Jumping Off Points: Our Listening Suggestions
Curious about how our Shakespeare Unlimited podcast tackles the vast and often varied topic of Shakespeare in modern life, in the past, and on and off the stage? To get started, we're sharing some episodes on topics ranging from food and drink to interviews with legendary actors and directors to Shakespearean adaptations on stage, including musicals, and around the world.
Food, Drink, and Merriment | The Plays On Stage | The Bard Around the World | Shakespeare in Films and TV | On Stage But Not Quite Shakespeare | Race, Gender, and Identity | All About Shakespeare | Everyday Life in Shakespeare's World | The Digital Domain and Techno-Shakespeare | Books, Libraries, and Reading
Shakespeare's Kitchen. In an episode hosted in our guest's own kitchen, we talk with Francine Segan, a noted food historian and the James Beard-nominated author of six books, about what people in Shakespeare’s time ate, how they prepared it, and how they served it.
The Food of Shakespeare's World. Our conversation with scholar Wendy Wall, author of Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen, explores kitchens, food preparation, and the meaning of food in Shakespeare's time, all of which are often reflected directly or indirectly in his plays.
Shakespeare Not Stirred. We talk with two professors who took their interest in Shakespeare in an unexpected direction with Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas, a collection of cocktail recipes inspired by Shakespeare (from Claudius's Sex in the Breach to Cleopatra's Flings in a Blanket), all illustrated by images from the Folger collection.
Shakespeare and The Tabard Inn. This surprising story involves a record of long-gone graffiti in a London inn, reported in a centuries-old manuscript, that mentions Shakespeare and his colleagues. Our interview with University of Wisconsin history professor Martha Carlin tells us just what it was like to come across it, and what it may mean.
Uncovering Shakespeare's House. This conversation discusses archaeological research into the remains of New Place, Shakespeare's final house in his hometown of Stratford, which has disclosed a wealth of information about the kitchen and remnants of food and food preparation in Shakespeare's home.
Glenda Jackson. We talk with Glenda Jackson, the acclaimed actress who served as a member of Parliament for 23 years, then returned to the stage to play parts that have included King Lear.
Antony Sher. Our interview with the well-known actor and author Antony Sher includes three of his Shakespearean roles, each of which he has discussed in a separate book: Richard III, Falstaff, and King Lear.
Derek Jacobi: Acting Shakespeare. The first part of an intriguing two-part interview with renowned actor Derek Jacobi includes many of his roles in Shakespeare's plays.
Derek Jacobi: Playing Hamlet. The second part of our interview with Derek Jacobi focuses on his famed portrayals of Hamlet.
Harriet Walter. We talk with Harriet Walter about the Shakespearean characters she has played, including Cleopatra and, more recently, the leading parts in director Phyllida Lloyd's all-female trilogy.
Steven Berkoff: Shakespeare's Heroes and Villains. Known for a variety of stage and movie roles, actor Steven Berkoff discusses his film Shakespeare's Heroes and Villains, inspired by his one-man show, Shakespeare's Villains.
Peter Brook. We speak with Peter Brook about his life and his career as a leading director, including his first Stratford production (with what later became the Royal Shakespeare Company) in 1946, his milestone 1970 A Midsummer Night's Dream, and many other productions.
Michael Kahn. Renowned artistic director Michael Kahn talks with us about Shakespeare and a variety of past and recent productions, including Henry V during the Vietnam War and Timon of Athens in the 1990s.
Understanding Peter Sellars. Scholar Ayanna Thompson, who has written about director Peter Sellars's work, is interviewed together with Sellars; they discuss several of his Shakespearean productions, including his 2009 staging of Othello.
Iqbal Khan. Iqbal Khan, who has directed at Shakespeare's Globe, in the West End, and at the Royal Shakespeare Company, discusses the importance and complexity of staging Shakespeare's plays.
Kenny Leon on Much Ado About Nothing. Director Kenny Leon discusses his recent Shakespeare in the Park production of Much Ado About Nothing (also filmed for PBS's Great Performances), set in an African-American suburb of Atlanta.
