Iqbal Khan

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 128

“If, with Shakespeare, we can thrill and tease an audience into embracing unknowing, that is one of the most important gifts that we can give,” says director Iqbal Khan. Khan has directed at Shakespeare’s Globe, in the West End, and at the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he staged Much Ado About Nothing, Antony and Cleopatra, Tartuffe, and Othello. We talked to Khan about race in Shakespeare’s plays, the math and physics degrees he almost got, and the importance of staging Shakespeare’s complexities, contradictions, and "messiness." Khan is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

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From our Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published September 17, 2019. ©Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “Tell the Tale Anew,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. We had technical helped from Evan Marquart at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Dom Boucher at The Sound Company in London.

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MICHAEL WITMORE: Sometimes, when you’re lucky, you get a chance to talk with the smartest person in the room. I got to do that earlier this year, and now you get to do it, too.

From the Folger Shakespeare Library, this is Shakespeare Unlimited. I’m Michael Witmore, the Folger’s director. Last March, I moderated a Q-and-A about Othello at a conference on Race and Shakespeare at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. On stage with me was someone I knew only by reputation: Iqbal Khan, a brilliant theater director. He’s best known for digging into Shakespeare’s plays and unearthing all the parts that make them relevant to 21st-century audiences. But the more we talked and the more I learned about him, the more convinced I was that Iqbal Khan is the perfect guest for Shakespeare Unlimited. His unique life experience has brought him to a place where he represents the nexus of what we’re trying to explore with these conversations. He’s someone who thinks deeply about Shakespeare in broad, new, and exciting ways …. And he’s someone who’s bringing the benefits of all that thinking to theater-goers around the world.

Iqbal is also an authentically generous person, who agreed to take time from his directing work to come into a studio in London and talk.

We call this podcast episode “Tell the Tale Anew.” Iqbal Khan is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.


BARBARA BOGAEV: When you begin work on a new production of Shakespeare what criteria or checklist do you bring with you? I mean are there requirements that you feel every performance has to meet or things you feel every production must have to meet your standards?

IQBAL KHAN: No, I certainly don't presume to have a checklist to mark against Shakespeare and whether he qualifies or not. I suppose it's a bit more nebulous than that. I think I have to feel that when I'm being asked to do a Shakespeare play that I feel a concrete, visceral connection to the material now. We change and his plays change as we change and as the world changes. So when I'm asked to do a play, I read it and I, first of all, try and just listen to what it detonates in me.

BOGAEV: I love that idea of and that word that you use, detonate. Because I know when I go to see a Shakespeare play and I'm sitting in the audience I'm, kind of the back of my mind, I'm aware of all the times I've read the plays.

KHAN: Mm, exactly.

BOGAEV: But that this is a newI'm wanting this to be a new experience. Do you also have that very clear distinction in your mind of your whole literary experience of Shakespeare and how it's different from that theatrical experience?

KHAN: Well yeah because I think you're not just dealing with your past experience with their literature, but you're also dealing with your sense of its performance history. I suppose that first encounter with the piece again when asked to do it, I try as much as I can to kind of scrape away all of that other stuff. And I always take it from there. Because I suppose the guiding principle for me is that I want to do these old plays as if they're new plays because I want to speak to an audience. I want them to either feel refreshed if they're a traditional audience or, if they're new, I want them to feel like it genuinely speaks to their concerns and anxieties about the world as it is now.

BOGAEV: Hmm. Can you give us an example of what you've done with a production to achieve that detonation?

[CLIP from a rehearsal of Othello at the Royal Shakespeare Company, 2015. James Corrigan is Roderigo and Lucian Msamati is Iago.]

Tush, never tell me! I take it much unkindly
That though, Iago, who hast had my purse
As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.

‘Sblood, but you’ll not hear me!
If ever I did dream of such a matter,
Abhor me.

Thou toldst me thou didst hold him in thy hate.

Despise me
If I do not. Sit down.

KHAN: One of the most recent examples, most famous examples, was this recasting of Iago at the RSC as a black character.

[CLIP continues]

Three great ones of the city,
In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
Off-capped to him; and, by the faith of man,
I know my price, I am worth no worse a place.
But he, as loving his own pride and purposes,
Evades them with a bombast circumstance.

