show episodes
 
Theatre professionals, artists, vloggers and other guests from around the world join resident Shakespeare Birthplace Trust experts Paul and Anjna to discuss Shakespeare's place in the 21st century. We hear about their relationships with Shakespeare in the modern world and take a fresh look at Shakespeare in today's society.
 
Brought to you by The Close Reads Podcast Network, The Play's the Thing is the ultimate resource for lovers of Shakespeare. Dedicating six episodes to each play (one per act, plus a Q&A episode), this podcast explores the themes, scenes, characters, and lines that make Shakespeare so memorable. In the end, we will cover every play The Bard wrote, thus permitting an ongoing contemplation and celebration of the most important writer of all time. Join us. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and o ...
 
Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare's late romances, which (like The Tempest and The Winter's Tale) combines comedy and tragedy. Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline of Britain, angers her father when she marries Posthumus, a worthy but penniless gentleman. The King banishes Posthumus, who goes to Rome, where he falls prey to the machinations of Iachimo, who tries to convince him that Imogen will be unfaithful. Meanwhile, the Queen (Imogen's stepmother) plots against her stepdaughter by trying ...
 
LibriVox readers present the third collection of monologues from Shakespeare's plays. Containing 20 parts. - William Shakespeare (April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) remains widely to be considered the single greatest playwright of all time. He wrote in such a variety of genres - tragedy, comedy, romance, &c - that there is always at least one monologue in each of his plays. Some of these teach a lesson, some simply characterize Shakespeare at his best, some are funny, some sad, but all are ver ...
 
LibriVox readers present the second collection of monologues from Shakespeare’s plays. Containing 15 parts. William Shakespeare (April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) remains widely to be considered the single greatest playwright of all time. He wrote in such a variety of genres - tragedy, comedy, romance, &c - that there is always at least one monologue in each of his plays. Some of these teach a lesson, some simply characterize Shakespeare at his best, some are funny, some sad, but all are very ...
 
LibriVox readers present the fourth collection of monologues from Shakespeare’s plays. Containing 20 parts. William Shakespeare (April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) remains widely to be considered the single greatest playwright of all time. He wrote in such a variety of genres - tragedy, comedy, romance, &c - that there is always at least one monologue in each of his plays. Some of these teach a lesson, some simply characterize Shakespeare at his best, some are funny, some sad, but all are very ...
 
William Shakespeare (April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) remains widely to be considered the single greatest playwright of all time. He wrote in such a variety of genres - tragedy, comedy, romance, &c - that there is always at least one monologue in each of his plays. Some of these teach a lesson, some simply characterize Shakespeare at his best, some are funny, some sad, but all are very moving. Each monologue will touch everybody differently. Some people will be so moved by a particular monol ...
 
William Shakespeare’s most well-known play is more than most people realize. While it is the story of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, it is also the story of two families in the middle of a bitter feud. Many people avoid the story because they believe it will be too difficult to read, but this is not true at all. Within a few paragraphs, the play captures your imagination and attention. Juliet is 13 years old and is love with the son of her father’s enemy. Her father has promised that ...
 
Emma Williams talks to interesting people from the worlds of philosophy and the arts about mental health. Emma and her guests reflect on what different writers and thinkers would say on the topic of mental health, and gain new insights into the human condition. Inspired by Samuel Beckett's idea: 'you're on earth, there's no cure for that', this podcast series is created as part of Emma's research in philosophy and education at Warwick University. Funded by the British Academy and Philosophy ...
 
This personal anthology is my choice of speeches from Shakespeare that I enjoy reading (that I would like to have had by heart years ago!) and that seem to me to illustrate his unsurpassed use of language. He was a man who seemed to know everything about human nature and as Orson Welles said ‘he speaks to everyone and we all claim him’. I know that it has been said that ‘it is impossible to be a great Shakespearian actor without an idiosyncratic and extraordinary voice’ and this may be so, b ...
 
