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Home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare materials. Advancing knowledge and the arts. Discover it all at www.folger.edu. Shakespeare turns up in the most interesting places—not just literature and the stage, but science and social history as well. Our "Shakespeare Unlimited" podcast explores the fascinating and varied connections between Shakespeare, his works, and the world around us.

Folger Shakespeare Library: Shakespeare Unlimited Folger Shakespeare Library

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Home to the world's largest collection of Shakespeare materials. Advancing knowledge and the arts. Discover it all at www.folger.edu. Shakespeare turns up in the most interesting places—not just literature and the stage, but science and social history as well. Our "Shakespeare Unlimited" podcast explores the fascinating and varied connections between Shakespeare, his works, and the world around us.

    The Victorian Cult Of Shakespeare

    The Victorian Cult Of Shakespeare

    For most of the 1700s, Shakespeare was considered a very good playwright. But in the 1800s, and especially during the Victorian period, Shakespeare became a prophet. Ministers began drawing their lessons from his texts. Scholars wrote books about the scriptural resonances of his words—often while taking those words out of context. Shakespeare’s works, the Victorians believed, offered religious revelations.

    In his new book, "The Victorian Cult of Shakespeare: Bardology in the Nineteenth Century," University of Washington Associate Professor of English Charles LaPorte examines this moment in literary and religious history. We invited him to join us on the podcast to tell us how people in the 19th century thought about Shakespeare, how the moment helped give rise to the “authorship controversy,” and how sometimes, even today, we read Shakespeare like the Victorians. LaPorte is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

    "The Victorian Cult of Shakespeare: Bardology in the Nineteenth Century" was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. Dr. Charles LaPorte's previous book, "Victorian Poets and the Changing Bible," was named Best First Book in Victorian Studies by the Northeast Victorian Studies Association in 2011.

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published November 24, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “I Am No Thing To Thank God On,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer, with help from Leonor Fernandez. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

    • 37 min.
    Black Lives Matter in "Titus Andronicus"

    Black Lives Matter in "Titus Andronicus"

    In his classes at Binghamton University, David Sterling Brown and his students examine Shakespeare’s plays through the lens of Critical Race Theory. You might have heard about Critical Race Theory lately: put simply, it’s a way of looking at society and culture that focuses on the intersections of race, law, and power. Ever since George Floyd’s killing by a white police officer in Minneapolis outraged much of the nation, Critical Race Theory has taken on a new urgency for millions of Americans examining race, law and power with new eyes. Meanwhile, millions of other Americans, pointing to the realities of their own day-to-day lives, are basically saying: “I told you so.”

    What does it mean to read a play like Titus Andronicus with questions of race in mind? Brown, who has written extensively about that play, joins us on the podcast to discuss the ways that such a reading reveals an entire dimension of racial imagery and racial violence. We also talk about what it means for theaters and cultural institutions to engage in anti-racist work. David Sterling Brown is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

    Dr. David Sterling Brown is a professor of English, General Literature and Rhetoric at Binghamton University/State University of New York. He is an executive board member of the RaceB4Race conference series.

    He is the author of “‘Is Black so Base a Hue?’: Black Life Matters in Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus,” a chapter in the anthology Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); “Remixing the Family,” which appeared in Titus Andronicus: The State of Play (The Arden Shakespeare, 2019); and “The ‘Sonic Color Line’: Shakespeare and the Canonization of Sexual Violence Against Black Men,” published in the August 16, 2019 edition of The Sundial. He is currently finalizing his book project, Black Domestic Matters in Shakespearean Drama. More of his work has been published or is forthcoming in Shakespeare Studies, Radical Teacher, Hamlet: The State of Play, White People in Shakespeare, The Hare, Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies, Shakespeare and Digital Pedagogy, and other venues.
    With Jennifer L. Stoever, he joined the Folger Institute in August for a Critical Race Conversation: “The Sound of Whiteness, Or Teaching Shakespeare’s ‘Other “Race Plays”’ in Five Acts.” Watch it now on YouTube.

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published November 10, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, ““Coal-Black is Better Than Another Hue,” 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 help from Andrew Feliciano and Evan Marquart at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

    • 34 min.
    The Show Must Go Online

    The Show Must Go Online

    In March, theaters were beginning to cancel ongoing and upcoming productions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Glasgow-based actor Robert Myles had just lost a gig that would have taken him through April. He’d been chatting with his wife about what to do, and one night, he tweeted:

    "In response to #Covid_19, I'm going to set up an online #Shakespeare play-reading group via Zoom or similar. Once a week, evenings UK-time so US people can join during the day as well. We have to do what we can to stay connected and creative over this time. Anyone interested?"

    His tweet blew up, and that play-reading group became The Show Must Go Online. The hugely successful series, available for free on YouTube, is working through all of Shakespeare’s plays in the order in which they are believed to have been written. The Show Must Go Online creatively uses the everyday facts of life in a pandemic—living rooms, laptops, and, of course, Zoom—to bring actors from around the world together in innovative performances of Shakespeare’s plays.

