198 episodes

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

    • Arts
    • 4.8 • 679 Ratings

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.

    Brett Dean and Matthew Jocelyn on Their Hamlet Opera

    Brett Dean and Matthew Jocelyn on Their Hamlet Opera

    A new opera version of Hamlet is onstage at New York’s Metropolitan Opera through June 9. Composer Brett Dean and librettist Matthew Jocelyn talk with host Barbara Bogaev about adapting the texts of the earliest editions of Hamlet to create a libretto that subverts expectations and composing orchestrations that take audiences inside the minds of Hamlet and Ophelia.

    The Saturday, June 4 performance of Hamlet will be transmitted live to movie theaters around the world via The Met’s Live in HD series. Watch it at a cinema near you.

    Brett Dean is the composer and Matthew Jocelyn is the librettist for Hamlet, which premiered at Britain’s Glyndebourne Festival in 2017. The opera is onstage at the Metropolitan Opera through June 9.

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published May 24, 2022. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “Sing Thee to Thy Rest,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Leonor Fernandez edits our transcripts. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Evan Marquart at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

    • 33 min
    Shakespeare and Ukraine, with Irena Makaryk

    Shakespeare and Ukraine, with Irena Makaryk

    Director Oleksandr “Les” Kurbas’s 1920 Macbeth was the first production of a Shakespeare play in Ukraine. Kurbas staged the play in the midst of the famine and violence of the Russian Civil War: Lady Macbeth fainted from hunger in the wings, and Kurbas used series of hand signals to warn the actors onstage that they were about to be shot at.

    Kurbas was one of the main subjects of “‘What's Past is Prologue’: Shakespeare and Canon Formation in Early Soviet Ukraine,” a presentation given by Dr. Irena Makaryk at Shakespeare and the Worlds of Communism, a 1996 conference sponsored by the Folger, Penn State University, and the Russian Embassy in Washington. The event looked at Shakespeare’s role in the formation of culture within the bloc of countries that had been allied with the newly-collapsed Soviet Union.

    Makaryk’s paper explored the ways Ukrainians used Shakespeare’s plays to assert the existence and value of Ukrainian culture. She also examined how the Russians—first the Czars, and then the Soviets—repressed Ukrainian theater order to keep Ukrainian culture under their thumb. As Vladimir Putin’s savage invasion of Ukraine continues, we spoke with Makaryk about her research on Shakespeare, theater, and Ukrainian national identity. She is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

    Dr. Irena Makaryk is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of English at the University of Ottawa. Her book Shakespeare in the Undiscovered Bourn: Les Kurbas, Ukrainian Modernism, and Early Soviet Cultural Politics was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2004. You can read her paper “‘What's Past is Prologue’: Shakespeare and Canon Formation in Early Soviet Ukraine” in Shakespeare in the Worlds of Communism and Socialism. The paperback edition was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2013.

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published May 10, 2022. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “I Do but Dream on Sovereignty,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Leonor Fernandez edits a transcript of every episode, available at folger.edu.

    We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano, Lucas Kuzma and Evan Marquart at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.

    • 32 min
    Leonard Barkan on Reading Shakespeare Reading Me

    Leonard Barkan on Reading Shakespeare Reading Me

    In Hamlet, Shakespeare writes that theater holds a “mirror up to nature.” In his new book, Princeton professor Leonard Barkan tells us that when he reads Shakespeare, it holds a mirror up to Leonard Barkan—and that when you read Shakespeare, it holds up a mirror to you.

    When most of us read, Barkan reminds us, we bring our own experiences to the text, asking personal questions like “What about my life?” and “How does this make me feel?” His book Reading Shakespeare Reading Me combines memoir and literary criticism, analyzing ten Shakespeare plays and locating their parallels in the intimate details of his parents’ marriages and early lives, his coming of age as a gay man, and many of the deaths, loves, achievements, and disappointments that have made up his time on Earth. Leonard Barkan is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

    Leonard Barkan is the Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton University. He is the author of numerous books including The Hungry Eye: Eating, Drinking, and the Culture of Europe from Rome to the Renaissance; Michelangelo: A Life on Paper; and Unearthing the Past: Archaeology and Aesthetics in the Making of Renaissance Culture. Reading Shakespeare Reading Me was published by Fordham University Press in 2022.

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published April 26, 2022. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “Who Is It That Can Tell Me What I Am?” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Leonor Fernandez edits a transcript of every episode, available at folger.edu. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Josh Wilcox and Walter Nordquist at Brooklyn Podcasting Studio in New York.

    • 33 min
    Pamela Hutchinson on Asta Nielsen's Hamlet

    Pamela Hutchinson on Asta Nielsen's Hamlet

    In 1921, Asta Nielsen, one of the world’s biggest movie star in the world had just formed her own production company, and decided to open it up by playing Hamlet. Plenty of women had done that on the stage in the 19th century, but Nielsen’s performance had a twist. Inspired by a mysterious American’s quirky book, Nielsen decided to make a version of Hamlet where the lead character was born a woman, a fact that was kept secret from nearly all of the play’s characters for her entire life.