Barry Edelstein: Thinking Shakespeare. Barry Edelstein, the Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director at The Old Globe in San Diego, takes us through an abbreviated excerpt of his well-known master class, Thinking Shakespeare Live!
Artistic Directors Talk Shakespeare. This fascinating episode weaves together insights from multiple artistic directors around the country on their own Shakespeare productions.
Antioch Shakespeare Festival: John Lithgow, Robin Lithgow, and Tony Dallas. The actor John Lithgow, his sister and former public school arts-program coordinator Robin Lithgow, and director Tony Dallas discuss the Antioch Shakespeare Festival at Antioch College, a festival that their fathers, Arthur Lithgow and Meredith Dallas, co-created; the festival performed every play in the Shakespeare canon during three summers in the 1950s.
Kenneth Turan: Joe Papp and Shakespeare in the Park. Kenneth Turan talks with us about producer extraordinaire Joe Papp and the story of Shakespeare in the Park in New York.
Auditioning for Shakespeare. In this episode, we explore how to audition for Shakespeare's parts with Laura Wayth, an assistant professor of theater at San Francisco State University and author of a how-to book on the subject.
Tang Xianzu and Shakespeare in China. Our look at Shakespeare in modern-day China includes the new description of 17th-century playwright Tang Xianzu as a "Shakespeare of the East."
Shakespeare in Swahililand. We speak about Shakespeare in East Africa with Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o, the renowned Kenyan playwright, novelist, dissident, and social activist, and Edward Wilson-Lee, author of Shakespeare in Swahililand, who teaches Shakespeare at Cambridge University.
Worlds Elsewhere. An interview with author and traveler Andrew Dickson discusses his journey to explore Shakespeare in several countries, both now and in the past.
Shakespeare in Africa. An episode about Shakespeare in different regions of Africa includes the perspectives of Nigerian playwright Femi Osofisan, Kenyan playwright and novelist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Tcho Caulker, a Sierra Leonean-American professor of English at Quinnipiac University, and Jane Plastow, professor of African theater at the University of Leeds and co-editor of African Theatre 12: Shakespeare in and out of Africa.
Shakespeare and World Cinema. We talk about the vast variety of Shakespeare films from around the world with Mark Thornton Burnett, a professor of English at Queen’s University Belfast and the author of Shakespeare and World Cinema.
Shakespeare in India. A conversation about the role of Shakespeare in India before and after independence includes Jyotsna Singh, professor of English at Michigan State University, and Modhumita Roy, associate professor of English at Tufts University.
Shakespeare in the Caribbean. A discussion about Shakespeare in the Caribbean, on stage, in education, and in longstanding cultural traditions, includes Giselle Rampaul, a lecturer at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad, and Barrymore A. Bogues, director of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University.
Shakespeare in Hong Kong. This episode explores Shakespeare in the past and present, on screen and on stage, in Hong Kong, with Alexa Huang, professor of English at George Washington University, and Adele Lee, a senior lecturer in English Literature at the University of Greenwich in England.
The Robben Island Shakespeare. In this interview, we talk with Shakespeare scholar David Schalkwyk about the now-famed story of a copy of Shakespeare's Works—disguised as a Hindu religious text—that Nelson Mandela and his fellow prisoners annotated with their favorite quotations from the plays while imprisoned in South Africa.
Casey Wilder Mott and Fran Kranz on Their LA Midsummer. Director Casey Wilder Mott and co-producer and actor Fran Kranz discuss their version of A Midsummer Night's Dream set in the modern film industry.
Lisa Klein on Ophelia. Lisa Klein, whose YA novel Ophelia was made into a 2019 movie with Daisy Ridley in the title role, talks about her reinvention of Shakespeare's character Ophelia.
Olivia Hussey: The Girl on the Balcony. Fifty years after Francisco Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet (1968) debuted, actress Olivia Hussey recalls getting the part of Juliet and filming the role that made her famous.
