Shakespeare's plays - whether a comedy like A Midsummer Night's Dream, a history like Henry IV, or a tragedy like Hamlet - are treasure troves of insight into our very humanity. These 36 lectures introduce you to Shakespeare's major plays from each of these three genres and explain the achievement that makes him the leading playwright in Western civilization.
"Connections across genres"
Shakespeare's works are among the greatest of humanity's cultural expressions and, as such, demand to be experienced and understood. But, simply put, Shakespeare is difficult. His language and culture - those of Elizabethan England - are greatly different from our own, and his poetry, thick with metaphorical imagery and double meanings, can be hard to penetrate.
"understanding the Bard"
Sir Ian McKellen, fresh from his performance as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, is Prospero, and heads a strong cast in Shakespeare’s last great play. The wronged duke raises a tempest to shipwreck his old opponents on his island so that he can ensure justice is done. With Emilia Fox as Miranda, Scott Handy in the pivotal role of the sprite Ariel, and Ben Owukwe as Caliban.
"Great Story, audio needs a little tweaking"
Hamlet, Shakespeare's most popular, and perhaps most puzzling play, follows the form of a "revenge tragedy", in which the hero, Hamlet, seeks vengeance against his father’s murderer, his uncle Claudius, now the king of Denmark. Much of its fascination, however, lies in its uncertainties. This new full-cast recording - based on the most respected edition of Shakespeare's classic - expertly produced by the Folger Theatre, is perfect for students, teachers, and the everyday listener.
"Loved the voice actors"
The most iconic love story of all time, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is an epic-scale tragedy of desire and revenge. Despite the bitter rivalry that exists between their families, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet have fallen madly in love. But when the long-running rivalry boils over into murder, the young couple must embark on a dangerous and deadly mission to preserve their love at any cost. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Calista Flockhart as Juliet.
"Listening to Shakespeare is easier than reading"
In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare creates a tragic world in which two young people fall in love. It is not simply that their families disapprove; the Montagues and the Capulets are engaged in a blood feud. This play, set in an extraordinary world, has become the quintessential story of young love. This new full-cast recording - based on the most respected edition of Shakespeare's classic - expertly produced by the Folger Theatre, is perfect for students, teachers, and the everyday listener.
Julius Caesar is one of Shakespeare’s most compelling Roman plays. The plot against Caesar and the infamous assassination scene make for unforgettable listening. Brutus, the true protagonist of the play, is mesmerizing in his psychological state of anguish, forced to choose between the bonds of friendship and his desire for patriotic justice.
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars"
In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare stages the workings of love in unexpected ways. In the woods outside Athens, two young men and two young women sort themselves into couples - but not before they form first one love triangle, and then another. The king and queen of fairyland, Oberon and Titania, battle over custody of an orphan boy. Oberon uses magic to make Titania fall in love with a weaver named Bottom, in an effort to distract Titania from the custody battle.
"Great for Reading along to the Folger edition!"
Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's most popular plays, is among the most powerful and influential tragedies in the English language. Promised a golden future as ruler of Scotland by three sinister witches, Macbeth murders the king in order to succeed to the throne. Tortured by his conscience and fearful of discovery, he becomes fatally enmeshed in a web of treachery and deceit.
"Voice actors don't match the characters"
Written in 1593, King Richard III is one of Shakespeare's earliest plays. This play differs from its predecessors, being amore structured piece, examining the development and motivations of a single character, Richard Duke of Gloucester, who will stop at nothing to gain control of the throne occupied by his brother Edward IV.
"Another NAXOS masterpiece!"
Paul Scofield, Siobhan McKenna and John Neville perform Twelfth Night. This is Shakespeare's comedy of gender confusion, in which a girl disguises herself as a man to be near the count she adores - only to be pursued by the woman he loves.
In the years leading up to 1606, since the death of Queen Elizabeth and the arrival in England of her successor, King James of Scotland, Shakespeare's great productivity had ebbed, and it may have seemed to some that his prolific genius was a thing of the past. But that year, at age 42, he found his footing again, finishing a play he had begun the previous autumn - King Lear - then writing two other great tragedies, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra.
"Detailed and satisfying"
In Othello, Shakespeare creates powerful drama from a marriage between the exotic Moor Othello and the Venetian lady Desdemona. Shakespeare builds many differences into his hero and heroine, including race, age, and cultural background. Yet most audiences believe the couple’s strong love would overcome these differences were it not for Iago, who sets out to destroy Othello.
Three classic radio productions from the BBC archives starring Nigel Hawthorne, Miriam Margolyes, Geraldine McEwan and a host of celebrated acting talent. These three legendary plays, performed by some of the best-known theatrical actors of the 20th century, are the perfect way to commemorate England's greatest dramatist.
"If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On"
Infamously known as the cursed Scottish play, Macbeth is perhaps Shakespeare’s darkest tragedy. When General Macbeth is foretold by three witches that he will one day be King of Scotland, Lady Macbeth convinces him to get rid of anyone who could stand in his way – including committing regicide. As Macbeth ascends to the throne through bloody murder, he becomes a tyrant consumed by fear and paranoia.
"Enjoyable all-cast performance"
In the world's most celebrated and lyrical love story, the sublime devotion of two young lovers transcends their earthly fate. The noble Veronese houses of Montague and Capulet are locked in a bitter feud. When Romeo (a Montague) and Juliet (a Capulet) fall in love, they are swept up in a series of violent events and cruel twists of fortune. Despite the passion and innocence of their love, they fall victim to the enmity between their families, and their story ends in tragedy.
The Folger Shakespeare Library, home to the world's largest Shakespeare collection, brings Julius Caesar to life with this new full-length, full-cast dramatic recording of its definitive Folger Edition.
The dead do not sleep in Denmark. Thrice the vision of the suddenly departed king has haunted the night watchmen. Upon seeing his own son, prince Hamlet, the ghost calls him away to divulge most nefarious secret. This most noble king was murdered by his own brother, Hamlet's uncle, who now wears his crown and beds his bride. To the prince he charges with the unholy quest to avenge his death and kill his murderer. Young Hamlet, shocked and amazed, swears to do the bloody deed. Thus begins one of the greatest works by the greatest English author - William Shakespeare.
"BUY THIS VERSION OF HAMLET"
The deadly feud between the Montagues and the Capulets forces Romeo and Juliet to wed in secret. What could possibly go wrong?
This widely studied play is one of the "best sellers" of the Shakespeare canon. This production is the sixth Shakespeare play in the series undertaken by Naxos AudioBooks in conjunction with Cambridge University Press.
"Great Performances - Classy Production"
Andrew Dickson's startlingly original and joyously entertaining Worlds Elsewhere traverses centuries and continents to reveal Shakespeare and his works in a fantastic array of new guises.... Antiapartheid activist, Bollywood screenwriter, Nazi pin-up, hero of the Wild West: this is Shakespeare as you have never seen him before.
Pericles, prince of Tyre, sets out to woo a princess and sails headlong into harrowing adventure. Pursued by an evil king, Pericles is blown from port to exotic port. Along the way he finds the love of his life, then loses her and their infant daughter in a storm-tossed sea. Happily, this is a romance - Shakespeare's first - where, in true storybook fashion, miracles reunite the lost with those who love them, bringing joy and safe harbor at last.
The focus of the book is on Shakespeare's London, how it influenced his drama, and how he represents it on stage. Taking listeners on an imaginative journey through the city, the book moves both chronologically, from beginning to end of Shakespeare's dramatic career, and geographically, traversing London from west to east.