festival in Portsmouth, which annually presents one Shakespeare play all summer long. They agreed Seacoast Shakespeare shouldn’t be limited to the summertime. Their solution: the ShakesBEERience series, which features 90-minute pub readings in which actors perform with a script in one hand, beer in the other. Audiences sit or stand around performers while servers weave through the crowd to take orders. 
 “The whole concept with this is that people come in with a lot of inhibitions, both actors and audience members, to Shakespeare. We make it really immediately fun and take the work passionately but not so seriously,” Beaulieu said.
Beaulieu and company Managing Director Kevin Condardo also host the state’s go-to weekly Shakespeare podcast, called No Holds Bard, released every Wednesday. (The latest episode discussed which Shakespeare characters would make the best baseball players.) This summer, 7SSC produces its annual Prescott Park show and most ambitious project to date: a chronological performance of eight Shakespeare history plays at Throwback Brewery on June 12 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“It’s going to be nuts,” Beaulieu said. “We will be outside, weather provided, on the farm where the beer is brewed. Throwback is one of the sponsors, and they’re looking to brew a ShakesBeer. We’re talking about [flavors] now.”
Jessie Chapman, managing director at Advice to the Players, had prepared some Folio-centric programming, too; the company is set to perform Shakespeare and the Language that Shaped a World, a 45-minute tour-de-force composed by Kevin G. Coleman, director of education at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, Mass., on April 9. The play tells about Shakespeare using his own devices. To demonstrate violence, they pull out stops from Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar. When they talk language, they throw out Shakespearean insults: “You sheep-biter!”
Chapman was excited for the Manchester performance. The company’s home is in a converted barn in Sandwich with wooden floors and a grand piano, and its audiences are typically made up of locals and tourists.
Of course, there are lots of New Hampshire companies producing Shakespeare — the Nashua Theatre Guild typically presents a summer outdoor production, and Shakespeare in the Valley usually goes on a summer-long New Hampshire tour.
Cahoon, whose New Hampshire Shakespeare claim to fame is having performed a three-man version of Macbeth with theatre KAPOW in 2014, said the state’s theater people have reason to get so excited about the Folio’s New Hampshire visit. It’s full of information for actors. 
“When you pick up a copy of Shakespeare on the shelf in a bookstore, that’s a certain edition. … They’ve made choices about things like the lineation, and what to include, with capitalization and spellings. They’re trying to simplify the text in some ways, or they’re making decisions about interpretations,” Cahoon said. “It’s been hugely interesting and enlightening to come back to the First Folio text of all these various plays.”
Pipsqueak Shakespeareans
Some Shakespeare love starts young.
Project Shakespeare founder Deborah Thurber took one of her students, Ben Michaud, under her wing when he was 5. They met while Thurber was substitute teaching for a Peterborough kindergarten class.
“I’ve wanted to be on the stage my entire life,” he told her. “I want to do Shakespeare.” 
And so he did. The 5-year-old, whose mother is an English professor, joined PS, a youth Shakespeare company based in Jaffrey, and his most recent starring role was as Ferdinand in The Tempest. It’s not as hard to get young kids interested as you might think, Thurber said via phone.
“There’s so much vocabulary they don’t know yet, so they’re not afraid of new words. Shakespeare phrases to them are just as foreign as some [others]. And they’re pretty proud of themselves that they can learn and do it,” said Thurber, who admittedly does make the scripts more kid-friendly for her very young actors. “There’s a huge push to get the young more educated on Shakespeare. … He’s the best playwright to teach you, what it’s like to be a human being, what makes us good and what makes us not so good.”
The youth company took nine students to Shakespeare’s birthplace — Stratford-upon-Avon, England — to perform Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s outdoor theater, The Dell, in 2014. One PS student, originally from England, found out about the opportunity through a friend involved with RSC, who knew outside companies could apply to perform at the Dell. 
“But nowhere in the application did it say you had to be from England,” Thurber said. “We applied, and they chose us!”
PS postponed the trip a year and a half to raise the money, and when the kids got to England, they spent two days in Shakespeare’s hometown, performing and watching RSC shows. Thurber burst with pride when RSC invited them to come back whenever they liked. The kids then went to Shakespeare’s Globe in London, where they toured, took workshops and saw Antony and Cleopatra. (They learned first-hand about the spontaneity of live theater when a fellow audience member pulled in an actress and gave her an enormous kiss. She played it off without hesitation.)
