“Much Ado About Nothing” with Helen Hunt

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“Much Ado About Nothing” is one of 13 plays that Shakespeare set in Italy, a country that was warm, sensuous and inviting for any 16th-century Englishmen writing about lovers. Claudio and Hero are the conventional lovers, too tongue-tied to speak to each other; Beatrice and Benedick are the skeptics, too busy insulting each other to […]

Premiered October 12, 2018

“The Merchant of Venice” with F. Murray Abraham

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Shakespeare probably never met a Jewish person. Three centuries before “The Merchant of Venice” was written, England became the first country in medieval Europe to expel its Jewish population. Abraham addresses the ubiquitous anti-Semitism that characterized Europe in Shakespeare’s time. Comparing Shylock to the stock Jewish villain of the day, the episode looks at the […]

Premiered October 12, 2018

“Measure for Measure” with Romola Garai

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“Measure for Measure” takes an astonishingly timely look at sexual morality, hypocrisy and harassment. Shakespeare asks us to “measure” the price of liberty against the moral and social cost of libertinism. It’s a play about vice, the law and sexual corruption at the highest levels and, for nearly two centuries, it was considered too racy […]

Premiered October 19, 2018

“Julius Caesar” with Brian Cox

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Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” is a play that upholds liberty against tyranny. But what is tyranny? And who decides? Shakespeare doesn’t make it simple. In order to preserve the freedom of the Roman Republic, Julius Caesar, an “over-mighty” leader, is assassinated by Roman Senators led by Caesar’s friend Brutus. Caesar wanted to become an emperor. Is […]

Premiered October 19, 2018

“The Winter’s Tale” with Simon Russell Beale

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A “winter’s tale” was Jacobean slang for something fanciful and unreal — a campfire story. Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale,” written during the period 1609-1611, is classified as one of his late romances. This is a play driven by passion and obsession, by the uncontrollable jealousy of King Leontes, who recklessly rejects his wife’s love and […]

Premiered October 26, 2018

“Richard III” with Sir Antony Sher

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Shakespeare’s Richard III is one of the most infamous villains of all time — and one of the most relished. Sher explains how Shakespeare created both a loathsome and brilliant manipulator, as well as a real man. Shakespeare’s history play is at least as much play as history. They hinge on character, on strength and […]

Premiered October 26, 2018
Series II

A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Hugh Bonneville

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” Hugh Bonneville meets with Ralph Fiennes to try to untangle one of Shakespeare’s great comedies.

Premiered January 30, 2015
Video expires January 29, 2019