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Shakespeare’s Speeches – Download Audio April 30, 2008

Posted by audiobooksnow in Arts & Drama Audio Books, Classic Literature, Dramatizations, Shakespeare.
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BBC Radio - Shakespeare's Speeches

An Anthology Of Shakespearian Speches Performed By The World’s Leading Actors

BBC Radio Collection – All The World’s A Stage

Romeo & Juliet – Act I, Scene III
“O Romeo, Romeo – wherefore art thou Romeo”. This impassioned speech is beautifully spoken by Fay Compton in this BBC Sound archives recording.

Hamlet – Act III, Scene I
‘To be or not to be – that is the question….’ In this BBC Sound Archive recording, Michael Redgrave stars as Shakespeare’s troubled Prince of Denmark.

Henry V – Act IV, Scene III
‘This day is called the feast of Crispian….’ In one of the most famous and inspirational of Shakespeare’s speeches, Richard Burton’s rich and resonant voice delivers Henry V’s address to his army on the eve of Agincourt!

King Lear – Act II, Scene IV
‘I prithee, daughter, do not make me mad…’ Alec Guinness’s performance as King Lear stirs the listener in this recording from the BBC Sound Archives.

Macbeth – Act I, Scene VII
‘If it were done when ’tis done…’ From the BBC Sound Archives, one of Shakespeare’s most famous and memorable speeches, with Paul Scofield and Peggy Ashcroft as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, bringing these ominous words vividly to life.

Macbeth – Act II, Scene II
‘Is this a dagger which I see before me…..’ With Denis Quilley as Macbeth, this recording from the BBC Sound Archives brings Shakespeare’s memorable words to life..

Richard III – Act I, Scene I
‘Now is the winter of our discontent….’ Ian Holm delivers King Richard IIIs soliloquy, bringing Shakespeare’s wonderful lines, full of pyschological insight, vividly to life.

The Merchant Of Venice – Act IV, Scene I
‘The quality of mercy is not strained….’ In this recording from the BBC Sound Archives, Hannah Gordon is Shakespeare’s wise Portia.

Download and listen to William Shakespeare’s most famous speeches now

Shakespeare Plays April 17, 2008

Posted by audiobooksnow in Classic Literature, Dramatizations, Shakespeare.
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No one would argue that William Shakespeare is the most performed playwright in the world. Shakespeare plays are the cornerstone of the school curriculum in English Literature studies and they have been translated into almost every language. They have been adapted as television series and movies, attracting a younger generation to the text. Some plays have been updated to modern times and modern locations. A famous example is the musical West Side Story, adapted from Romeo and Juliet. The stage productions are mostly performed in the traditional way but some interpretations have been experimental, expressing the vision of the director.

 

Shakespeare was equally adept at writing tragedy and comedy. Tragedies such as Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet and King Lear are powerful tales of betrayal, murder and the quest for power. One of the most poplar comedies is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which also involves a fantasy plot and romance. The long list of Shakespeare plays also include historical themes and royal leaders, such as King Richard III, Henry IV and King John.

 

The plays were performed at the Globe Theatre in London and in Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford on Avon. A large tourist industry revolves around the locations associated with Shakespeare and his family. The early printed texts are also prized, especially the first published volume of 36 plays known as the First Folio. Copies of this are very valuable, one of which is on public display in the British Library in London.

 

Scholars pore over the texts, analyzing sources and plot lines. There are those that dispute the authorship of some or all of the Shakespeare plays but they are in the minority. Of this group, most of them cite the real authors as either Francis Bacon or Christopher Marlowe. These claims are not taken seriously by the majority of experts.

 

Movie versions of the plays date back to the silent era and there have been many memorable performances. Actors tackling the Bard have included Lawrence Olivier, Marlon Brando, Richard Burton and Kenneth Brannagh. One of the most popular adaptations of recent times is Romeo and Juliet, starring Leonardo di Caprio and Clare Danes. The direction is fast paced and takes place in a contemporary setting but the script remains faithful to the text and to the spirit of the story.

 

It is inconceivable to think of a time when Shakespeare will not be performed in some form. Schoolchildren sometimes struggle with the text, which is why it is so important to keep the plays alive in stage and film productions. Shakespeare plays are like Mount Everest to every actor and will always remain so.

On audio for download

William Shakespear’s – The Merchant of Venice

BBC radio has a unique heritage when it comes to Shakespeare. Since 1923, when the newly formed company broadcast its first full-length play, generations of actors and producers have honed and perfected the craft of making Shakespeare to be heard.

Love, bigotry, greed and justice are entwined in this clear, fast-moving production, where the precision of radio gives added resonance to the powerful words of the trial scene.

The play is introduced by Richard Eyre, former Director of the Royal National Theatre, and the accompanying booklet includes a scene-by-scene synopsis, full character analysis, brief biographies of the leading actors and of Shakespeare himself, as well as an essay from the producer on their interpretation of the play.

Revitalised, original and comprehensive, this is Shakespeare for the new millennium.

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William Shakespeare

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Romeo and Juliet – by William Shakespeare April 3, 2008

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Romeo and Juliet is the play which, in English literature at least, effectively invented the modern love story. Its charm and its power derive from the romantic setting (Verona, an Italian Renaissance city), the youthful innocence and ardour of the lovers, and (perhaps crucially) the excitement and drama created by the opposition which they have to contend with, an opposition which does not simply stem from the older generation but which is starkly present in the feud between their two families and which seems to be supported by the malignity of Fate. The richly realized context of their love is additionally enhanced by (for example) the superbly concrete character of Juliet’s old Nurse, who fondly encourages the pair until the ‘better’ offer of Paris’s love comes along. The Nurse’s sentimentality and materialism are all too convincing, and are symptomatic of the way in which Shakespeare suggests that none of the other characters can match the lovers for sincerity and steadfastness, especially once the brilliant and impulsive Mercutio has gone. Youthful as they are, we see that they are the people who grow and mature as the play progresses: Romeo, as sensitive and intelligent as the later Hamlet, realises that his ‘love’ for Rosaline is no such thing but merely infatuation: however instant the development of his love for Juliet may be, it is ‘the real thing’, as is Juliet’s for him. The imagery of light and religion which Shakespeare consistently bestows upon the lovers is suggestive of the truth and value of their feelings: at the masked ball where they first meet, Romeo’s immediate reaction to Juliet is that ‘she doth teach the torches to burn bright’, and their first words to each other are all built on the conceit that he is a ‘pilgrim’ and she a ‘saint’.

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