Shakespeare and World Cinema. We talk about the vast variety of Shakespeare films from around the world with Mark Thornton Burnett, a professor of English at Queen’s University Belfast and the author of Shakespeare and World Cinema.
Shakespeare on Film. A conversation with Sam Crowl, a professor of English at Ohio University and author of several books on Shakespeare in the movies, offers an intriguing tour of Shakespeare films, from brief silent movies to today's releases.
Orson Welles and Shakespeare. A talk with scholar and author Michael Anderegg on Orson Welles and Shakespeare includes Welles's classic Shakespeare films.
Shakespeare in California. A conversation about Shakespeare in the American West includes the Warner Bros. Hollywood classic A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935).
Creating TNT's Will. Executive producer/writer Craig Pearce and executive producer/director Shekhar Kapur tell us about inventing and imagining the fantastical TNT series Will, which is set in what are often called Shakespeare's "lost years," before he made a name for himself in the theater.
How 'King Lear' Inspired 'Empire'. We talk with Ilene Chaiken, showrunner and executive producer for the Fox TV series Empire, about how King Lear—and other Shakespeare plays—inspired the plots and characters of the show, in which a hip-hop music executive sets his three children against each other.
Shakespeare Uncovered. A conversation with TV producers Richard Denton and Nicola Stockley takes a behind-the scenes look at their PBS TV series Shakespeare Uncovered, which explored Shakespeare's leading plays in episodes hosted by film and theater stars like Morgan Freeman, Kim Cattrall, Ethan Hawke, and Helen Hunt.
Shakespeare and Opera. We explore operas based on Shakespeare plays—including works by Verdi, Rossini, and Benjamin Britten—with Colleen Fay, a former Library of Congress music librarian and founding head of the Performing Arts Library at The Kennedy Center.
The Gender Politics of Kiss Me, Kate. An in-depth interview on how Kiss Me, Kate, based on The Taming of the Shrew, was reimagined for a recent production, with Will Chase, who plays Fred Graham, the Petruchio figure, and Amanda Green, the Tony-nominated lyricist and composer who wrote additional material.
Shakespeare and War. Actor and veteran Stephan Wolfert, creator of the one-man show Cry Havoc!, talks about the role of war, veterans experiences, and post-tramautic stress disorder in Shakespeare as well as his outreach to veterans through theater.
Leonard Bernstein and West Side Story. This episode explores the story of the creation of West Side Story in honor of its recent 50th anniversary.
Adapting Shakespeare. We talk with three modern playwrights creating plays adapted or inspired by Shakespeare, including Craig Wright (Melissa Arctic), Alexandra Petri (Tell My Story, which became to tell my story: a Hamlet fanfic), and Chris Stezin (Mac, Beth).
Shakespeare in Immigrant New York. This conversation with Elisabeth Kinsley, author of Here in this Island We Arrived: Shakespeare and Belonging in Immigrant New York, explores 19th-century Shakespearean productions and adaptations, included the 1892 Yiddish play The Jewish King Lear, also known as The Yiddish King Lear.
The Book of Will. Playwright Laura Gunderson's play The Book of Will, which had an early reading at the Folger, tells how Shakespeare's friends and colleagues created the 1623 First Folio, seven years after his death.
Something Rotten. In a tribute to both Shakespeare and the Broadway musical, Something Rotten tells the story of an imagined playwright of Shakespeare's day who tries to compete with him by producing the first Broadway musical... in Elizabethan times. We explore just how Something Rotten's creators, who are brothers, came up with the idea and got it to Broadway.
Q Brothers – Othello: The Remix. An interview with the Q Brothers discusses their series of hip-hop Shakespeare productions, including Othello: The Remix.
American Moor. Keith Hamilton Cobb's one-man show American Moor, the script for which is included in the Folger Shakespeare Library collection, explores the role of Othello and the frustration of taking direction on playing a black role from an unseen white director.
Reduced Shakespeare Company. An interview with the Reduced Shakespeare Company's current directors and longest-serving performers, Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin, celebrates the arrival of William Shakespeare's Long-Lost First Play (Abridged).
