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Shakespeare & Beyond

50 episodes and counting: Shakespeare Unlimited podcast explores race, imperialism, magic, music, Star Wars, and more

The Shakespeare Unlimited podcast connects Shakespeare and his plays with our world today through interviews with actors, directors, and scholars—but also with astronomers, a conservator, and a professional magician, among others.

The 50th episode, which deals with race, Othello, and how the Elizabethans portrayed blackness onstage, offers a startling, new interpretation of Desdemona’s handkerchief that is changing the way scholars understand the play.

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Shakespeare is a global phenomenon, and Shakespeare Unlimited investigates how his plays have been translated into different languages and different cultural settings. Despite Shakespeare’s imperialist roots around the globe, former British colonies in India, Africa, Hong Kong, and the Caribbean have embraced him as their own, leaving their distinct marks on stage and film versions of his plays.

We become better acquainted with Shakespeare through his plays, but also through the great actors whose iconic performances define his characters, whether in the theater or on the big screen. Their stories, too, are diverse and unexpected, including that of the famed American actress Charlotte Cushman, who starred as Romeo with her sister as Juliet.