In this first of Hay Festival's 2014 sessions celebrating the 450th birthday of the playwright, the Renaissance scholar explores Shakespeare’s relationship with the Islamic world in the history plays and in his tragedies.
The eponymous lovers have become synonymous with intense young love, and the image of a young man wooing his love at a balcony is now iconic. The Shakespeare scholar will explore a range of stage productions and adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, aimed specifically at young people.
The writer and actor, hailed in the West End and on Broadway for his Malvolio, talks about the Bard and Love.
The novelist talks about her play written in response to Shakespeare’s Othello. Her workis an intimate dialogue of words and music between Desdemona and her African nurse Barbary. Morrison gives voice and depth to the female characters, letting them speak and sing in the fullness of their hearts.
Other events in the Shakespeare 450 series - 34, 55 and 446.
The theatre and film director discusses his film versions of Shakespeare’s History plays, and their role both in Shakespeare’s canon and in our understanding of Britain’s identity.
Other events in the Shakespeare 450 series - 34, 55 and 235.
The actress talks about her Shakespearean work and celebrates her album of great speeches, Exits and Entrances.
The inspiring and provocative writer and scholar talks about Juliet, Beatrice, Ophelia, Cleopatra, Ann Hathaway and the Dark Lady of the Sonnets with festival director Peter Florence.
In November 1596 a woman signed a document which would nearly destroy the career of William Shakespeare… Who was the woman who played such an instrumental, yet little known, role in Shakespeare’s life? Never far from controversy when she was alive – she sparked numerous riots and indulged in acts of bribery, breaking-and-entering, and kidnapping – Elizabeth Russell has been edited out of public memory, yet the chain of events she set in motion would be the making of Shakespeare as we all know him today.
Shakespeare is the best and most creative writer of the English language of all time. He deploys the widest and most thrilling vocabulary, drawing on classical and biblical scholarship and the keenest ear for human speech ever bent. And where the words he needed didn’t exist, he invented them. The classical actor and his father, the great Linguistics professor, entertain us with the most vital language ever used.
The Deputy Artistic Director of the RSC discusses her current production. As a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and his great legacy, the production features local amateur companies in all 12 regions and nations of the UK playing Shakespeare’s Mechanicals alongside the professional cast. Erica shares her thoughts as the tour concludes in Cardiff and Belfast, and the company prepares to return to Stratford-upon-Avon for a final run featuring performances from all the amateur companies.
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare we have commissioned six English language and six Hispanic writers to create stories to celebrate both writers and to offer new and intriguing perspectives on them. In this first of three sessions chaired by Rosie Goldsmith, the first three writers introduce their tales. “Yuri Herrera must be a thousand years old. He must have travelled to hell, and heaven, and back again. He must have once been a girl, an animal, a rock, a boy, and a woman. Nothing else explains the vastness of his understanding” – Valeria Luiselli. Marcos Giralt Torrente is the winner of the Spanish National Book Award, whose The End of Love is published in English. Poet and novelist Ben Okri won the Booker Prize for The Famished Road.
The Samuel Johnson Prize-winning author of 1599 offers an intimate portrait of one of Shakespeare’s most inspired moments: the year of King Lear, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. 1606, while a very good year for Shakespeare, is a fraught one for England. Plague returns. There is surprising resistance to the new king’s desire to turn England and Scotland into a united Britain. And fear and uncertainty sweep the land and expose deep divisions in the aftermath of a failed terrorist attack that came to be known as the Gunpowder Plot.
With an absent wife and a daughter going off the rails, wealthy art collector and philanthropist Simon Strulovitch is in need of someone to talk to. So when he meets Shylock at a cemetery in Cheshire’s Golden Triangle, he invites him back to his house. It’s the beginning of a remarkable friendship. The Man Booker winner’s version of The Merchant of Venice bends time to its own advantage as it asks what it means to be a father, a Jew and a merciful human being in the modern world.
The second of three events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare in which three of the writers commissioned introduce their work. Leyshon is the author of the novels The Colour of Milk and Memoirs of a Dipper, and Bedlam, the first play by a woman ever to be performed at Shakespeare’s Globe; Brook’s most recent novel is The Aftermath; Molina Foix is one of Spain’s most distinguished novelists and film directors. Chaired by Daniel Hahn.