Shakespeare in Translation. This episode considers translations of Shakespeare's plays—and the changes in meaning and rhythm between languages that translators explore.
Note: To learn even more about translations and adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, see The Bard Around the World.
Othello and Blackface. A conversation with scholars Ayanna Thompson and Ian Smith includes Smith's influential analysis of the vital handkerchief in Othello and the role of dyed cloth to simulate blackness in Elizabethan times.
Shakespeare in Black and White. We talk with Ayanna Thompson and Marvin MacAllister about Shakespeare and African Americans at the height of the Jim Crow era, from a few years after the Civil War to the 1950s—a time that includes Orson Welles's all-black Macbeth and Paul Robeson playing Othello on Broadway as well as some powerful but less familiar local stories.
African Americans and Shakespeare. An expansive look at African Americans and Shakespeare includes the story of African American star Ira Aldridge, who performed in Europe and England during a decades-long career that was largely before the Civil War, as well as more recent stories about pioneering casting choices in Shakespeare in the Park productions.
Paterson Joseph: Julius Caesar and Me. We talk with acclaimed British actor Paterson Joseph about his memoir Julius Caesar and Me, stemming from an all-black Royal Shakespeare Company production of Julius Caesar, set in Africa, in which he played the title role.
Akala and Hip-Hop Shakespeare. Starting with a powerful game, "Is it Shakespeare or is it hip-hop?" this interview with the British poet, rapper, and educator Kingslee James Daley, who goes by the stage name Akala, tackles poetry and prejudice, as he uses the tools of hip-hop to explore Shakespeare's text.
Duke Ellington, Shakespeare, and Such Sweet Thunder. In this interview with Douglas Lanier, we learn how Duke Ellington's Such Sweet Thunder suite of 12 Shakespeare-inspired tunes marked a new chapter in his career and reflected shifting cultural perceptions of jazz.
Phyllida Lloyd and All-Female Shakespeare. Our interview with director Phyllida Lloyd discusses her influential trilogy of all-female Shakespeare productions at the Donmar Warehouse in London, all set in a women's prison.
Shakespeare and Girlhood. Scholar and author Deanne Williams, who wrote Shakespeare and the Performance of Girlhood, talks about girls in Shakespeare's plays, from Lavinia in Titus Andronicus, to Ophelia in Hamlet, to Viola in Twelfth Night.
Actresses on Shakespeare. We talk with several actresses about their insights and experiences in playing Shakespeare's female characters, from starring roles to supporting parts as queens, wives, maids, nurses, and more.
Women Performers in Shakespeare's Time. We all know that female parts in Shakespeare's plays were performed by men and boys in his time—but this conversation with Clare McManus, author of Women on the Renaissance Stage, points out that there were plenty of women performers in other settings, from royal women and aristocrats in courtly masques to street performers and tightrope walkers.
When Romeo Was a Woman. We speak with author and scholar Lisa Merrell about the 19th-century American theatrical star Charlotte Cushman, who was as well known for playing male Shakespearean roles like Romeo and Cardinal Wolsey as female ones. She also spent her life in a series of romantic relationships with other women, a fact that Merrell argues helped to eclipse her reputation after her death.
Still Dreaming: Shakespeare with Seniors. A documentary explores the life of older Americans in this production of A Midsummer Night's Dream by residents from the Lillian Booth Actors Home, an assisted living facility outside New York City that includes retired Broadway professionals.
Shakespeare in Sign Language. Walking through a Gallaudet University exhibition First Folio: Eyes on Shakespeare, professor and curator Jilly Bradbury discusses how to perform Shakespeare without spoken words and the role of American Sign Language (ASL).
James Shapiro on Shakespeare in a Divided America. Author James Shapiro talks with us about his book Shakespeare in a Divided America. Inspired by an essay about Shakespeare by the Gilded Age reformer Jane Addams, it looks at times when our nation seemed at its most fragile and disconnected, often involving issues of race and gender, and tells those stories through their connections to Shakespeare.