    We talk about this film and Nielsen’s remarkable career with Pamela Hutchinson, a writer and film historian who recently curated the British Film Institute’s Asta Nielsen film festival about Nielsen’s Hamlet.

    Pamela Hutchinson is a freelance writer, film historian, and curator. You can read her film writing in Sight & Sound, Criterion, and in The Guardian. She’s a regular on BBC radio. Her website, devoted to silent films, is Silent London, at silentlondon.co.uk. Visit the British Film Institute’s website at bfi.org.uk for information about their recently concluded Asta Nielsen film festival.

    Find Hamlet and more of Nielsen's films on the Danish Film Institute's website, stumfilm.dk.

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published April 12, 2022. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “What Woman Then?,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Leonor Fernandez edits a transcript of every episode, available at folger.edu. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Ali Gavan at Brighton Road Recording Studios in South Downs National Park, West Sussex, England.

    • 34 min
    How the Commedia Dell'Arte's Actresses Changed the Shakespearean Stage, with Pamela Allen Brown

    How the Commedia Dell'Arte's Actresses Changed the Shakespearean Stage, with Pamela Allen Brown

    English women didn’t act on London’s professional stages until the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. But Dr. Pamela Allen Brown, author of The Diva's Gift to the Shakespearean Stage, argues that star actresses from Italy altered both plays and playing despite this fact, a process that began in the 1570s, when commedia dell’arte troupes first set foot in London.

    Those Italian troupes featured something radically new and controversial: “divine” actresses who played the lead innamorata in vehicles and star scenes that spanned genres. After English diplomats and travelers to the Continent encountered this novelty in the 1570s, a few commedia troupes crossed the Channel to play for Elizabeth and for popular audiences, bringing actresses with them. And, Professor Brown says, the Italians’ creativity and materials and the diva’s fame and skill spurred writers to generate Italianate plays featuring strong-willed, theatrically brilliant foreign women, played by boys. In the long run, this revolution in playing widened the horizons of drama and regendered the stage. Pamela Allen Brown is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

    Pamela Allen Brown is a Professor of English at the University of Connecticut at Stamford. Her previous books include Better a Shrew than a Sheep: Women, Drama, and the Culture of Jest in Early Modern England, published by Cornell University Press in 2003, and Women Players in Early Modern England: Beyond the All-Male Stage, which she co-edited with Peter Parolin. That was published by Ashgate in 2005. Her new book, The Diva's Gift to the Shakespearean Stage, was published by Oxford University Press in 2021.

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published March 29, 2022. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “I Shall See Some Squeaking Cleopatra Boy My Greatness,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Leonor Fernandez edits a transcript of every episode, available at folger.edu. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Paul Luke at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Josh Wilcox and Walter Nordquist at Brooklyn Podcasting Studio in Brooklyn, New York.

    • 29 min
    Matías Piñeiro on His Shakespeare-Adjacent Films

    Matías Piñeiro on His Shakespeare-Adjacent Films

    An Argentine woman translates "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" while incessantly taping travel postcards to a wall. An actress in Buenos Aires seduces her colleague while rehearsing a scene for "Twelfth Night." A theater troupe flirts its way through rehearsals of "As You Like It" in an Argentine forest. If you’re noticing a pattern here, you’re not mistaken.

    These scenes all come from the films of Argentine filmmaker Matías Piñeiro. Born in Buenos Aires and now living in New York, Piñeiro has developed a cycle of six beautifully-filmed movies he calls “The Shakespeare Reads,” all of which are based around the female roles in Shakespeare’s comedies. Piñeiro talks with Barbara Bogaev about his unique approach to his work and his craft.

    Matías Piñeiro is a screenwriter, director, and filmmaker. The six films in his “The Shakespeare Reads” series are "Rosalinda," "Viola," "The Princess of France," "Hermia & Helena," "Isabella," and the short film "Sycorax." Stream all of these films on MUBI, or buy them on Blu-ray and DVD from the Cinema Guild.

    Piñeiro teaches filmmaking at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute and coordinates the filmmaking department at the Elías Querejeta Film School in San Sebastián, Spain.

    From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published Tuesday, March 15. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “To Play a Pleasant Comedy,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Leonor Fernandez edits our transcripts. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Evan Marquart at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Josh Wilcox at Brooklyn Podcasting Studio in Brooklyn, New York.

    • 35 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
679 Ratings

679 Ratings

Long-time Cricket fan ,

Always interesting, always entertaining

Never rote or derivative. Well worth your while.

deemalet ,

Fascinating

Great insight into far more tjan Shakespeare.

marias616 ,

Excellent.

The shows don’t disappoint.

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