    We talked with Myles about The Show Must Go Online’s incredible success, the process of creating virtual theater, and the community his project has created. He is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.
    New Show Must Go Online productions happen every Wednesday at 7 pm BST/2 pm EDT. To find out more, contribute, and watch all of their past performances, visit robmyles.co.uk/theshowmustgoonline/.

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published October 27, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, ““Kindly to Judge Our Play,” 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 help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

    • 30 min.
    Writing About the Plague in Shakespeare’s England

    Writing About the Plague in Shakespeare’s England

    Between 1348 and the early years of the 18th century, successive waves of the plague rolled across Europe, killing millions of people and affecting every aspect of life. Despite the plague’s enormous toll on early modern English life, Shakespeare’s plays refer to it only tangentially. Why is that? And what did people write about the plague in early modern England?

    Over the past 20 years, Rebecca Totaro has been collecting contemporary writing about the plague. She has written five books about its cultural impact. We asked her to join us for a conversation about what Shakespeare’s contemporaries wrote about the plague—and why, just as often, they turned away from it. She is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

    Dr. Rebecca Totaro is an associate dean and a professor of literature in the College of Arts & Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. She has written or edited five books: Meteorology and Physiology in Early Modern Culture; Representing the Plague in Early Modern England, which she wrote with Ernest B. Gilman; The Plague Epic in Early Modern England: Heroic Measures, 1603–1721; The Plague in Print; and Suffering in Paradise: The Bubonic Plague in English Literary Studies from More to Milton.

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published October 13, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “’Twas Pretty, Though a Plague,” 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 help from Andrew Feliciano and Evan Marquart at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

    • 36 min.
    Lady Romeo

    Lady Romeo

    Charlotte Cushman was one of the most famous American theater artists of the mid-19th century. And while she was known for her Lady Macbeth and Oliver Twist’s Nancy, she was acclaimed for her performances as Romeo and Hamlet.

    The newest book about Cushman’s life is Tana Wojczuk’s "Lady Romeo: The Radical and Revolutionary Life of Charlotte Cushman, America’s First Celebrity." Cushman’s life was radical indeed. She played Shakespeare’s leading men with an emotionality and vulnerability that took audiences by surprise, started a bohemian artists’ colony in Rome, and lived publicly as a queer woman. We invited Wojczuk to join us on the podcast to chat about Cushman’s life, loves, work, tragedies, swordsmanship, and more.

    Tana Wojczuk is a senior nonfiction editor at Guernica. She teaches writing at New York University. She has worked as an arts critic for Vice, Bomb Magazine, and Paste and as a columnist for Guernica. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tin House, The Believer, Gulf Coast, Apogee, Lapham’s Quarterly, The Rumpus, Narrative, Opium Magazine, and elsewhere. "Lady Romeo: The Radical and Revolutionary Life of Charlotte Cushman, America's First Celebrity" was published by Avid Reader Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster, in 2020.

    Wojczuk's appreciation for The Folger Shakespeare editions, "How Shakespeare Paperbacks Made Me Want to Be A Writer," appeared recently in The New York Times Magazine's Letter of Recommendation column.

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published September 29, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “Do You Not Know I Am a Woman?”, 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 help from Andrew Feliciano and Evan Marquart at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

    • 30 min.
    Richard II on the Radio

    Richard II on the Radio

    The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to theater in the United States. Broadway and regional theaters are dark, and Shakespeare festivals across the country have cancelled their seasons. So it wasn’t a surprise when The Public Theater decided, for the first time in 66 years, that they couldn’t offer free Shakespeare in Central Park.

    But what they did instead made one of their scheduled productions—"Richard II," directed by Saheem Ali—more accessible to more people than ever before. The Public joined forces with New York’s public radio station, WNYC. Together, they created something that hasn’t been done before: a four-night serialized program that combined a presentation of "Richard II" with expert analysis and stories from cast members to contextualize the play in these unusual times. Director Ali worked hand-in-hand with WNYC producers Emily Botein, Matt Collette, and Isaac Jones to overcome massive challenges, like having twenty-six actors appear from twenty-six different locations and getting it all done in a compressed, 12-week period.

    We talk to Ali and Botein about just how they addressed those hurdles to create their radio production of "Richard II"—which you can listen to now as a podcast. Ali and Botein are interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

    Saheem Ali is the director of The Public and WNYC’s radio production of "Richard II." Ali has directed nearly 25 plays, mostly in New York, over the past 10 years. He has his fingers crossed for two productions—in New York and in Berkeley—in 2021.

    Emily Botien is Vice President for On-Demand Content at WNYC public radio in New York, where she oversees national programs including “Death, Sex & Money.”

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. Published September 15, 2020. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “Weeping Made You Break the Story Off” 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 help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

    • 34 min.

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