This series combines history, biography, iconic performances, analysis and the personal passion of its hosts to tell the story behind the stories of Shakespeare's greatest plays. Each episode combines interviews with actors, directors and scholars, along with visits to key locations, clips from some of the most celebrated film and television adaptations, and illustrative excerpts from the plays especially staged for the series at Shakespeare's Globe in London.
A Midsummer Night's Dream with Hugh Bonneville (#201) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
Hugh Bonneville started his career as an understudy for Ralph Fiennes in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Open Air Theatre in London's Regent's Park. He revisits the theatre where his love for Shakespeare blossomed and catches up with Ralph to talk about why the play has enduring appeal. Interviews include David Walliams and Sheridan Smith.
King Lear with Christopher Plummer (#202) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG-V (Secondary audio: none)
Actor Christopher Plummer originally played the role of King Lear under the direction of Sir Jonathan Miller, who has directed the play six times. Plummer explores how the work might have been staged during Shakespeare's time, and acclaimed actors Sir Ian McKellen and Simon Russell Beale give their insight into playing the part of the troubled king.
Macbeth with Ethan Hawke (#101) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TV14 (Secondary audio: none)
Ethan Hawke invites viewers to join him in his quest to play Shakespeare's murderous Thane of Cawdor by uncovering the true story that served as inspiration, immersing himself in some of the most memorable and innovative productions and discovering Shakespeare's extraordinary insights into the criminal mind.
The Taming of the Shrew with Morgan Freeman (#203) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
In 1990, Morgan Freeman famously starred in a Wild West version of The Taming of the Shrew for Shakespeare in the Park in New York. Freeman sets out to understand how and why the play, one of the Bard's first works, was written. Interviews include Tracey Ullman, Sinead Cusack and Julia Stiles.
Othello with David Harewood (#204) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG-VL (Secondary audio: none)
In 1997, David Harewood was the first black actor to play Othello on stage at the National Theatre in London. In this episode, he unravels the complex issues of prejudice and jealousy that are threaded throughout the play, as well as returning to the National to meet the most recent actor to take on the role at the theatre, Adrian Lester. Interviews include Simon Russell Beale, Ian McKellen, Julia Stiles and Patrick Stewart.
Antony & Cleopatra with Kim Cattrall (#205H) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: DVI)
Kim Cattrall has played the role of Cleopatra twice and meets others who have, as well - like Janet Suzman, who is renowned for her performance with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Together, they begin to uncover the truth behind Shakespeare's "middle-aged" love story. Cattrall also travels to Rome and examines possible inspirations for the play. Contributors include Harriet Walter and Vanessa Redgrave.
Romeo & Juliet with Joseph Fiennes (#206H) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG-S (Secondary audio: DVI)
Joseph Fiennes, the star of Shakespeare in Love, examines Royal Ballet productions, musicals such as West Side Story and Baz Luhrmann's extraordinary cinematic re-imagination of Romeo & Juliet to understand why the love story remains the most adapted and performed of all of Shakespeare's works. Features interviews with Orlando Bloom, Condola Rashad and Stephen Sondheim.
Richard II with Derek Jacobi (#103) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
Derek Jacobi returns to a role he played 30 years ago, coaches actors at the Globe in aspects of the play, reveals why it could have cost Shakespeare his life - and shares some of the extraordinary modern political parallels within the play that still resonate as dictators are deposed. Also featured are notable excerpts from the Great Performances film adaptation starring Ben Whishaw and Patrick Stewart.
Henry IV & Henry V with Jeremy Irons (#104) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
Jeremy Irons (who stars as Henry IV in the Great Performances film adaptation) uncovers the enduring appeal of Shakespeare's "history plays," from the facts of English history to the father-son drama that Shakespeare created. He discloses what Shakespeare's sources were - and how he distorted them. He invites the viewer behind the scenes at the filming of some of the most important sequences in the new Great Performances adaptations of both plays, starring Irons, with Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal.
Hamlet with David Tennant (#105) Duration: 56:46 STEREO TVPG (Secondary audio: none)
An acclaimed Hamlet himself in the RSC's recent hit production (and another recent Great Performances production), David Tennant meets with fellow Hamlets, including superstar Jude Law, comparing notes on the titanic challenge of playing the most iconic of all roles. He also tries, alongside Simon Russell Beale and Ben Whishaw, to master the meaning of the play and the reason why it is considered the greatest of Shakespeare's works.