Guardian Shakespeare Solos

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.022  Monday, 1 February 2016


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Monday, February 1, 2016

Subject:    Guardian Shakespeare Solos


Leading actors film new Shakespeare Solos series for the Guardian


Leading actors film new Shakespeare Solos series for the Guardian

Adrian Lester, David Morrissey and Eileen Atkins are among the stars performing some of Shakespeare’s greatest speeches in a set of videos to mark the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death


Adrian Lester returns to the role of Hamlet and Roger Allam takes on King Lear for the first time in a major new series of Guardian videos, launched today. Shakespeare Solos, a project to mark the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death, brings together a lineup of outstanding actors who each perform a key speech from the plays. The first six videos also star Eileen Atkins, Ayesha Dharker, Joanna Vanderham and David Morrissey.

Lester gained acclaim when he played Hamlet for director Peter Brook in a stripped-back production at the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris in 2000 and the Young Vic in London the following year. For Shakespeare Solos, he delivers the “to be or not to be” soliloquy which the actor describes as “Shakespeare at his best”. Lester said he hardly had to relearn the soliloquy before filming the video as he and Brook had spent “so long getting it in the blood” for the stage production. Lester, who is currently appearing in Red Velvet at the Garrick theatre in London, said the speech captures the “quiet, profound nature” of Hamlet’s despair and that it is also “an intellectual outpouring, because Hamlet is a very bookish person. But at the heart of it is a very fundamental question about whether he should live or die.”


For Lester, playing Shakespeare on camera was “quite liberating, because the complexity of all of those thoughts can be brought right down for the screen. You don’t have to do anything but believe what you’re saying … rather than turning front and centre [on stage] and firing it down to the audience. The complexity of thought has a delicacy to it. You have to be careful about it – at times, it can be slightly destroyed when you’re concentrating on technically making sure the audience can hear you and delivering the kind of bombast required.”


While Lester’s solo found him returning to a familiar speech, Roger Allam’s gave him the opportunity to play a part he has long desired a crack at: King Lear, which is often described as a mountain of a role. One stormy night, when he was playing Falstaff at Shakespeare’s Globe in London in 2010, Allam surprised audiences by suddenly going into Lear’s “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks” speech. He performs those lines for Shakespeare Solos.


The videos, directed by Dan Susman, have been mostly shot at the Guardian’s multimedia studio but Atkins was filmed on location at a restaurant for her performance as Emilia from Othello. We are put in Desdemona’s place as Atkins intimately addresses the camera: “But I do think it is their husbands’ faults if wives do fall.” Emilia is one of the characters Atkins is currently playing in her one-woman show at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.


[ . . . ]




February BSA Bulletin

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.021  Monday, 1 February 2016


From:        BSA <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         February 1, 2016 at 4:45:14 AM EST

Subject:    BSA Members' Bulletin - February 2016




BSA appoints New Education Trustees

The Board is pleased to welcome two new co-opted trustees, Karen Eckersall and Chris Green, to the BSA board. Karen and Chris will be working closely with Sarah Olive, chair of the Education Committee, to help the BSA develop its Education strategy. You can find full details of the Board at the BSA People page.


New Honorary Fellows: Chris Grace and Dame Janet Suzman

On 7 November 2015, the BSA awarded Lifetime Honorary Fellowships to Chris Grace and Dame Janet Suzman in an event at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Janet Suzman discussed her groundbreaking work as a director and actor in conversation with Alison Findlay, and Chris Grace gave an illustrated lecture on his work in creating Shakespeare – The Animated Tales and the Shakespeare Schools Festival. For more information about the Fellows, please visit our webpage.


BSA Journal Volume 11 now published

Volume 11 of the BSA journal Shakespeare is now out, including special issues on ‘Adaptation and Early Modern Culture: Shakespeare and Beyond’, and ‘“Roaring Girls: The Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2014 Season’ as well as two open issues with a wide range of articles, critical debates and performance reviews.


Recent articles published online include John V. Nance’s investigation of the authorship of 2 Henry VI and Lars Harald Maagero’s discussion of communication in a Norwegian A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Current members can subscribe to the journal – including the physical volume and full online access – at the heavily discounted price of £15. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details and missing volumes.

New BSA Education blog

On the BSA Education blog this month, Laura Louise Nicklin reviews the TECbook learning resource for Much Ado about Nothing.

Preparing for Hull 2016

The 2016 annual conference, ‘Shakespearean Transformations: Death, Life, and Afterlives’, takes place 8-11 September 2016 at the University of Hull. Please visit the conference website for full details. Highlights include Spymonkey performing The Complete Deaths at Hull Truck (all the onstage deaths in Shakespeare in one show) and a conference dinner held among the fish tanks at The Deep, one of the most spectacular aquariums in the world and home to 3,500 fish.