Shakespeare's pastoral comedy was written and first performed around 1599, and presents some of his familiar motifs: a cross-dressing heroine, a wise-cracking fool, brothers usurping their brothers' power, a journey from the court to the country, and various romantic entanglements. (Summary by Elizabeth Klett)CastOrlando: Arielle LipshawAdam/Hymen: Kevin GreenOliver/Le Beau/First Lord/First Page: ToddTouchstone/Dennis/First Lord/Forester: KristingjCharles/Second Lord/Jaques de Boys: Algy Pug ...
 
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the play dramatizes the revenge Prince Hamlet exacts on his uncle Claudius for murdering King Hamlet, Claudius's brother and Prince Hamlet's father, and then succeeding to the throne and taking as his wife Gertrude, the old king's widow and Prince Hamlet's mother. The play vividly portrays both true and feigned madness – from overwhelming grief to seething rage – and explores themes o ...
 
Love's Labour's Lost is an early comedy by William Shakespeare. The King of Navarre and his three friends take a vow of study and seclusion for three years, during which they are forbidden to see or speak to women. Their vows are immediately tested by the arrival of the Pricess of France and her three ladies to the King's court. (Summary by Elizabeth Klett)Cast:Biron: mbBoyet: Mark PenfoldCostard: John D. NugentDon Adriano de Armado: David GoldfarbDull:David LawrenceDumain: om123Ferdinand: B ...
 
Shakespeare was passionately interested in the history of Rome, as is evident from plays like Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra. His tragedy Coriolanus was probably written around 1605-07, and dramatizes the rise and fall of a great Roman general, Caius Martius (later surnamed Coriolanus because of his military victory at Corioli). This play is unusual in that it provides a strong voice for the ordinary citizens of Rome, who begin the play rioting about the high price ...
 
Shakespeare's festive comedy combines classical Athenian characters (Duke Theseus and his conquered Amazonian bride Hippolyta) with four contentious lovers, a forest full of quarreling and mischievous fairies and adds a dose of amateur theatre for good measure. (Summary by Elizabeth Klett) Cast Theseus/Oberon: Algy Pug Hippolyta/Titania: Elizabeth Klett Philostrate/Puck: Amy Gramour Egeus: Bruce Pirie Hermia: Elizabeth Barr Lysander: Dan Raynham Demetrius: Bear Schacht Helena: Kristingj Pete ...
 
Hidden and mistaken identities, requited and unrequited loves, pranks and jokes abound in this romantic comedy. (Summary by Karen Savage)Cast: Orsino, Duke of Illyria - Joshua B. Christensen Sebastian - Madame Tusk Antonio, a Sea Captain, friend to Sebastian - Alan Davis Drake A Sea Captain - Kara Shallenberg Valentine, a gentleman attending on the Duke - Zachary Brewster-Geisz Curio, a gentleman attending on the Duke - Heather Barnett Sir Toby Belch, uncle to Olivia - Alan Davis Drake Sir A ...
 
Othello is the story of a cross-cultural romance between the title character, a noble moor who is a general in the Venetian army, and Desdemona, a beautiful and virtuous Venetian lady. The newly-married couple fall prey to the machinations of Iago, Othello's jealous ensign, who plots to destroy their union. (Summary by Elizabeth Klett) Cast: Duke of Venice: Filippo Gioachin Brabantio: om123 First Senator: David Lawrence Second Senator: Lucy Perry Gratiano: Denny Sayers Lodovico: Lars Rolande ...
 
The Passionate Pilgrim was published by William Jaggard, later the publisher of Shakespeare's First Folio. The first edition survives only in a single fragmentary copy; its date cannot be fixed with certainty since its title page is missing, though many scholars judge it likely to be from 1599, the year the second edition appeared with the attribution to Shakespeare.This version of The Passionate Pilgrim, contains 15 romantic sonnets and short poems. The works contained, while disputed as to ...
 
LibriVox readers present the fifth collection of monologues from Shakespeare’s plays. Containing 20 parts. William Shakespeare (April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616) remains widely to be considered the single greatest playwright of all time. He wrote in such a variety of genres - tragedy, comedy, romance, &c - that there is always at least one monologue in each of his plays. Some of these teach a lesson, some simply characterize Shakespeare at his best, some are funny, some sad, but all are very ...
 