In 1570, when it became clear she would never be gathered into the Catholic fold, Elizabeth I was excommunicated by the Pope. On the principle that my enemy’s enemy is my friend, this marked the beginning of an extraordinary English alignment with the Muslim powers fighting Catholic Spain in the Mediterranean, and of cultural, economic and political exchanges with the Islamic world of a depth not again experienced until the modern age. England signed treaties with the Ottoman Porte, received ambassadors from the kings of Morocco and shipped munitions to Marrakesh. By the late 1580s hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Elizabethan merchants, diplomats, sailors, artisans and privateers were plying their trade from Morocco to Persia.
These included the resourceful mercer Anthony Jenkinson who met both Süleyman the Magnificent and the Persian Shah Tahmasp in the 1560s, William Harborne, the Norfolk merchant who became the first English ambassador to the Ottoman court in 1582 and the adventurer Sir Anthony Sherley, who spent much of 1600 at the court of Shah Abbas the Great. The previous year, remarkably, Elizabeth sent the Lancastrian blacksmith Thomas Dallam to the Ottoman capital to play his clockwork organ in front of Sultan Mehmed. The awareness of Islam which these Englishmen brought home found its way into many of the great cultural productions of the day, including most famously Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, and Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and The Merchant of Venice. The year after Dallam’s expedition, the Moroccan ambassador, Abd al-Wahid bin Mohammed al-Annuri, spent six months in London with his entourage. Shakespeare wrote Othello six months later. Brotton shows that England’s relations with the Muslim world were far more extensive, and often more amicable, than we have appreciated, and that their influence was felt across the political, commercial and domestic landscape of Elizabethan England.
Daniel Hahn is joined by novelists from Britain, Mexico and Colombia to celebrate the 400th anniversaries of Cervantes and Shakespeare and the stories that they have written around them.
Supported by The British Council and Acción Cultural Española
A conversation about Shakespeare’s greatest plays and roles, his fondness for prime numbers and his stagecraft. The UCL English Prof is joined by the first woman to write a play for the main stage of Shakespeare’s Globe, the Oxford Maths professor and the Booker-winning novelist and poet.
Take a fresh look at Shakespeare with the Blue Peter Award-winning author as she gives action-packed retellings of Macbeth, Hamlet, A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Romeo and Juliet.
What did performances of Shakespeare’s plays sound like in his day? Linguistics professor David Crystal introduces OP (original pronunciation) and marvels at the wonders of the playwright’s revolutionary vocabulary. Molina Foix (who translates Shakespeare for contemporary Spanish theatre) considers the reality that most people in the world discover the great writer’s work in translation.
As part of Hay Festival’s big Shakespeare 400 Celebrations, the writer and lecturer discusses the playwright’s poetry.
In late November 1623, the publisher Edward Blount finally took delivery at his bookshop, at the sign of the Black Bear near St Paul’s, of a book that had long been in the making: Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. Professor Smith tells the story of that first collected edition of the plays, and follows the journeys of individual copies now located around the world with their tell-tale annotations, wine stains, provenance and uses.
The great poet discusses her experience of Shakespeare and her long relationship with Lyr, the subject of her masterpiece full-length poem The King of Britain’s Daughter. That poem itself was commissioned by the festival as an exploration of the words and ideas she began to play with in the 1989 Poetry Squantum, held upstairs in the back bar of the British Legion club in Hay.
History has pictured Elizabeth I as Gloriana, an icon of strength and power. But the reality, especially during her later years, was not as simple. In 1583 Elizabeth is 50 and beyond childbearing age, but her greatest challenges are still to come: the Spanish Armada; the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots; and relentless plotting among her courtiers. The pre-eminent Tudor historian presents a gripping and vivid portrait of Elizabeth’s life and times –often told in her own words (“You know I am no morning woman”) and reveals a monarch who is fallible, increasingly insecure and struggling to lead Britain. The London theatre, however, was thriving.
An all-star line-up of British poets respond with their own poems to their choice of Shakespeare’s 14-line poems. They introduce and read the original sonnets and their own newly commissioned work.