Shakespeare Hour LIVE!

Shakespeare Hour LIVE!

Join Artistic Director Simon Godwin and Resident Dramaturg Drew Lichtenberg for Shakespeare Hour LIVE!, an ongoing online tour through every corner of the Shakespeare universe. Special guests and friends of the STC extended family will also drop by.

These LIVE conversations take place online on Zoom and require the viewer to have access to the Internet.



Week 16, September 9: Shakespeare & the Law

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In this special partnership with STC’s Bard Association, join some of the sharpest legal minds in Washington (hopefully including some recent stars of STC’s ever-popular Mock Trial) as they discuss Shakespeare’s own theatrical connection to the Inns of Court and the outlines of his legal imagination.

Guest: Abbe Lowell (Winston & Strawn, LLP; Chair, STC Bard Association)



Week 17, September 16: Shakespeare & Film

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From the landmark films of Akira Kurosawa (Throne of Blood, Ran), Orson Welles (Othello, Chimes at Midnight) and Sir Laurence Olivier (Hamlet, Henry V) to more recent adaptations by Kenneth Branagh (Much Ado, As You Like It, Henry V), Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet), Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho), and Julie Taymor (Titus, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Shakespeare’s plays have proven to be a fertile source of cinematic imaginings. Join Julie Taymor and more guests for an in-depth discussion of the process of translating Shakespeare’s language to the most visual of mediums.

Guest: Julie Taymor (Tony Award-winning director, The Lion King; Will Award honoree)



Week 18, September 23: Shakespeare’s Heroines

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Continuing our examination of Shakespeare’s relationship to humor begun with our recent episode on Shakespeare & Clowns, we will examine the female protagonists in his plays, and the respective importance of verbal wit, theatrical imagination, and humane intelligence to be found in his work.

Guests: TBA


Week 19, September 30: Richard II

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In anticipation of the upcoming November election, sure to be one of the most controversial and politically charged of many Americans’ lifetimes, the Shakespeare Hour LIVE! team tackles the most controversial and politically charged of Shakespeare’s plays during his lifetime. Staged by the Earl of Essex as part of an attempted revolutionary coup, the controversial deposition scene was published only in its full form after Shakespeare’s death. Richard II  is his ultimate study of deposition and succession, of the soft-seeming mechanisms through which the state’s hard and violent powers have often changed hands.

Guests: TBA

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Week 15, July 29: Shakespeare & Politics

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Though Shakespeare lived under an absolutist monarchy very different from our modern republican system of government, with its bicameral legislature, many have remarked on how frighteningly contemporary and relevant his depiction of politics can be. We will be joined by some of Washington’s finest political minds to examine Shakespeare’s depiction of absolute power, Machiavellian manipulation, and its effect upon the people placed along the political spectrum.

Guests: Maureen Dowd (New York Times columnist, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist); Harry Lennix (NBC’s The Blacklist, Man of Steel); and Tina Packer (Founding Artistic Director of Shakespeare & Company, author of Power Plays: Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership & Management, Tales From Shakespeare, and Women of Will)

Episode 15 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Betsy and Ed Cohen and The Mather.

Week 14, July 22: Shakespeare & Opera

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From the late 17th-century works of Purcell during the English Restoration, to the work of later masters such as Rossini, Verdi, Purcell, Smetana, Gounod, Berlioz, Wagner, and twenty-first century works by Jeremy Sams and Thomas Adès, there is a long and distinguished history of operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays. Join us for what promises to be a fascinating conversation about Shakespeare’s influence on the worlds of operatic and classical music.

Guests: Anne Midgette (former chief classical music critic at The Washington Post); Russell Thomas (Internationally-recognized, award-winning American operatic tenor); and Francesca Zambello (Director of The Glimmerglass Festival and the Washington National Opera)

Episode 14 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Jeffrey P. Cunard and Mariko Ikehara.

Photo of Francesca Zambello: Claire McAdams/The Glimmerglass Festival


Week 13, July 15: Shakespeare & America

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Since the first recorded performance of Shakespeare in North America in 1730, Shakespeare has been a near-constant presence shaping American identity. We will discuss the when, the how, and the why of Shakespeare in America, surveying the famous Booth family of Shakespearean actors (one of whom was Lincoln’s assassin), the largest riot of the 1800s between fans of different Shakespeare schools, and the extensive links between the regional theater movement and Shakespeare from Tyrone Guthrie to Joseph Papp to the Folger and Michael Kahn.

Guests: Nataki Garrett (Artistic Director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Joseph Haj (Artistic Director of The Guthrie Theater); Hamish Linklater (The Big Short, Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ Henry IV, Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park Twelfth Night); Amrita Ramanan (Director of Literary Development and Dramaturg at Oregon Shakespeare Festival); and Antoinette Robinson (STC’s Twelfth Night, Broadway’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)

Episode 13 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Barbara Fleischman.



Week 12, July 8: Shakespeare & Clowns

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The clowns in Shakespeare’s plays always stand out. We will examine the multiple different types of clown in Shakespeare’s plays with experts from the world of this ancient and popular art, and try to answer the question: Are Shakespeare’s clowns funny?

Guests: Bill Irwin (Tony Award-winning actor, Broadway’s Waiting for Godot, The Public Theater’s King Lear); Dr. Richard McCoy (Distinguished Professor of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center, CUNY; author of Faith in Shakespeare); and Jacob Ming-Trent (HBO’s Watchmen, Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park Twelfth Night, TFANA’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Episode 12 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Nick and Marla Allard.