Generally considered one of Shakespeare's problem plays, Measure for Measure examines the ideas of sin and justice. Duke Vincentio turns Vienna's rule over to the corrupt Angelo, who sentences Claudio to death for having impregnated a woman before marriage. His sister Isabella, a novice nun, pleads for her brother's life, only to be told that he will be spared if she agrees to relinquish her virginity to Angelo. (Summary by wildemoose) Cast: Abhorson: John D. Nugent Angelo: Roger Clifton Bar ...
 
The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the play dramatizes the revenge Prince Hamlet exacts on his uncle Claudius for murdering King Hamlet, Claudius's brother and Prince Hamlet's father, and then succeeding to the throne and taking as his wife Gertrude, the old king's widow and Prince Hamlet's mother. The play vividly portrays both true and feigned madness – from overwhelming grief to seething rage – and explores themes o ...
 
Written around the middle of his career, Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's great festive comedies. The men are back from the war, and everyone is ready for romance. The dashing young Claudio falls for Hero, the daughter of Leonato, governor of Messina, and his friend Don Pedro helps him secure her affection. These youthful lovers are contrasted with the more experienced (and more cynical) Benedick and Beatrice, who have to be tricked into falling in love. Don Pedro's bastard bro ...
 
The Tragedy of King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after foolishly disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological pre-Roman Celtic king. It has been widely adapted for the stage and motion pictures, and the role of Lear has been coveted and played by many of the world's most accomplished actors. The ...
 
Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607. It was first printed in the First Folio of 1623. The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Life of Marcus Antonius and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony from the time of the Parthian War to Cleopatra's suicide. The major antagonist is Octavius Caesar, one of Antony's fellow triumviri and the future first emperor of Rome. The trag ...
 
Despite its optimistic title, Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well has often been considered a "problem play." Ostensibly a comedy, the play also has fairy tale elements, as it focuses on Helena, a virtuous orphan, who loves Bertram, the haughty son of her protectress, the Countess of Rousillon. When Bertram, desperate for adventure, leaves Rousillon to serve in the King's army, Helena pursues him.
 
Mad with jealousy, King Leontes of Sicilia orders his best friend Polixenes killed, his child abandoned, and his wife put on trial for adultery. Sixteen years later, Perdita, raised as a shepherd's daughter, falls in love with Polixenes's royal son and returns to her father's kingdom. (Summary by Arielle Lipshaw)Cast:Antigonus: John DoyleArchidamus: David NicolAutolycus: Algy PugCamillo: mbCleomenes: Vicente Costa FilhoClown: BaggzDion: Robert FletcherDorcas: Patti CunninghamEmilia: Laurie A ...
 
Two households, both alike in dignity,In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.From forth the fatal loins of these two foesA pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;Whose misadventured piteous overthrowsDo with their death bury their parents' strife.(Summary from the Prologue)Cast:Narrator: Laurie Anne WaldenRomeo: mbJuliet: Beth ThomasNurse: Arielle LipshawFriar Laurence: Denny SayersMercutio: Eden Rea-Hed ...
 
Cymbeline is one of Shakespeare's late romances, which (like The Tempest and The Winter's Tale) combines comedy and tragedy. Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline of Britain, angers her father when she marries Posthumus, a worthy but penniless gentleman. The King banishes Posthumus, who goes to Rome, where he falls prey to the machinations of Iachimo, who tries to convince him that Imogen will be unfaithful. Meanwhile, the Queen (Imogen's stepmother) plots against her stepdaughter by trying ...
 
Troilus and Cressida is Shakespeare's "problem" play about the Trojan War. As the opening Chorus tells us, the play "begins in the middle" of the epic conflict, and counterpoints the drama of battle with the romance of the title characters. Just as Agamemnon and his Greek forces (particularly the smooth-tongued Ulysses) attempt to woo the invincible Achilles to resume fighting on their side, the Trojan go-between Pandarus tries to bring together Troilus, a son of King Priam, with his niece, ...
 