KHAN: I chose to kind of ask the question and to explore because I wanted to see if that place spoke to a 21st-century experience of race and difference. The way we experience it in the world now I think is much more nuanced than the kind of binary black/white thing that Elizabethan audiences might have encountered.

[CLIP continues]

          For “Certes,” says he,
          “I have already chose my officer.”
          And what was he?
          Forsooth, a great arithmetician,
          One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
          A fellow almost damned in a fair wife,
          That never set a squadron in the field,
          Nor the division of a battle knows
          More than a spinster.

KHAN: In casting a black Iago all the kind of easy assumptions of racism in the play get dislodged. When I proposed that to the RSC what I did before just saying, “Well this is how I want to do it”, I said, “I'd love to have a workshop where I had both a black actor and a white actor and do this.” I did the same scenes with the same direction as much as I could and played them with a black actor and a white actor to just see what of the DNA of the play survived, what gets distorted, and what might be refreshed by the experiment.

[CLIP continues]

IQBAL KHAN: Now, what if you go the other way around with this scene? Use your masculinity. Use your martial status.

Tush, never tell me! I take it much unkindly
That though, Iago, who hast had my purse
As if the strings were thine, shouldst know of this.

‘Sblood, but you’ll not hear me!

KHAN: I found only useful, enriching, more nuanced things happened to the play. That the essential DNA of the play remained intact because the play's motor is betrayal and othering, and the manipulation of these things is the game that Iago plays. But Iago doesn't have to be the thing himself. He doesn't have to be the racist. He manipulates others' anxieties.

BOGAEV: That is so interesting because it does, as you say, really play with the racial dynamic and the interpretations and it makes it much less of a black/white paradigm. And what you just said—I want to pick up on a question back or so about racism, black-on-black racism, and I think I understand what you're saying.

In an American context in which historically lighter-skinned African Americans or Afro-Caribbeans were prejudiced against the darker skinned, and then there was later the kind of a reversal of that. You know, “oreos” being blacks who acted too white are stigmatized by the black community. But maybe I need a little help understanding it in the British or a more international context. What are these different kinds of experiences, black experiences, you're talking about, that you're highlighting?

KHAN: Yeah. I'm not sure that it is massively different. I think particularly now that communities of color here have been informed by the dialogues and the experiences of what's happening across the pond as it were. But I suppose the assimilated and the unassimilated have very different experiences of the indigenous population.

Whereas Othello, at the beginning of the play might be a man who's sort of treated like a Lenny Kravitz, like a superstar other, and therefore is given that privileged position in that society, Iago has a very different kind of experience. He becomes one of us, as it were, and he can give the white man permission to make racist jokes if he laughs at it and all the rest of it. Or if a joke is made and Iago or a black man now was to take offense, that room would freeze. So there's a way that a person of color can manipulate anxieties around vocabularies of race that is very useful to an Iago.

[CLIP from a rehearsal of Othello at the Royal Shakespeare Company, 2015. James Corrigan is Roderigo and Lucian Msamati is Iago.]

For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In complement extern, ‘tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at.

BOGAEV: And you have a moment in the play where you do that in the opening scene with Iago and Roderigo, who's played by a white actor.

KHAN: At the very beginning, yeah. Yeah.

BOGAEV: And Roderigo refers to Othello as "thick lips."

[CLIP continues]

What a full fortune does the thick-lips owe
If he can carry ‘t thus.

BOGAEV: And you have Iago just freezes up and then he just makes a joke of the whole thing.

[CLIP continues]

[Iago and Roderigo blow raspberries.]

KHAN: Exactly. And in making a joke of it, he liberates that vocabulary in Roderigo even more. He gives him permission to be a certain thing, to give voice to a certain ugly instinct. That is present. It might be policed but it's present. What's interesting in the play is to sort of see what it takes for that ugly unsaid thing to be given voice.

BOGAEV: You also explore this whole idea of the noble Moor with Othello as well. He's okay with waterboarding and using torture to get Iago to tell him of Desdemona's infidelity. And it's so interesting because it's paradoxically, with all of these directorial choices I see you making… it seems as if you're freeing the play to go deeper, to go beyond race. Or not making race the central focus even though many of these choices involve race. And I was thinking that's also funny because every time someone interviews you they almost always talk about race. Is that just what happens when you're a nonwhite director in theater or is it because of this kind of dance you're doing?

