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Folger Podcasts

Fresh thoughts on Shakespeare and his times

"From an Ill-Spun Wool"

The Second Shepherds' Play and Early English Theater


In this three-part series, producer Richard Paul talks with artists, scholars, and medievalists about this most mysterious of mystery plays. 


Narrated by Folger Director Gail Kern Paster.


Staging the Play 

Folger Consort co-founder Bob Eisenstein and director/adaptor Mary Hall Surface share their thoughts on bringing this early English drama to 21st-century Folger audiences.



Rediscovering our theatrical past 

Scholars Theresa Coletti and Barbara Palmer talk about the vast world of early English theater—a sprawling heritage that's still too often overlooked.



The mystery behind the mystery play 

Producer Richard Paul explores recent literary detective work into the true origins of The Second Shepherds' Play.



Shakespeare in American Life

A documentary for public radio

Shakespeare Becomes American: Shakespeare in Performance

Shakespeare is everywhere in America, including musicals, festivals, television, and the movies.  The documentary explores how American Shakespeare has been shaped by the American experience.  From the young nation’s earliest days, when an “American” acting style first took shape, to the influence of African-Americans on Shakespeare on stage, to method acting, to Hollywood, America and Americans—actors, directors, and audiences—have made Shakespeare our own.

Download Shakespeare in American Performance (55 minutes long)

Shakespeare in American Education and Civic Life

After the American revolution, there were real questions about whether America should adopt British culture and literature—including Shakespeare’s plays—or create its own.  The documentary follows Shakespeare’s path in the years that followed, including his surprisingly late arrival in the classroom and his role in major movements like the push west, the establishment of cities, the Civil War, and the immigrant experience.  It also explores America’s fascination with Shakespeare outdoors.


Download Shakespeare in American Education & Civic Life

Shakespeare in American Politics
John Adams was a Shakespeare enthusiast who filled his diaries with mentions of the plays.  Janet Reno assembled her staff to read King Lear.  In 1849, disputes over British and American acting styles touched off a deadly riot. The most famous black Shakespearean of the 19th century was an American who went to Europe after he saw black actors arrested for performing Shakespeare in the US. In the 1980s, Shakespeare was drawn into battles over race and gender on college campuses.  This program explores how Shakespeare’s work has intertwined itself with American electoral politics, geopolitics, and racial, class and academic politics.  It also explores how Shakespeare has been used for political purposes throughout American history.

Download Shakespeare in American Politics


Sam Waterston

Falstaff brand Brussels sprouts


Past Winners O.B. Hardison Poetry Prize

Past Readers Emily Dickinson Birthday Tribute Reading

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