The Two Gentlemen of Verona is the earliest comedy written by Shakespeare (and possibly his first play), probably written around 1590-91. It focuses on two friends, Valentine and Proteus, whose friendship is disrupted by their mutual passion for the lovely Silvia. Proteus jilts Julia in order to pursue Silvia; she responds by enlisting the help of her maid Lucetta to dress as a boy and go after Proteus. The play also includes some wonderfully comic supporting characters, particularly Launce ...
 
After the turmoil and uncertainty of Henry IV a new era appears to dawn for England with the accession of the eponymous Henry V. In this sunny pageant, the Chorus guides us along Henry's glittering carpet ride of success as the new king completes his transformation from rebellious wastrel to a truly regal potentate. Of course, there is an underlying feeling that the good times won't last, and this is all the more reason to enjoy the Indian summer before the protracted and bitter fall of the ...
 
Written around the middle of his career, Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare's great festive comedies. The men are back from the war, and everyone is ready for romance. The dashing young Claudio falls for Hero, the daughter of Leonato, governor of Messina, and his friend Don Pedro helps him secure her affection. These youthful lovers are contrasted with the more experienced (and more cynical) Benedick and Beatrice, who have to be tricked into falling in love. Don Pedro's bastard bro ...
 
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show series
 
‘You can be alive, but have you taken on your life. Those are very very different things.' – Sarah Beckwith, Katherine Everett Gilbert Distinguished Professor of English In the third episode of the series, Emma talks to Professor Sarah Beckwith about mental health and the works of William Shakespeare. On this episode: Sarah Beckwith is Katherine Ev…
 
In William Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part 2, the character Jack Cade declares himself Lord Mortimer of London by striking London Stone and then sitting upon the stone to declare his royalty. While it makes a dramatic scene for a theatrical play, this story was based in actual history and the way Shakespeare tells the story tells us as modern theater g…
 
So shall I live, supposing thou art true, Like a deceived husband, so love's face May still seem love to me, though alter'd new: Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place. For there can live no hatred in thine eye, Therefore in that I cannot know thy change. In many's looks the false heart's history Is writ in moods and frowns and wrinkles strang…
 
We live in a politically-charged age -- how can anyone deny that? But it's likely true that there has never been an age that hasn't been touched by politics at all, whether by the formal politics of our various governmental systems or the personal politics of our daily interactions; Aristotle himself claimed that human beings are inherently politic…
 
When William Shakespeare died, he left on his gravestone a formidable curse, warning anyone who dared steal his bones after death. You can see this curse today on his gravestone inside Holy Trinity Church and it reads Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forebear To dig the dust enclosed here Blessed be the man who spares these stones And cursed be he that…
 
But do thy worst to steal thyself away, For term of life thou art assured mine, And life no longer than thy love will stay, For it depends upon that love of thine. Then need I not to fear the worst of wrongs, When in the least of them my life hath end; I see a better state to me belongs Than that which on thy humor doth depend. Thou canst not vex m…
 
The English playwright Thomas Kyd is one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries who arguably has as much, if not more, influence on the development of Renaissance theater than even the bard himself. Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy is thought to have introduced to 16th century English theater a tragic format Shakespeare would later apply in his famous tragedy, H…
 
Some glory in their birth, some in their skill, Some in their wealth, some in their body's force, Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill, Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse; And every humor hath his adjunct pleasure, Wherein it finds a joy above the rest, But these particulars are not my measure, All these I better in one g…
 
Was Shakespeare anti-semitic? In this bonus episode, Tim chats about this question with special guest Judith "Sparky" Roberts. Sparky comes from a Jewish background and was a theatre teacher at the University of Oregon and Lane Community College. Her graduate study, at Brandeis University, was under the great American Shakespearean actor, Morris Ca…
 
Power, politics, ambition, and honour. Four human facets set across the backdrop of a failing Republic. Is Julius Caesar the most topical play to talk about on November 3, 2020? Yes, but we swear we didn't plan it that way - sometimes the stars simply align. We talked about the characters and their foibles, the historical factors that fed into the …
 
In the first episode of Disquieted Life, Emma talks to the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips about mental health and the ideas of the physician and writer Sigmund Freud. ‘Medicine is not a good model for so-called mental health, because there isn’t something really called mental health, people are more or less unhappy, more or less troubled, more or less…
 
