Film and Television

Films:

  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theater has made films of quite a few of its productions available for rental or purchase.
  • Twelfth Night or What You Will (1996). Trevor Nunn, director.
  • Much Ado About Nothing (1993). Kenneth Branagh, director.
  • The Merchant of Venice (2004). Michael Radford, director (Al Pachino as Shylock).
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935). Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, directors (Mickey Rooney as Puck).
  • Richard III (1995). Richard Loncraine, director (Ian McKellen as Richard III).
  • The Hollow Crown. This series of BBC television film adaptations of the eight history plays from Richard II to Richard III includes such fine actors as Patrick Stewart, Judi Dench, Jeremy Irons, David Suchet, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Still Dreaming. This inspiring 2014 documentary is about a group of retired entertainers living at the Lillian Booth Actors Home outside of Manhattan who set out to stage a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As it chronicles the elderly performers’ efforts to cope with the challenges posed by both ensemble work and also by old age, the film celebrates the gifts that theater—and Shakespeare—can give to people of all ages.
  • Shakespeare Behind Bars. This award-winning documentary is a record of the potentially life-changing work that the Shakespeare Behind Bars program does with incarcerated adults and youth.

Sitcoms:

  • Upstart Crow
    The episodes in Upstart Crow tell the story of Will Shakespeare as an up-and-coming playwright, trying to keep his family happy in Stratford while he writes plays and spars with other dramatists in London. It’s light-hearted—and even goofy—but each episode is crammed with references to Shakespeare’s plays, his times, and theatrical politics, and I think it’s lots of fun. I also like that—for once!—Will’s wife Anne is not portrayed as a shrew, and also that Will’s London landlord’s daughter keeps trying find a way to circumvent the convention that won’t allow women to act onstage.
  • Slings and Arrows
    The Canadian TV series Slings and Arrows is about the members of an acclaimed Shakespeare Festival as they deal with the challenges of putting on a play, getting along with each other, staying true to themselves, and trying to keeping their festival afloat.

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