Shakespeare’s Theater and Stagecraft

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The Arc of Character in The Merchant of Venice
Begin this episode by tracing the historical background of Judaism in Elizabethan London, and how the portrayal of Shylock conforms to contemporary conventions of comic villains. Then see how Shakespeare breaks free of the stereotypes of his time, developing the character and the play as a penetrating meditation on justice…
Approaching Shakespeare—The Scene Begins
Consider four points of entry for understanding what's happening in a Shakespeare play. Learn how to approach a single dramatic scene, focusing on Shakespeare's richly metaphorical use of language. Begin to grasp the playwright's use of stagecraft, and how his plays require your own active participation and powers of imagination.
Politics as Theater in Henry IV, Part I
Here, the dynamic of appearance versus reality illuminates the making of a king. In the dual world of the Court and the Tavern, witness Shakespeare's use of theatrical role-playing to reveal Prince Hal and Falstaff to themselves, and grasp how Hal's journey to kingship takes on the nature of a…
Shakespeare: A Day At The Globe
Students trace the development of England's commercial and military power, and social and cultural life. This leads to a discussion of early theaters and the operations of the Globe--its architecture, stage design and galleries. Dramatic readings, authentic costumes and sound effects present Shakespearean drama as it may have looked to…
The Drama of Ideas in Henry V
In plumbing the riches of one of Shakespeare's greatest history plays, assess Henry's ambiguous relation to God as he manipulates faith and religion to his political ends. Grasp also how Henry employs the dynamics of theater, brilliantly "staging" each of his critical actions, and how he defeats the expectations of…
The Tragic Woman in Macbeth
Shakespeare's great tragic women are central to the functioning of his tragedies. Here, encounter the powerful figure of Lady Macbeth and observe how her arc of development as a character inversely mirrors her husband's. Grasp how Macbeth poignantly sounds the depths of meaninglessness as he confronts the abyss of his…
Romeo and Juliet—Words, Words, Words
Shakespeare's primary tool as a playwright is words themselves as dramatic expressions of character and meaning. In Romeo and Juliet, see how Shakespeare ingeniously uses language to distinguish class and personality, and how he uses the poetic form of the sonnet in creating a sublime language of love.
Harold Pinter: Art, Truth & Politics
"[A] passionate and astonishing speech, which mixed moral vigour with forensic detail... This was a man delivering an attack on American foreign policy, and Britain's subscription to it, with a controlled anger and a deadly irony. And, paradoxically, it reminded us why Pinter is such a formidable dramatist. He used…
Shakespeare in Italy
A source for inspiration Shakespeare was in love with Italy. A third of his plays are set in the country. For the Elizabethan playwright, it was the stage on which to explore his greatest themes - love and war, fidelity and betrayal, and above all, politics - and a treasure…
The Winter's Tale
This production is part of a famous series produced by BBC of all of William Shakespeare's plays. The resulting films, renowned for their loyalty to the text, utilized the best theatrical and television directors and brought highly praised performances from leading contemporary actors This romance revolves around a theme that…
Measure for Measure—Is This Comedy?
With Measure for Measure, you enter the world of Shakespeare's "problem plays"--dramas that seem neither truly comic nor tragic. Here, observe how Shakespeare creates Vienna, the play's setting, as a place of hypocrisy, deception, and trickery, where nothing is what it seems and all the tenets of comedy are subverted.
Shakespeare's Tragedies: A Commentary
Explore the characters, stories and central themes of Shakespearean tragedy. The program is based on an interview with Suzanne L. Wofford, Assistant Professor of English, Yale University, who describes the theater of Shakespeare's day and the nature of Shakespearean tragedy.