Henry V – The Play, The Myth, The Legend

Henry V: one of the most patriotic characters and plays in all of literature, surely? Not so, says Sheldrake. Henry V and his world are thoroughly morally ambiguous.

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Henry IV Part 2 – Learning to Play

How did people learn to act in the Renaissance? Did the texts themselves co-operate in teaching newish actors how to do certain things? Sheldrake thinks so.

Short SoS – The Folger Institute

Amongst the Palladian architecture of Washington DC there lies a grey stone block, the Folger Institute. Its vaults house the largest single collection of Shakespeare First Folios anywhere in the world and it is a hub of scholarly activity. After a recent holiday to Washington, Sheldrake talks you through it.

Also available on iTunes: http://tinyurl.com/ndhzfxm

Henry IV, Part 1 – History and Personality

What to say about Henry IV Part 1? In the first of three main episodes, each of which will tackle one play in this Henriad, Sheldrake explores a play about history and personality, focussing on Prince Henry and his rival for glory Harry Hotspur.

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Short SoS – Teaching Shakespeare

He claims no monopoly on wisdom in this area, but as an academic year draws to a close and the long vacation heaves into view, Sheldrake reflects on his experiences of teaching Shakespeare.

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Troilus and Cressida – Shakespeare’s Ugliest Play

We associate Shakespeare with humanity, warmth, generosity and kindness when he writes about people who have made a wrong decision. Even Richard III at the beginning of his play tells us what a dreadful life he’s had until now. Troilus and Cressida is different. Shakespeare is merciless with his characters and shows the Trojan War as a perverse catastrophe for everyone unlucky enough to be caught up in it. From the scheming warriors at the top to those suffering at the bottom, Shakespeare shows us two civilisations, Greece and Troy, buckling under their own weight.

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Short SoS -Shakespeare and Evil

Thanks to a couple of nearby anniversaries, we are hearing more than ever not only what great theatre Shakespeare is, but also what a positive influence he is. By and large, this is true. But the commemorative coin has another side, which is Shakespeare’s repeated mobilisation by fascists, racists and regimes we despise. Firstly, this is a story worth telling. Secondly, what does it mean for the plays today? Ahead of a talk on the subject in Oxford on 11th May, Sheldrake thinks aloud.

Also available on iTunes: http://tinyurl.com/ndhzfxm