(Rochester, New York) – Shakespeare Uncovered combines history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis, and the personal passion of its celebrated hosts – Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Irons, Derek Jacobi, Trevor Nunn, Joely Richardson, and David Tennant – to tell the story behind the stories of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. The six-part series premieres Sunday, January 27 at 2 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT 21.1/cable 1011 and 11).
Produced by Richard Denton for Blakeway Productions & THIRTEEN for WNET in association with the BBC and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, each episode explores and reveals the extraordinary world and works of William Shakespeare and their still potent impact today. The films combine interviews with actors, directors, and scholars, along with visits to key locations, clips from some of the most celebrated film and television adaptations, and illustrative excerpts from the plays especially staged for the series at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.
Behind every Shakespeare play there is a story: for instance, how he and his company dismantled their theatre and rowed it across the river Thames when the landlord cancelled their lease – and then staged Henry V for the first time. Shakespeare was in show business – drawing on historical sources, stealing ideas, bringing back popular characters, and picking up dramatic ideas from the news of the day.
Each program’s host has had deep personal experience of Shakespeare’s work; each relates not only the story of the plays themselves, but also the story of how they came to be written, how they have been performed, and how they have survived over 400 years.
Episodes and air dates are as follows:
Macbeth with Ethan Hawke airs Sunday, January 27 at 2 p.m. Ethan Hawke invites viewers to join him in his quest to play Shakespeare’s murderous Thane of Cawdor by uncovering the true story that served as inspiration, immersing himself in some of the most memorable and innovative productions and discovering Shakespeare’s extraordinary insights into the criminal mind.
The Comedies with Joely Richardson airs Sunday, January 27 at 3 p.m. Joely Richardson investigates (with her mother Vanessa Redgrave) the legacy of these two brilliant cross-dressing comedies and the great comic and romantic heroines created by Shakespeare in two perennially popular plays.Enjoy Joely Richardson’s investigation of Shakespeare’s heroines in two cross-dressing comedies.
Richard II with Derek Jacobi airs Sunday, February 10 at 2 p.m. Derek Jacobi returns to a role he played 30 years ago, coaches actors at the Globe in aspects of the play, reveals why it could have cost Shakespeare his life — and shares some of the extraordinary modern political parallels within the play that still resonate as dictators are deposed. Also featured are notable excerpts from the upcoming GREAT PERFORMANCES film adaptation starring Ben Whishaw and Patrick Stewart.
Henry IV and Henry V with Jeremy Irons airs Sunday, February 10 at 3 p.m. Jeremy Irons(who stars as Henry IV in the upcoming new GREAT PERFORMANCES film adaptation) uncovers the enduring appeal of Shakespeare’s “history plays,” from the facts of English history to the father-son drama that Shakespeare created. He discloses what Shakespeare’s sources were — and how he distorted them. He invites the viewer behind the scenes at the filming of some of the most important sequences in the new GREAT PERFORMANCES adaptations of both plays, starring Irons, with Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal.
Hamlet with David Tennant airs Sunday, February 17 at 2 p.m. In Hamlet, David Tennant, whose own RSC performance was a huge hit, meets other actors who have played the role - from the legendary David Warner in the 1960s to the recent Jude Law. He also tries, alongside Simon Russell Beale and Ben Whishaw, to unravel the meaning of the play and the reason why it is considered by many to be the greatest play Shakespeare ever wrote.
The Tempest with Trevor Nunn airs Sunday, February 17 at 3 p.m. Shakespeare Uncovered: director Trevor Nunn looks at the magical and mysterious world created in Shakespeare's last complete play, The Tempest.
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