Note: Shakespeare Unlimited includes many other podcast episodes related to these core ideas, both in historical times and in the present. You can also look up Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Merchant of Venice in our "plays" list for still more episodes.
Myths About Shakespeare. In a conversation with Oxford professor Emma Smith and co-author Laurie Maguire about their book 30 Great Myths About Shakespeare, we discuss Shakespearean myths and the larger questions they raise, from how popular his writing was to whether "the Scottish Play" brings bad luck.
Recounting Shakespeare's Life. We've wondered about Shakespeare's life for centuries, but during the same time, the nature of biography has evolved, too. Brian Cummings, who delivered the Folger's 2014 Shakespeare's Birthday Lecture on "Shakespeare, Biography, and Anti-Biography," discusses how Shakespeare's personal story has been recounted over the years—and whether any writer's biography tells us much about their work.
Portraits of Shakespeare. What did Shakespeare look like? Oxford professor Katherine Duncan-Jones talks with us about some portraits that may give us an answer, as well as many others that are almost certainly not the Bard.
Imagining Shakespeare's Wife. Shakespeare's image and fame have followed a complex path of "posthumous celebrity" since he passed away in 1616, but this conversation with author Katherine West Scheil explores a less well-known story, that of his wife, Anne Hathaway—from what little is known from the historical record to changing views of her character over the centuries and her frequent role in fiction.
Andrew McConnell Stott on the Shakespeare Jubilee. Actor David Garrick’s 1769 Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford-on-Avon was a fiasco that was almost completely rained out, yet it made Shakespeare a national hero and put his hometown on the map. Andrew McConnell Stott, who's written a book on the Shakespeare Jubilee, tells us more of the story.
Shakespeare's Sonnets. In a conversation with Jane Kingsley-Smith, author of The Afterlife of Shakespeare's Sonnets, we learn how Shakespeare's sonnets have been interpreted over time and used or misused as clues to Shakespeare's own story.
Uncovering Shakespeare's House. Little is left of New Place, Shakespeare's final house in Stratford, but archaeological research has offered fascinating information about everyday life there. Learn more from our conversation with Kevin Colls, archaeological project manager at the Centre of Archaeology at Staffordshire University, and Nic Fulcher of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the assistant project manager at New Place.
Stephen Alford: London's Triumph. In this episode, scholar and author Stephen Alford describes the astonishing transformation of London from 1500, when it was a small, backwater city at the edge of Europe, to a booming, powerful, financial metropolis in about 1600—a change that made London and the stage a wonderful home for Shakespeare when he arrived in the late 1500s.
How to Behave Badly in Elizabethan England. How did the English flirt, fight, and insult each other in Shakespeare's day? And what else was just too embarrassing to mention? To find out more, we talk with Ruth Goodman, author of the magnificently titled How to Behave Badly in Elizabethan England: A Guide for Knaves, Fools, Harlots, Cuckolds, Drunkards, Liars, Thieves, and Braggarts.
Elizabeth Norton: The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women. Shakespeare was born and began his career during the reign of the very last Tudor monarch, Elizabeth I. But what was life like for the rest of the women in Tudor England? We spoke with Elizabeth Norton about a variety of Tudor women—including the queen—and their often hidden lives.
Shakespeare's France and Italy. From The Merchant of Venice to French battlefields, so many of Shakespeare's plays are set in Italy or France. In this episode, we talk with two scholars to find out what Shakespeare's audiences really knew about either country, and why they were such popular settings for his plays.
Elizabethan Street Fighting. A conversation with Vanessa McMahon, author of Murder in Shakespeare's England, and Casey Kaleba, an expert in Elizabethan street crime and one of the Washington, DC, area's most sought-after fight coaches for stage plays, discusses the similarities and differences between real-life street violence in Shakespeare's day and the fencing and combat in his plays.
