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"
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.
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.
"Shakespeare Made Easy"
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"
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"
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"
This highly entertaining anthology of verse is the comic, tragic, tender, and telling story of life's seven ages, from childhood to old age. Within the framework of Shakespeare's speech, "The Seven Ages of Man," performed by Sir Ian McKellen, are 150 great poems from all ages, from Chaucer to Emily Dickinson to Walt Whitman and many others. The poem are presented by the finest cast ever assembled on one recording and includes Ralph Fiennes, Dame Judi Dench, John Cleese, Michael Caine, and more.
"The Anthology of 'Music-Makers'"
Experience Hamlet as a powerful full-cast drama with entertaining and enlightening commentary that explains what's what and who's who as the plot unfolds. To help you get the most out of Shakespeare, the narrator offers historical insights and background information, so you can enjoy the jokes, appreciate the references, and get a real sense of Shakespeare's world. The unabridged drama is also presented without commentary.
"What a great way to "read" Shakespeare"
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!"
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"
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"
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 Shakespeare's most controversial play, the opposing values of justice and mercy must be resolved. Antonio promises money to help his friend Bassanio woo Portia. He borrows the sum needed from the cruel Shylock, but there will be a dreadful penalty if the loan is not repaid. The golden world of Portia's Belmont calls forth some of Shakespeare's most lyrical love poetry. But the dark shadow of Shylock is never far from the heart of this brilliant comedy as it moves toward its courtroom climax.
"One Of Shakespeare's Best"
The skies over ancient Rome blaze with terrifying portents, and soothsayers warn Julius Caesar of approaching doom. As conspiracy swirls through the city, Shakespeare explores the deep repercussions of political murder on the human heart. A classic tale of duplicity, betrayal and murder, masterfully performed by an all-star, all-American cast in this BBC co-production.
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.
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"
Young Claudio has fallen for the lovely heiress Hero, who also loves him. Their path to the altar looks smooth, until the evil Don John intervenes. All ends happily, thanks to his incompetent assassins and the lucky discoveries of the bungling constable Dogberry. Central to the play, one of Shakespeare's best-loved comedies, are Beatrice and Benedick, masters of wit and sworn foes to marriage - until a plot is hatched to bring them together.
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"
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.
There are 83 copies of the First Folio in a vault beneath Capitol Hill - the world's largest collection. Well over 150 Indian movies are based on Shakespeare's plays - more than in any other nation. If current trends continue, there will soon be more high school students reading The Merchant of Venice in Mandarin Chinese than in early modern English. Why did this happen, and how? Ranging ambitiously across four continents and 400 years, Worlds Elsewhere is an eye-opening account of how Shakespeare went global.
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.