KHAN: Yeah, yeah. I mean I suppose I don't think it's specific to a person of color. I think anybody who hasn't traditionally been allowed the privilege of doing these works is asked how you qualify. Like I've had to make the case for myself, maybe more than an equivalent white director would have had to. Whenever I'm asked about my legitimacy to do things with say Shakespeare, or— I did a production of Arthur Miller's Broken Glass and I was asked you know, "How, as a non-Jew, could I tell the story of a Jewish man?" You know, so much of our engagement with this material is to do with empathyto get beyond race.

BOGAEV: Although cultural appropriation though is such a minefield right now. I think it's fair to say it would be much more difficult for a white director to pull of this kind of exploration that you're going for. So why is it okay for you to confront racism in all its specificity applied to Afro-Caribbeans when you're Pakistani?

KHAN: Yeah, I mean, I think anybody can be challenged about their legitimacy to have certain conversations. And I think, you know, that challenge, that provocation is a good one because this has only been problematic in the last say 40 years, 30 years, and the previous 400 it was unproblematic. So it's okay that we're having these conversations and that they're problematic.

Ultimately, eventually, in an idealized future I would hope that anyone who has done the work, has prepared and cares enough, and isn't complacent in the way they appropriate or use images or tropes, is allowed to do what they want to do to it so long as what they're doing is serious and deeply felt.

BOGAEV: I think the other problem with our extremely polarized moment right now, though not just in race but politics and religion and ideology, is that as you say we're living in a world that has very complicated views on race and on the other. But it's a world that is also particularly intolerant of complexity or nuance. How do you build these bridges that you're talking about?

KHAN: I think that's key. I mean I'm not sure we do have particularly complicated views on race at the moment… well not in the dialogue that's happening. I think the experience is complicated. I think what is distressing at the moment is how binary, how reductive, the conversation is. Actually, which is why it's so important to do plays like Shakespeare's, thatI mean the glory of Shakespeare is the absence of Shakespeare in his plays. That there is no authoritative perception, that there is this multitude of voices vying for authority and it's a very complex experience.

I think we need to be prepared to have the complicated conversations and be prepared to not enter into them with a view to winning them, but to just have them, to learn. I think that's a big issue. I think people often only enter the conversation if they feel they have a strategy for success. And I sort of think it would be lovely if that could be put to one side and you just had the conversations.

BOGAEV: Well this leads us right into the other play I wanted to talk about. We've only talked about Othello and you've directed so many. You also got into some hot water with a production that was mounted in Toronto in last year, 2018.

You were brought in to work with high school students on The Merchant of Venice and, as I understand it, parents got so angry because they claimed that their children weren't comfortable with allegedly anti-Semitic portrayals and content in this production. And that the students were not given enough context for the production, those in the audience and maybe in the play also. The upshot was that the principal of the school was forced to resign. I've read the newspaper articles. They always… they try to give many sides, but it seems like they only give one version. What's your version of what happened there?

KHAN: Okay this is quite delicate. We were taking a one-man version of The Merchant of Venice to Toronto. It's a version of the play that we have done before. Shared it in workshops and developed it and, also, played it in the UK. School classes were in our rehearsal space, so I think about at least a third, maybe half of our rehearsal period involved having a classroom of young people in the room and having a conversation about what it is that we were doing.

Now it wasn't just Merchant of Venice. It's a play that is about a young man who walks on stage, he has a suitcase, and he tells the story of what's in that suitcase. And what's in that suitcase is oddly the last remaining fragments of things that belonged to his grandfather who died as a part of the Holocaust. And so he tells that story in parallel to telling the story of Merchant of Venice. What the play was ultimately doing was, ironically, it was talking about hate speech and talking about anti-Semitism, not as something that began with the Holocaust but that is centuries, over a millennia, old. And it had an example of Martin Luther's speech, a horrible, rabid, anti-Semitic speech, and the actor played the first half of that speech to the audience, which is challenging, it is shocking. But the whole point of doing it was to share with the audience how disgusting and ugly all of this was.