Elizabethan Medicine. A conversation with former Folger Director Gail Kern Paster and scholar Barbara Traister puts into context many of the medical ideas in Shakespeare's plays, and how Shakespeare and his contemporaries might have sought medical advice.
Note: Look for some additional tasty episodes about everyday life in Shakespeare's time in Food, Drink, and Merriment.
Hamlet 360: Virtual Reality Shakespeare. In a bit of an audio tour de force, this episode offer a hands-on description of Hamlet 360: Thy Father's Spirit, a virtual reality adaptation of Shakespeare's play that showcases the unique advantages of this new format for the plays.
The Royal Shakespeare Company's Digital Tempest. In a Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Tempest, live digital effects using performance capture were created by The Imaginarium, a company co-founded by Andy Serkis, who portrayed Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies. We talk with Gregory Doran, the RSC's artistic director, and Ben Lumsden, Imaginarium’s head of studio, about how they meshed 21st-century wizardry with the 17th-century kind.
Pronouncing English as Shakespeare Did. Linguist David Crystal and his son, actor Ben Crystal, discuss how the English language was probably pronounced in Shakespeare's time, including a wealth of examples from As You Like It and the sonnets. As David Crystal explains, earlier attempts at scholarship in this labor-intensive field were very limited; the ability of computers to search and compare aspects of Shakespeare's texts has transformed this research.
Shakespeare and Marlowe: Attributing 'Henry VI' Authorship. An interesting case of the growing role of digital humanities (DH), alongside other research, in Shakespeare studies is the New Oxford Shakespeare's decision to credit Henry VI, Parts 1, 2, and 3 to both Shakespeare and fellow playwright Christopher Marlowe. Learn more about the background behind that decision and the nature of collaboration on Elizabethan plays in this conversation with Folger director Michael Witmore and scholar Eric Rasmussen.
Milton's Copy of Shakespeare. In September 2019, two scholars at distant institutions—Claire M.L. Bourne at Penn State and Jason Scott-Warren at Cambridge University—made a wonderful discovery: a well-known First Folio at Penn State was very likely the poet John Milton's copy, marked up in his own writing. We talk with Bourne and Scott-Warren to learn more about their discovery—and how the increased use of images and Twitter exchanges among scholars made it possible.
How Shakespeare Changed My Life. We speak with actor/director Melinda Hall about the origins and value of her web-video series, How Shakespeare Saved My Life, in which Sir Ben Kingsley, Earle Hyman, Liev Schreiber, James Earl Jones, Stacy Keach, Estelle Parsons, and many others open up about their experiences with Shakespeare’s plays.
Pop Culture Shakespeare with Stefanie Jochman. A high-school English teacher and a 2014 alumna of the Folger’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute (which she returned to in 2016 as a Master Teacher), Stefanie Jochman speaks with us about how to use pop culture to connect with kids and young people—including some options she would only suggest for use outside the classroom. In addition to movies and The Simpsons, she discusses National Theatre Live (NT Live) long-distance productions, Pop Sonnets, which began online years ago as a Tumblr, and YouTube parodies and web series like Thug Life and Second City's Sassy Gay Friend.
Shakespeare and Science Fiction. In this episode, we talk with Sarah Annes Brown, co-director of the Center for Science Fiction and Fantasy at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, about the links between Shakespeare and works of science fiction, from Star Trek to Isaac Asimov's story "The Immortal Bard" to Emily St. John Mandel's novel Station Eleven, which follows a traveling theater troupe after civilization's collapse.
Shakespeare and YA Novels. Molly Booth and Ryan North discuss two Shakespeare-themed YA (young adult) books; in Booth's time-travel novel Saving Hamlet, a heroine slips back to the production of Hamlet in Shakespeare's time, while in North's "chooseable path" novel Romeo and Juliet, readers can select what happens next.
Simon Mayo: Mad Blood Stirring. Simon Mayo talks with us about his novel Mad Blood Stirring, based in part on the little-known fact that American sailors from the War of 1812 were imprisoned in Dartmoor Prison in England. Housed in racially segregated groups, a largely black cast of POWs staged plays that included Romeo and Juliet.