Shakespeare’s play King Lear is based upon the story of the ancient British King who founded Leicester in England, written by Geoffrey Monmouth. Monmouth based his story on real elements of Leicester’s history, including the Jewry Wall and ancient roman tombs, some of which are still there in Leicester today. For the 16th century, this story was al…
 
The second episode in the Disquieted Life series sees Emma talk to the philosopher Paul Standish about mental health and the ideas of the thinker Stanley Cavell. ‘A lot of the problems we’re seeing as mental problems and psychological problems are part of the human condition, and learning to live well with that seems to me what we should be looking…
 
Resident Shakespeare Birthplace Trust experts, Drs Paul Edmondson and Anjna Chouhan, are joined by esteemed guests from across the globe to get their perspectives on Shakespeare’s place in the 21st century. Each week from 17 November, the duo will be chatting with theatre professionals, artists and vloggers about their relationships with Shakespear…
 
In the late 1590s as William Shakespeare was writing Henry V, and the famous battle scene of Agincourt, there was a cultural battle going on between the older and younger generations of men in England concerning the use of the longbow. As Shakespeare staged Henry V in 1605, he did so with the obvious absence of the very longbows that are considered…
 
Then hate me when thou wilt, if ever, now, Now while the world is bent my deeds to cross, Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow, And do not drop in for an after-loss. Ah, do not, when my heart hath scap'd this sorrow, Come in the rearward of a conquer'd woe; Give not a windy night a rainy morrow, To linger out a purpos'd overthrow. If thou wi…
 
What goes on behind the scenes to run a full-scale Shakespeare festival? How are the plays selected? How long does it take? How much does it cost? This episode we found out the answers to all these questions with the delightful help of Freewill Shakespeare Festival, the Bicks' very own local Shakespeare show that's been running for just over 30 yea…
 
The 16th century was the first time English history, and the first time in most of European history, that the average person started carrying a weapon as a matter of daily life. The rapier specifically came into fashion in England in the mid 16th century, and while it plays a prominent role in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare mentions th…
 
Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault, And I will comment upon that offense; Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt, Against thy reasons making no defense. Thou canst not, love, disgrace me half so ill, To set a form upon desired change, As I'll myself disgrace, knowing thy will: I will acquaintance strangle and look strange, Be abs…
 
When thou shalt be dispos'd to set me light, And place my merit in the eye of scorn, Upon thy side against myself I'll fight, And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn. With mine own weakness being best acquainted, Upon thy part I can set down a story Of faults conceal'd, wherein I am attainted, That thou in losing me shall win much glory. …
 
Henry V is one of Shakespeare's grandest and most legendary plays, partly because it depicts the stunning historical victories of one of England's greatest kings, but also because Shakespeare skillfully weaves so many universal themes into the events of this play. From masculinity and warfare and what makes a great king to death and the loyalty of …
 
Society in Elizabethan England is well known for being divided by class. There were workers, peasants, aristocracy, and even a kind of middle class but what was the definition of a labourer? When it comes to exploring the roles of characters like Ariel and Caliban in Shakespeare’s Tempest it is important to understand the 16th century mindset towar…
 
Following its prominent use in the decisive victory of the English against the French in the Battle of Agincourt, the English longbow was a stalwart image of English patriotism well into the 1590s. Having been a favorite weapon for the famous Kings of England like Henry V, but also Edward III and Elizabeth I’s father, Henry VIII, the English longbo…
 
Why is it so easy to buy trinkets and knick-knacks with the face of an English poet who's been dead for 400 years? More importantly, why are we so willing to buy them? Those questions are the crux of what we're getting to in this week's podcast: the Shakespeare economy. We take a dive through the fundamental questions around selling art in the mode…
 
Farewell, thou art too dear for my possessing, And like enough thou know'st thy estimate; The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing; My bonds in thee are all determinate. For how do I hold thee but by thy granting, And for that riches where is my deserving? The cause of this fair gift in me is wanting, And so my patent back again is swerving. T…
 
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