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Thursday, January 31, 2013

"If it were done": Olivier's Unrealized Film of *Macbeth*

A researcher in the Great Britain has unearthed the supposedly lost screenplay for a projected film version of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which was to be directed by Sir Laurence Olivier, starring Olivier and his then-wife, Vivien Leigh. The couple had presented Macbeth on stage at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1955, but financing for the motion picture collapsed (as did the marriage).  For more of the story, visit Wheeler Winston Dixon's entry on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Frame by Frame blog: 


Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Comedies -- or, rather, Shakespeare's Women

Joely Richardson hosts the second installment of Shakespeare Uncovered (which airs on NET Television Friday, January 25 at 10 p.m. -- immediately after Ethan Hawke in the first episode).  The overall theme is "The Comedies" but the real focus is on stages, families, stage families (Richardson discusses Shakespeare with her mother, Vanessa Redgrave), and especially the women of the plays.  It's a fascinating look at how important women are to Shakespeare: in his life (listen to Germaine Greer on Anne Hathaway Shakespeare), in his plays (especially comedic heroines like Rosalind in As You Like It), in performance (both acting and directing), and in scholarship (Marjorie Garber, Gail Kern Paster, Laurie Maguire, and scholar-actor Abigail Rokinson, among many others).  The still above shows Richardson visiting London's reconstructed, open-air Globe Theatre as snow falls.  

Follow the link for director Thea Sharrock on her stages (sorry) of introduction to Shakespeare:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hawke and Easton, Richardson and Redgrave

Shakespeare Uncovered begins Friday, 9 p.m., on NET Television.  The first episode, which explores Macbeth, is hosted by Ethan Hawke.  At one point, Hawke asks the advice of Richard Easton -- the two of them have worked together in plays by Tom Stoppard -- about Macbeth's great soliloquy encountering the vision of a dagger.  For Shakespeare fans, Easton is perhaps most revered for his Constable of France in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V.  But Easton was also part of the very first season of the Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, Ontario, back in 1953, as documented by this Grant MacDonald sketch, found in the commemorative book Renown at Stratford.

The second episode, which first airs at 10 p.m., is hosted by Joely Richardson and explores Shakespeare's comedic heroines, especially those in Twelfth Night and As You Like It.  In several sequences, Richardson interviews her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, about Rosalind -- her breakthrough role.  Stay tuned to PBS and this blog!

For broadcast and rebroadcast information visit: www.netnebraska.org/basic-page/television/television

Saturday, January 12, 2013

*Shakespeare Uncovered* Comes to PBS (with NET Television Schedule)

Shakespeare Uncovered is a unique series of six films combining history, biography, outstanding performances, new analyses, and the personal passion of 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.

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.

Synopses of the six episodes:

Macbeth (premieres Friday, Jan. 25, 9 p.m. (CT) on NET1/HD)
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.

Twelfth Night & As You Like It (premieres Friday, Jan. 25, 10 p.m. (CT) on NET1/HD)
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.

Richard II (premieres Friday, Feb. 1, 9.p.m. (CT) on NET1/HD
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 (premieres Friday, Feb. 1, 10 p.m. (CT) on NET1/HD)
Jeremy Irons (who stars as Henry IV in the upcoming new Great Prformances 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.  And 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 and Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal.

Hamlet (premieres Friday, Feb. 8, 9 p.m. (CT) on NET1/HD)
An acclaimed Hamlet himself in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s recent hit production (and another recent Great Performances production), David Tennant meets with fellow Hamlets, including superstar Jude Law, comparing notes on the titanic challenge of playing the most iconic of all roles. He also tries, alongside Simon Russell Beale and Ben Whishaw, to master the meaning of the play and the reason why it is considered the greatest of all Shakespeare’s works.

The Tempest (premieres Friday, Feb. 8, 10 p.m. (CT) on NET1/HD)
Trevor Nunn has directed 30 of Shakespeare’s 37 plays and is determined to complete them all before he retires.  Nunn takes us through the magical and mysterious world created in Shakespeare’s last complete play. He considers The Tempest Shakespeare’s farewell from the stage and relates the play to the playwright’s family life. Among the enthusiastic students of the play who contribute ideas about the role of Prospero is the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as Helen Mirren and director Julie Taymor, who collaborated on the most recent film adaptation – with Mirren playing a female Prospera.

Shakespeare Uncovered was 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.