Friday, January 25 at 9:00 and 10:00 p.m.
Six episodes over the next three Fridays combine history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis and the personal passion of its celebrated hosts — Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Irons, Derek Jacobi, Trevor Nunn, Joely Richardson and David Tennant — to tell the behind the stories of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.
In the first hour, join Ethan Hawke in his quest to play Shakespeare’s murderous Thane of Cawdor. Historian Justin Champion visits the actual Scottish sites of the story on Hawke’s behalf, introducing him to Dunsinane where Macbeth supposedly lived.
Immersing himself in some of the most memorable and innovative productions of “the Scottish Play,” Hawke gleans extraordinary insights into Shakespeare’s understanding of the criminal mind. Lady Macbeth’s relationship to the titular Thane is a critical role in the play and is examined by observing Shakespeare’s Globe actors rehearsing and performing scenes from the play, as well as by revisiting recent productions starring Patrick Stewart and Antony Sher.
Then at 10:00 p.m., Joely Richardson investigates (with her mother Vanessa Redgrave) the legacy of "As You Like It" and "Twelfth Night" -- two brilliant cross-dressing comedies and the great comic and romantic heroines created by Shakespeare.
Richardson investigates the comic and dramatic potential of female roles written for male actors to play. At the same time, she demonstrates that Shakespeare revealed an acute understanding and sympathy for women when he wrote these characters. Redgrave’s portrayal of Rosalind in As You Like It made her a star in England and soon after, all over the world.
Pictured: The Globe Theatre in London. Credit: Richard Pohle/Rex Features.
At right: Ethan Hawke.