Disability and Shakespearean Theatre Symposium

The BSA is supporting this conference, taking place at the University of Glasgow on 20 April 2016. Attendance is FREE to BSA members in good standing. For more information, please visit the conference website.


Applying for funding

The BSA is able to award small amounts of money to Shakespeare-related education events, academic conferences and other activities taking place in the UK. For more information or to apply for funding, please email the Chair of the Events Committee, Susan Anderson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or the Chair of the Education Committee, Sarah Olive (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).



We are pleased to advertise news and activities by our members and other Shakespeare associations. If you would like to advertise a Shakespeare-related activity, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Items below are not affiliated with or endorsed by the BSA – please use individual contact details for more information.

BBC Shakespeare Archive now available to UK schools

The BBC has recently launched the BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource. This new online resource provides schools, colleges and universities across the UK with access to hundreds of BBC television and radio broadcasts of Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets and documentaries about Shakespeare. The material includes the first British televised adaptations of Othello and Henry V, classic interviews with key Shakespearean actors including John Gielgud, Judi Dench and Laurence Olivier, and more than 1000 photographs of Shakespeare productions.

‘On Shakespeare’s Sonnets’ at King’s College London

Working with King’s College London, the Arden Shakespeare and the British Council, the Royal Society of Literature has commissioned some of the country’s greatest poets to respond in verse to Shakespeare’s sonnets. Join us to celebrate the publication of the anthology, On Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Poets’ Celebration, and listen to ten poets read and discuss their work. The reading is chaired by Shakespeare scholar Margreta de Grazia. 11 February 2016, 7pm, King’s College London.

Shakespeare and Democracy talks and workshops

Celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary with a talk or workshop by Gabriel Chanan, author of the newly published Shakespeare and Democracy (Troubador, 2015). Shakespeare’s vision of how societies hold together or break apart is startlingly relevant today, and Gabriel illustrates this through a range of tailored events exploring gender, war, subversion and democracy. For more information, please see here or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Sonnets for Schools Competition

Are you a budding bard? Do you know someone who is? Are you a teacher with a class full of young talent just waiting for a good challenge? Writers from schools all over the Portsmouth area can now become part of Much Ado about Portsmouth by writing their own sonnet and entering it in the Sonnets for Schools Competition. For more information, please visit the website. Entries must be received by 4 March 2016.


Shakespeare: Birmingham

Shakespeare: Birmingham organises weekly gatherings / play readings in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham (Tuesdays, 6.30-9.00pm) and monthly workshops aimed at increasing enjoyment of Shakespeare through any means possible! All are welcome to attend. For details of meetings, please visit the website at, which also lists all Shakespeare productions happening in the area.


Antony Sher interview at The Guardian

In a Guardian Live event in London, Sir Antony Sher offers a frank account of his struggles on and off the stage, talking about his new book, Year of the Fat Knight, his early days in South Africa and his 28-year relationship with director Greg Doran. The full recording of the event is available at the Guardian website.


New Books by BSA Member

BSA member Cedric Watts has two new books: Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’: A Critical Introduction (London: PublishNation, 2015), and Shakespeare’s Puzzles (London: PublishNation, 2014). Shakespeare Puzzles (‘lively … informative entertainment’, Times Literary Supplement) contains 25 puzzles ranging from ‘The Sonnets: autobiographical or fictional?’ to ‘Prospero’s Epilogue: is it really Shakespeare’s farewell?’. Cedric Watts is general editor of the Wordsworth Classics’ Shakespeare series and the author of several critical books.

Indian Shakespeares on Screen conference and film festival in London

‘Indian Shakespeares on Screen’ examines the full influence of Shakespeare in Indian cinema. The project will include a major international conference and exhibition at Asia House, London (27-29 April), followed by a film festival at BFI Southbank (29-30 April) featuring screenings of the Indian Shakespeare trilogy Maqbool (Macbeth), Omkara (Othello) and Haider (Hamlet) and public interviews with the films’ screenwriters and director Vishal Bhardwaj. For more information please visit the conference website or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Shakespeare Documented online exhibition launched

Shakespeare Documented is a multi-institutional collaboration convened by the Folger Shakespeare Library to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. This free online exhibition constitutes the largest and most authoritative collection of primary-source materials documenting the life of William Shakespeare (1564-1616). It brings together images and descriptions of all known manuscript and print references to Shakespeare, his works, and additional references to his family, in his lifetime and shortly thereafter.


Public Lecture: Shakespeare’s Henry V and Scotland

On Thursday 11th February, Professor Lorna Hutson will present a lecture entitled ‘Thinking with causes: Henry V and Scotland’ at the Sheffield Centre for Early Modern Studies. Written at the time of the accession of a Scots king to the English throne, Henry V has been called a ‘succession play’. Yet its representation of Scotland goes unmentioned by critics, a silence that this lecture will address. This lecture is free and open to all.



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