It was a very, very healthy experience. The teachers were thrilled by the conversations that were happening. We never had any negative statements from any of the students. They were thrilled to have the conversations. And when we shared the play we did two performances. We did an afternoon performance for the school kids and then in the evening we did a performance for parents, board members, and the public. And on both occasions, we had a rapturous response. I mean essentially the whole audience stood up and applauded us. And then we did Q&As after both performances. So if anybody had been upset I would have imagined that somebody would have said something there. Nobody did. So when we then subsequently heard about these I think it was a group of 20 parents who wrote to the newspapers.

BOGAEV: And these parents hadn't seen the play, correct?

KHAN: Exactly. None of these parents had seen the play. I mean I don't know the truth of this. It felt to me like those young people had perhaps been weaponized in terms of how they were going to be receiving anything or that what they communicated was distorted. And suddenly what was reported in the papers was just wrong in terms of what they said was happening in the play.

BOGAEV: Well again it's so ironic that in trying to raise awareness of, in this case, anti-Semitism and demonizing other you're being accused of it.

KHAN: Exactly. And hate speech. Exactly. Yeah, yeah.

BOGAEV: And hate speech, right. And Merchant of Venice it's always a minefield as well.

KHAN: Yes it is.

BOGAEV: What is the moral to this whole dust up? What did you take away from the experience?

KHAN: Well I think the sad thing was that there wasn't a conversation afterwards. What was very sad was that the intimidation that resulted from that meant that the school closed down any kind of debate. We were sort of erased from their social media pages and that conversation with us never happened. So I suppose the takeaway was that actually what happened was a closing down of conversation and that's sad, very sad.

BOGAEV: This whole story also reminds me of something else that you've talked about that I think is provocative, especially considering your role as a director. You said at one point in an interview that, "Contradiction is peculiar to what Shakespeare does. He never just dramatizes evil. He dramatizes the awful things that good people do." And in this case you weren't referring to either of the plays we've talked about. You were referring to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, and in the interview you went on to say that, "It's clear that pretty much everything they do is because they love each other or related to that, not because they're inherently evil," which is really important and specific to that play.

But it made me think vis-a-vis this whole Merchant of Venice debacle, is contradiction something that audiences expect from Shakespeare or easily pick up on or are open to? Because if you look at, say, Othello, one of the hardest things to understand about Iago for instance is why he seems so purely evil. And often people go in to watch a Shakespeare play not thinking about character so much in a deep way.

KHAN: Big question. Let me begin by saying that I think one of the things that audiences enjoy with Shakespeare is having it solved. So you come away kind of going, “I have a concrete sense of what's gone on.” I've always punished myself for not having the appropriate education or experience. And so the audience always blame themselves I think in that instance, and then when they see a production that is very clear I think they celebrate it and also celebrate themselves.

Now I think that's not a bad thing. However, that experience is a reductive experience of the plays. I think the plays—I mean Emma Smith who recently wrote this wonderful book called This is Shakespeare talks about the gap-i-ness in Shakespeare. There are lots of slippages of meaning. There are lots of inconsistencies. These holes, where we as an audience enter into it. Where it suddenly doesn't become a play about Othello or Desdemona or Othello and Iago, it becomes a play about us. Macbeth or Lady Macbeth, it becomes a play about marriage, our marriages, our potential for violence, our potential vulnerabilities to influence. I'm always an advocate of messy Shakespeare because I think it's more truthful to the plays.

BOGAEV: What do you mean by messy Shakespeare?

KHAN: By messy Shakespeare I mean human Shakespeare, and by human Shakespeare I mean I don't think we're consistent creatures.

[CLIP from a rehearsal of Othello at the Royal Shakespeare Company, 2015. Ayesha Dharker is Emilia and Joanna Vanderham is Desdemona.]

EMILIA/DHARKER: The first time she talks about her own past—

IQBAL KHAN: I think that’s the trick with the scene, isn’t it? Is that, what you’re both trying to do is play light and life rather than that horrible impending sensation of an end.

EMILIA: I would you had never seen him.

DESDEMONA: So would not I.

KHAN: Challenge her with the, “how dare you.” “So would not I,” and, “how dare you say you.” Let’s take that challenge.

EMILIA: Dismiss me?

It was his bidding.
Therefore, good Emilia,
Give me my nightly wearing, and bid me adieu.
We must not now displease him.

