Watch Shakespeare Uncovered

Shakespeare Uncovered is a television series that explores the works of William Shakespeare in the context of Shakespeare's history and modern performances. Notable actors, directors, and scholars are interviewed over the course of six episodes about their work with Shakespeare's plays. Shakespeare Uncovered offers insights into how the plays were originally written and performed by Shakespeare and his company, and why they are still performed today.

Each episode of Shakespeare Uncovered is narrated by a notable modern practitioner of Shakespeare's works, including David Tennant, Ethan Hawke, and Trevor Nunn. Each episode examines a different play, or genre of plays, including Macbeth, Ricard II, Henry IV (parts 1 and 2), Henry V, Hamlet, and The Tempest. Episodes include sample scenes and backstage looks at the work of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare's Globe (London), and the American Shakespeare Center.

In addition to modern productions of the plays, Shakespeare Uncovered examines the historical and literary conditions in which Shakespeare wrote. The series generally argues that William Shakespeare helped establish the modern theatre four centuries ago by adapting other literary works, writing prequels to well known stories, rebooting other writers' characters, and incorporating contemporary politics into his work. Parts of Shakespeare's biography, including his family and professional lives, are also considered in relation to his craft in writing plays.

Notable Shakespeare scholars Stephen Greenblatt, Gail Kern Paster, and Stanley Wells, Abigail Rokison, and Rene Weis served as the project advisory board for Shakespeare Uncovered. Some of the more noteworthy performers interviewed include Judy Dench, Patrick Stewart, Kate Fleetwood, and Ian McKellan. Film, television, and radio adaptations of Shakespeare's plays are also examined, from the early twentieth century through the present.

Shakespeare Uncovered was produced by Blakeway Productions, 116 Films, and THIRTEEN in association with Shakespeare's Globe, and first aired on June 19th, 2012. Each episode of Shakespeare Uncovered runs for sixty minutes.

PBS
3 Seasons, 18 Episodes
January 25, 2013
History
8.5/10
Cast: Jade Anouka, Harriet Walter, Simon Russell Beale, Vanessa Redgrave
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Shakespeare Uncovered Full Episode Guide

  • Antony Sher's 1977 interpretation of the infamous villain Richard III defined the role for a generation. This is the story of how Shakespeare created both a loathsome and brilliant manipulator and a real man who speaks to every age.

  • Simon Russell Beale presents The Winter's Tale -- an intense psychological drama, driven by passion and obsession. In this play, Shakespeare pushes theatrical technique to its limits, and offers us an astonishing ending full of hope.

  • Julius Caesar upholds Liberty against Tyranny. But what is tyranny? Presenter Brian Cox examines how this play challenges all political systems and all definitions of tyranny -- challenging us to wonder how well we even know ourselves.

  • Shakespeare shows us the brutal implications of high moral principles on both sides in this dark and complex comedy. Romola Garai examines this truly relevant tale of harassment and the abuse of male power.

  • F. Murray Abraham untangles the controversies surrounding "The Merchant of Venice," addressing the ubiquitous anti-Semitism that characterized Europe in Shakespeare's time.

  • Joseph Fiennes discusses William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet with Orlando Bloom, Condola Rashad and Stephen Sodenheim.

  • Kim Cattrall examines the play Antony & Cleopatra.

  • Morgan Freeman discusses William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew with Tracey Ullman, Sinead Cusack and Julia Stiles.

  • King Lear is universally acknowledged as one of Shakespeare's greatest tragic roles. Plummer has played the role under the direction of Sir Jonathan Miller (who, we discover, has directed it six times).

  • Bonneville started his career at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, understudying Ralph Fiennes as Lysander, one of the four lovers in A Midsummer Night's Dream. He and Fiennes meet up again to try to untangle the extraordinary plot of one of Shakespeare's most enduringly popular plays, a great comedy of love and enchantment.

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Shakespeare Uncovered is available to watch and stream on PBS. You can also buy, rent Shakespeare Uncovered on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes online.