Week 11, July 1: Shakespeare’s Life

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What was Shakespeare’s background and how did it inform his plays? Topics may include but are not limited to: being the son of a glovemaker, not going to college, moving to London as an actor, becoming a wealthy self-made man and landowner. And yes, we will be most likely discussing the authorship “controversy.”

Guests: Sir Jonathan Bate (Foundation Professor of Environmental Humanities at Arizona State University, Professor of English Literature at University of Oxford, renowned Shakespeare scholar); Anthony Heald (Two-time Tony Award nominated actor, 12 seasons at Oregon Shakespeare Festival); and Dr. Lena Orlin (Professor of English at Georgetown University, former Executive Director of the Folger Institute, former Executive Director of the Shakespeare Association of America)

Episode 11 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Monica Gerard-Sharp.



Week 10, June 24: The Ascent & The Descent

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Play: Richard III

How does Shakespeare dramatize Richard’s ascent to, and descent from, power?

Guests: Chuk Iwuji (Old Vic’s Richard III, Netflix’s When They See Us); Dr. Hester Lees-Jeffries (Fellow, St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge University; author of Shakespeare and Memory); and Gregg Mozgala (Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Classic Stage Company’s Play On Festival Henry VI, Part 3 [Richard, Duke of Gloucester], The Public Theater’s Teenage Dick, Manhattan Theatre Club’s The Cost of Living)

Episode 10 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Barbara Harman and William Cain.



Week 9, June 17: The Outsider & The Insider

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Play: The Merchant of Venice

How does Shakespeare dramatize the figure of the social outsider in this play…and how does he dramatize the characters who are part of the “in-group”?

Guests: F. Murray Abraham (Theatre for a New Audience/National Tour The Merchant of Venice, Academy Award-winning actor, Will Award honoree); Jeffrey Horowitz (Founding Artistic Director of Theatre for a New Audience); and Kate MacCluggage (Theatre for a New Audience/National Tour The Merchant of Venice, Cinemax’s The Knick)

Episode 9 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Carol and Landon Butler.



Week 8, June 10: Love & Hate

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Play: Othello

Looking at the triangular relationship between Othello, Iago, and Desdemona, who displaces whom? How do hatred and love displace one another, and how do the public and domestic spheres get tragically confused?

Guests: Dion Johnstone (STC’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Stratford Festival’s Othello); Liev Schreiber (Showtime’s Ray Donovan, The Public Theater’s Othello); Whitney White (Director, STC’s The Amen Corner, The Movement Theatre Company/American Repertory Theater/Woolly Mammoth’s What to Send Up When It Goes Down)

Episode 8 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Bonnie and Louis Cohen.

Week 7, June 3: Democracy & Empire

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Plays: Julius Caesar and Antony & Cleopatra

How does Shakespeare examine the problems of, respectively, the experiment of self-rule by the people and the extension of one country or people’s sovereignty over others?

Guests: Shirine Babb (STC’s Timon of Athens, Folger Theatre’s Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra); Jordan Barbour (Broadway’s The Inheritance, Theatre for a New Audience’s Julius Caesar); and James Shapiro (Professor of English at Columbia University, award-winning Shakespearean author, Shakespeare Scholar-in-Residence at The Public Theater)

Episode 7 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Sandy and Jon Willen.



Week 6, May 27: Identity & Ambiguity

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Plays: Twelfth Night and As You Like It

How does Shakespeare explore the mysteries of gender identity and sexuality in these two plays?

Guests: Francesca Faridany (Strange Interlude, As You Like It); Michael Urie (Hamlet, Buyer & Cellar); and Michael Witmore (Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, scholar of Shakespeare and early modern literature, pioneer in the digital analysis of Shakespeare’s texts)

Episode 6 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Eden Rafshoon.



Week 5, May 20: Virtue & Vice

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Read Sam Waterston’s remarks

Plays: Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2

How does Shakespeare dramatize the conflict between good and evil in the battle for the soul of Prince Hal, the future Henry V…and why do the virtuous characters seem so much less fun than the vice-field ones?

Guests: Kelley Curran (The Oresteia, Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2); Stephen Greenblatt (Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, and General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and The Norton Shakespeare); and Sam Waterston (Law & Order, acclaimed actor, producer, and director, and Will Award honoree)

Episode 5 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Carolyn L. Wheeler.



Week 4, May 13: Hope & Rebirth

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Plays: The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest

We continue 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.

Guests: Peter Marks (chief theatre critic, The Washington Post); STC Affiliated Artist Patrick Page (OthelloThe Tempest); and STC Affiliated Artist Rebecca Taichman (Tony Award-winning director; STC’s The Winter’s Tale, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew)

Episode 4 of Shakespeare Hour LIVE! is generously sponsored by Mary Cole.



Week 3, May 6: Age & Ambition

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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?

Guests: STC Affiliated Artists Helen Carey (The Oresteia, Macbeth) and Stacy Keach (King Lear, Richard III)



Week 2, April 29: Ghosts & the Law

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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.

Guests: Cara Ricketts (Richard III, Simon Godwin’s Measure for Measure at Theatre for a New Audience) and Jonathan Cake (Simon Godwin’s Measure for Measure at Theatre for a New Audience, Showtime’s The Affair, ABC’s Desperate Housewives)



Week 1, April 22: Romance & Magic

Plays: Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Simon and Drew 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)





All Special Guests are subject to change.