EMILIA: I would you had never seen him.

So would not I. My love doth so approve him
That even his stubbornness, his cheeks, his frowns—
Prithee, unpin me—have grace and favor in them.

EMILIA: I have laid those sheets you bade mon the bed.

All’s one. Good faith, how foolish are our minds!
If I should die before thee, prithee, shroud me
In one of those same sheets.

EMILIA: Come, come, you talk!

My mother had a maid called Barbary.
She was in love.

KHAN: I think we contradict ourselves from moment to moment. I think we are a series of provisional moments. Is Cleopatra consistent?

[CLIP from Antony and Cleopatra at the Royal Shakespeare Company, 2017. Josette Simon is Cleopatra and Amber James is Charmain.]

See where he is, who’s with him, what he does.
I did not send you. If you find him sad,
Say I am dancing; if in mirth, report
That I am sudden sick. Quick, and return.

Madam, methinks, if you did love him dearly,
You do not hold the method to enforce
The like from him.


KHAN: How do you do Cleopatra's infinite variety?

BOGAEV: Right. Or Lear.

KHAN: Exactly. And what Shakespeare does is he selects fragments that suggest the complexity of a mind or the complexity of human experience. These collection of fragments aren't necessarily consistent. They don't tell the same story. What they do is they enrich the picture, and I think they represent a truer picture of what I see as the experience of living, of being human.

BOGAEV: Oh, this is interesting, and this links into something I wanted to ask you. Another provocative thing you said in another interview which is that you don't really believe in characters in Shakespeare. And I wasn't even sure really what you meant by that. But is this what you were talking about?

KHAN: Yeah, I think it is this sort of thing. I mean it's where people are creating consistent definable psychologies, particularly in the 21st-century sense. I think you can use all that stuff, but I think Shakespeare's doing something...

BOGAEV: Use it for your actors, you mean, to help them?

KHAN: Use it for your actors, exactly. But I think Shakespeare's never just presenting a character. He's never just presenting a psychology. He's also doing something a bit more metaphysical. For instance I've seen very few productions of Hamlet that I've come away satisfied with. Because I think what often happens with something like Hamlet is somebody has a theory that they dramatize. And what often happens when you make Hamlet too human, too recognizably a psychological portrait, is you remove something of the numinous from him and from the experience of him in the play.

The challenge I set myself when I present these plays is to find a way to release that experience of the play and the characters into the audience. Now I know, as you say, I think actors need to feel like they're doing something real and concrete in the moment, but how we collect these real moments together tells a different story.

BOGAEV: That is such a knife edge that you walk between wanting your audience to walk away saying, "Oh, now I get it. Now I know what that language, that beautiful language actually means and also what happens in the play." But also that they come away with the subtlety and the contradictions of that idea you're talking about of the prismatic aspect of the characters. That seems... Good, well done for aiming for that.

KHAN: But you see, what I'm talking about here is saying you can present the plays and present a series of characters that we all recognize and tell a really exciting story about these collections of characters. And the audiences walk away kind of going, "I recognize those characters. I've seen those. I've met those people. And it's a surprising and lovely, delightful story." And that's great. But I think what you surrender when you do it like that is the poetic potential of that experience.

A very simple element of this is the music of language. I think we use it all the time in real life and we don't think about it, but when I say it and I sing it I'm sort of communicating to you what it is... I mean, the paralinguistic is stuff that we use all the time in our communicative arsenal. We diminish our audiences if we don't allow ourselves to use the full arsenal of the paralinguistic possibilities of language and behavior. It's that kind of imaginative engagement that I want to release in my versions of the play and my work with the actors. I think it's completely comprehensible for an audience. We see it all in life. We engage with that degree of complexity all the time.

BOGAEV: Switching gears now, I must ask you despite having put on a production of Macbeth with your brothers when you eight, you did not start out in theater. I understand you got a degree in math at university and then you back to get a degree in, I think it was, physics, right? And that was all before even really dipping a toe in theater. So what made you change course?

