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Shakespeare Plays April 17, 2008

Posted by audiobooksnow in Classic Literature, Dramatizations, Shakespeare.

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.

Written By
William Shakespeare




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