How Pericles Inspired Mark Haddon's Novel The Porpoise. Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, discusses his novel The Porpoise, a reinterpretation of Shakespeare's play Pericles.
Edward St. Aubyn on Dunbar. Well-known British novelist Edward St. Aubyn talks about his book about a media mogul inspired by King Lear, which is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series of novels.
Tracy Chevalier: New Boy. Chevalier discusses her novel New Boy, based loosely on Othello, in which a young African student enrolls in a largely white school outside Washington, DC, in the early 1970s, which is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series of novels.
Bernard Cornwell: Fools and Mortals. Best-selling historical novelist Bernard Cornwell talks about his book Fools and Mortals, featuring Shakespeare's younger brother Richard, which centers on the staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Julie Schumacher on The Shakespeare Requirement. We speak with author Julie Schumacher about The Shakespeare Requirement, a sequel to her comic academic novel Dear Committee Members, in which her characters proceed apace with a quest for a Statement of Vision and a battle over whether to require a Shakespeare course.
William Shakespeare's Star Wars. In this interview with Ian Doescher, we get a sense of the ideas behind his popular versions of the Star Wars movies, meticulously retold in Shakespearean prose. (We also talk with Doescher about his Shakespearan takes on Mean Girls and Back to the Future in another episode, If Shakespeare Wrote Mean Girls.)
Pop Sonnets. What are the rules for an Elizabethan sonnet, and how can such a sonnet capture a Taylor Swift or Chuck Berry song? We sit down with Erik Didriksen, author of Pop Sonnets, to find out the answers—and learn what made him think of these sonnets in the first place.
Kill Shakespeare Comics. Kill Shakespeare is a gripping comic book series in which Shakespeare’s most popular characters team up in rival, warring camps bent on seizing control of the kingdom that is the world of Shakespeare’s plays. We interview its creators, Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col, at Comic Con in New York.
Creating Shakespeare's First Folio. The First Folio of Shakespeare, published seven years after his death in 1623, included 36 of his plays, 18 of which had never been published before; without it, they might have been lost forever. But what led to the First Folio, and how was it created, edited, and printed? We talk with Oxford professor Emma Smith to find out.
How Shakespeare's First Folio Became a Star. From its original printing in 1623 to its rock-star status today, the First Folio has followed an extraordinary path to fame. Learn more about how it became a cultural icon from this conversation with former Folger Librarian Daniel De Simone and author and scholar Adam Hooks.
A New First Folio Discovery. When someone discovers a previously unidentified First Folio of Shakespeare, it makes the news, but we don't always learn all the details. To learn more about such fascinating stories, we speak with Eric Rasmussen, chair of the English Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, not long after he authenticated a newly discovered First Folio in Saint-Omer, France.
Inside the Folger Conservation Lab. In this episode, we take a tour of the Folger's Conservation Lab as we talk with Folger Head of Conservation Renate Mesmer about the role of conserving rare books and with a project conservator, Austin Plann-Curley, about his work preparing fragile promptbooks for digitization.
The Millionaire and the Bard. What led Henry Folger, with his wife Emily Jordan Folger, to collect the world's largest number of copies of the 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare, assemble the world's largest Shakespeare collection, and found the Folger Shakespeare Library? Economist Andrea Mays, author of The Millionaire and the Bard, discusses Henry Folger's fascination with Shakespeare and the First Folio and the legacy it has led to.
Books and Reading in Shakespeare's England. The first known purchase of any printed book by William Shakespeare was by an Elizabethan bureaucrat, Richard Stonley, who bought Shakespeare's long racy poem Venus and Adonis in June 1593. Learn more about him, and about the books that Shakespeare himself may have owned, in this conversation with Jason Scott-Warren, who wrote Shakespeare’s First Reader, and Stuart Kells, author of Shakespeare’s Library.
NOTE: Our podcast episodes also include numerous additional nonfiction books, which are often the basis for entire episodes—some are listed under other topics above.