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Shakespeare Uncovered Previous Broadcasts

Richard III with Antony Sher (Episode #306H)

KQED Plus: Wed, Nov 21, 2018 -- 3:00 PM

Shakespeare's Richard III is one of the most infamous villains of all time - and one of the most relished. This episode explains how Shakespeare created both a loathsome and brilliant manipulator, as well as a real man who speaks to every age. Shakespeare's history plays are at least as much play as history. They hinge on character, on strength and on frailty, and what humans will resort to in order to achieve power. While historians still debate the merits and vices of King Richard, there is no evidence that he was the villain Tudor historians described; indeed, his reign of only two years brought some positive changes.

The Winter's Tale with Simon Russell Beale (Episode #305H)

KQED Plus: Wed, Nov 14, 2018 -- 3:00 PM

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 1613-14, 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 accuses her of an affair with his old friend. Acting like a man possessed, he orders his friend killed and his pregnant wife imprisoned. In 17th-century marriages, even royal ones, a wife believed guilty of adultery could indeed be brutally punished. The play's second half, something of an idyllic comedy despite the stark and brutal first half of the play, returns the people Leontes thought he lost through one of the greatest theatrical coups of all time, a magic trick that uses no magic. Beale shows that in this play, Shakespeare offers something for which everyone longs: to reverse time, to make amends for an irreversible mistake.

Julius Caesar with Brian Cox (Episode #304H)

KQED Plus: Wed, Nov 7, 2018 -- 3:00 PM

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 Brutus a traitor or a great hero and defender of liberty? Brian Cox explores how Julius Caesar is Shakespeare's "American" play, showing how easy it is for a "free" republic to fall into corruption. More than that, the play challenges us to think about who or what to trust and what values we want to live by - and to look inside and wonder how well we even know ourselves.

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