When they returned home, PS’s younger students who couldn’t travel to London wanted a trip, too. This summer, they’re traveling to see Shakespeare in Stratford, Canada, which they’re almost through fundraising for.
PS is one of many New Hampshire companies offering youth Shakespeare opportunities. Advice to the Players sees between 40 and 50 kids each year, and the Peacock Players and The Performer’s Playground and other youth companies regularly perform Shakespeare’s work. 
“The best thing is to just let [kids] do it. They’re far smarter than we give them credit for. If they speak the word, they will understand it better than just telling them,” Chapman said. 
Fans at the library
Thou art a mountain of mad flesh.
Thou art an incontinent, rug-headed jack-a-nape.
Thou art a poisonous bunch-back’d toad.
Two weeks before the Folio’s arrival, the Goffstown Public Library hosted an Open Mike Shakespearean Insult Challenge. The event saw fancy hats, waggling swords and fervid curses, drawn from plays or the Shakespeare Insult Generator by Barry Kraft. Six verbal jousters went head-to-head among the sea of regular open-mike presenters at Apotheca Flower & Tea Chest in Goffstown. Participants and listeners wore period hats borrowed from the Currier and Majestic Theatre, and a life-sized stand of William Shakespeare stood at the back of the room. Several offered bows before delivering their insults, and one man, “Sir” Warren Denby, came in full costume.
“For us, [having the Folio] was very exciting, because we see and hear [Shakespeare] in our everyday language. There are phrases attributed to Shakespeare we hear all the time and don’t even think about it,” Goffstown Librarian Sandy Whipple said via phone.
Some of those phrases: “be-all and end-all” from Macbeth,“as luck would have it” from The Merry Wives of Windsor and “to thine own self be true” from Hamlet. In addition to the faithful retellings, Hollywood has also used Shakespeare as the basis for many popular, unsuspecting movies, like She’s the Man, The Lion King, West Side Story, Forbidden Planet and 10 Things I Hate About You.
“I think that just illustrates the relevance of his work,” Whipple said. “We’re having a really interesting time, bringing it to life in ways that resonate with people today.”
The Goffstown Library is full of Shakespeare programming this spring; its cookbook club delved into “Shakespeare’s kitchen” in early March, and its book club read Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard. At the end of the month, it hosts an open-mike Shakespearean sonnet challenge.
Lots of libraries in the greater Manchester area are hosting special events. The Nesmith Library is giving wrapped Shakespeare books to patrons, and the Wadleigh Memorial Library is hosting a Shakespeare workshop teaching how to deliver monologues and portray popular Shakespeare scenes.
At the Derry Public Library, Cahoon is presenting a program, “Women and Love in Shakespeare,” in which she’ll read sonnets and selections from Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, and look at how Shakespeare deals with love, women and gender roles. There weren’t a lot of female writers at the time, nor a lot of men writing about women. 
“One of the things that comes out very clearly when you look at the work. … This is someone who was writing 400 years ago, and he writes women better than many of the people who are writing  today. It’s amazing when you read the things these women are saying,” Cahoon said. “He’s very in tune with the female psyche … and what women can do or say, and what women cannot do or say. We’re still struggling with those issues. They’re still relevant in society.”
Carolyn Gamtso, associate professor and head of reference and instruction at UNH Manchester, said she’s not at all surprised at the hubbub surrounding the Folio’s visit.
“When I reached out to colleagues in public libraries, they picked up the ball and ran with it,” she said.
Demystifying the bard
It’s the hope among the state’s Shakespeare nerds that, through accessibility to the First Folio and the programs available this month, other people might become less intimidated appreciators, even while knowing they won’t understand every word verbatim.
“And why should they? We don’t speak his language; it has moved on. We share a good deal of language with Shakespeare, but there’s no good reason why a civilian should know all of these words,” Lanier said. “I don’t understand every single word of what I’m hearing. But it doesn’t matter.”
The Folio tour and New Hampshire programming means to make the author more accessible for kids and adults alike, which was important even back when Shakespeare was still alive — “groundling” standing-only tickets cost just one pence. It’s important that more people get on board with the bard, in Lanier’s opinion, because his characters, stories and themes are timeless and global.
Julius Caesar is a play about assassination — what you do about leaders you really, fundamentally disagree with, and how you handle those disagreements with those leaders — and the aftermath of engaging in what was, in fact, a terrorist attack,” Lanier said. “It’s remarkable to see how many different cultures have reproduced words of his in their own languages. … He must be saying something to them, or they wouldn’t think he was worth appropriating for their own uses.” 

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