KHAN: Well I didn't get the degree in maths and I didn't get the degree in physics. I started a maths degree at Cambridge. I degraded, as they call it, for a full year, and then I was clinically depressed and so I had to degrade again. And I could have then gone back to university and done English 'cause I had English A-level. But I was also in love with the sciences and with the beauty of mathematics. I thought, “Well, what would be the most practical thing to do would be go back to university and do physics.” In the meantime, because of my clinical depression, I had seen a voice therapist, and one of the things she said to me was, "When you go back to university, will you please do some drama and music?"

But it was only when I went back to university after this voice therapist that suggested I go back and auditioned for Twelfth Night at Imperial College. I spent a lot of time in a rehearsal room listening and observing other people because I only had a tiny scene at the end, that I had this sort of this Damascene moment where I suddenly felt like the kind of conversations I wanted to have, the room I wanted to be in was this kind of room. And there was a freedom and a complexity to the conversations of vulnerability and a generosity in the conversations that were happening that was thrilling to me. And then I decided to run away to the circus.

BOGAEV: Oh, that's quite a story.

KHAN: I suppose what's interesting is that I encountered quite a lot of struggle and a sense of failure throughout that period. And when I was at Cambridge, what was very interesting was that I came from a very poor background and I was suddenly catapulted into this powerhouse with people who spoke with an enormous volume but didn't say much. At the time I was completely overwhelmed by that and intimidated by it, and I didn't take up the space that I could have taken up and I withdrew into myself. It was only much later, and maybe through theater and through the conversations that I was having, that I managed to, kind of, value my instincts, my voice, and taking up the space that I could take up in the world.

BOGAEV: We started this conversation talking about how to make a play seem fresh and resonant. I know that you have gone to pains to make a distinction in the past between Shakespeare resonating for your audience as opposed to... your role [being] to make the plays relevant. My last question is, what's the difference between the plays resonating and the plays being relevant? What does that mean to you?

KHAN: I suppose it's the difference between coming out of something and feeling like you've experienced something thrilling outside of your experience, and that's the resonating thing. But the urgent thing is when your paradigms, your systems of belief, have been shifted, have been dislocated by the experience. When you've come out sort of feeling unsettled. So, you've gone into the piece thinking certain things about certain things and then come out kind of going, "Well maybe I'm not so certain." And, you know, that sense of dislocation can be thrilling, it can also be unsettling, and it's—

BOGAEV: Is that something that comes from the Shakespeare? Because you're reminding me of that Stephen Greenblatt quote, that, "Shakespeare was the master of the oblique angle."

KHAN: Yes, yes, yes. He sends you off-kilter. I think it goes back to what you were talking about earlier on which is to do with the presentation of contradiction as a human experience. I think so often what we do in the world is we try and remove contradictions from our experience. We see contradictions as making us vulnerable to challenge. We sort of isolate ourselves with simple truths that bind us in tribes. It feels to me that if, with the Shakespeare, we can thrill and tease an audience into embracing unknowing, that is one of the most important gifts that we can give to future audiences. That it's okay not to know, because then you're always engaged in discovering the new. Shakespeare's plays, I think, celebrate that independence of voices, of types, that create a much richer whole, as it were.

BOGAEV: Well, so inspiring. I'm going to go out of this “embracing unknowing.”

KHAN: Oh, thank you, Barbara.

BOGAEV: But I am so glad to have gotten to know you a little bit today.

KHAN: Thank you. Thank you, Barbara.

BOGAEV: Thank you.


WITMORE: Iqbal Khan has directed at Shakespeare’s Globe, in the West End, and the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he staged Much Ado About Nothing, Antony and Cleopatra, Tartuffe, and Othello. He was interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

Our podcast, Tell the Tale Anew, was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. We had technical helped from Evan Marquart at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Dom Boucher at The Sound Company in London.

If you’re enjoying Shakespeare Unlimited, and if you’re looking for another way to let other people know about it, please review us on Apple Podcasts. That really is the best way to help. Thank you.

Shakespeare Unlimited comes to you from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is dedicated to advancing knowledge and the arts. You can find more about the Folger at our website, And, if you find yourself in Washington, DC, please come and visit us on Capitol Hill. Take in a performance in our Elizabethan theater and come face to face with a First Folio—the first printed edition of Shakespeare's plays. We hope to see you here.

Thanks for listening. For the Folger Shakespeare Library, I’m Folger Director Michael Witmore.