The Shakespeare Hour
Join Artistic Director Simon Godwin and Resident Dramaturg Drew Lichtenberg for The Shakespeare Hour, a month-long online tour through every corner of the Shakespeare universe. Each week, Drew and Simon will examine the world of Shakespeare and our own by discussing two plays from the Shakespearean canon which speak to each other thematically, dramaturgically, and historically. Special guests and friends of the STC extended family will also drop by.
In Shakespeare’s lifetime, the theaters were closed periodically due to plague outbreaks. Our first three sessions discuss plays written during or just after a few of these closures, which correspond closely to leaps in Shakespeare’s craft and a series of masterpieces.
These live conversations will take place online through Fuze and require the viewer to have access to the Internet. Access links will be shared with ticket holders.
Week 1, April 22: Romance & Magic
Plays: Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Drew and Simon discuss Shakespeare’s two early masterpieces and why they remain such popular and beloved works. As a new member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Shakespeare helps change our understanding of tragedy and comedy, teenage identity, and the magical experience of nature. Also discussed: Shakespeare’s “lyric” period, what makes these works different from what came before, Simon’s thoughts on directing Romeo and Juliet for the National Theatre.
Guest: Finn Wittrock (STC’s Romeo and Juliet, FX’s American Horror Story)
Week 2, April 29: Ghosts & the Law
Plays: Hamlet and Measure for Measure
In 1596, Shakespeare’s son Hamnet dies from the plague. A few years later, his father dies. In 1603, James Stuart becomes King James I of England. We discuss Hamlet, the “poem unlimited” and an endlessly fascinating study of grief and spirituality with its twin in Measure for Measure, a problem comedy that explores the ambiguities and mysteries of authoritarian leadership, the human being’s relationship to the law, and the law’s relationship to all of us.
Week 3, May 6: Age & Ambition
Plays: King Lear and Macbeth
As a well-decorated member of the King’s Men and a land-owner in his native Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare is settling into a lucrative and decorated middle age. What possesses him to write, in the “Year of Lear,” such plays as King Lear and Macbeth, which rank among the greatest of achievements in world drama? And what do these plays tell us about today?
Week 4, May 13: Hope & Rebirth
Plays: The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest
We end with two plays from the end of Shakespeare’s career, which introduce us to a new genre: the Shakespearean Romance. These two plays have almost opposite dramaturgies—The Winter’s Tale traversing wide gaps in space and time while The Tempest has an almost Aristotelian economy. But they share a deep kinship as pictures of Shakespeare’s thinking at his most personal, lyric, and magical, in some ways returning to the inspiration of his earlier “magic” and “romantic” plays while in others reflecting over every aspect of his life and career.
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