William Shakespeare is arguably one of the most popular and enduring writers in Western literary history. His plays and sonnets continue to be read and studied in our present day. With this fame and continued presence in the curriculum has come trepidation among students and teachers. Shakespeare is often placed in the ‘too hard’ pile when readers are thrown in the deep end without pre-reading and contextual study being utilised. On April 23rd, break the stigma associated with the Bard and celebrate Shakespeare Day by bringing his comedies, tragedies and histories to life in the classroom!
Below are six outstanding videos available on the ClickView Exchange that explore the man, the texts and the productions. While some provide historical and contextual insights, others are wonderful starting points for students and teachers beginning a study of Shakespeare’s greatest works. They are excellent resources for starting conversations in the classroom, and will empower students by providing deeper insights and broader understandings of the texts.
Shakespeare Uncovered: David Tennant on Hamlet
Contributed to the ClickView Exchange by Susanna W.
After his highly-acclaimed performance in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2009 production of Hamlet, David Tennant takes on the task of uncovering exactly what the play means, and why it is considered Shakespeare’s greatest theatrical work. Incorporating clips from previous productions made for both the stage and screen provides insight into the innumerable ways Hamlet has been brought to life. Tennant also interviews a number of actors and experts to understand the complexities of the characters and the plot, and the diverse ways in which the play can be interpreted. Watch Shakespeare Uncovered: David Tennant on Hamlet here.
Shakespeare’s First Folio
Contributed to the ClickView Exchange by Catherine C.
In this episode of ‘The Secret Life of Books’, actor Simon Russell Beale explores the First Folio, the original published collection of Shakespeare’s comedies, histories and tragedies. Using The British Library’s archives and scholarly insight, Beale explores the complexities and difficulties associated with this collection, namely the authorship of many of the plays, and the closeness of these works to Shakespeare’s original written transcripts. A useful documentary for a deeper understanding of the Shakespearian context, and an interesting starting point for debate about the textual integrity of the classics. Watch Shakespeare’s First Folio here.
Contributed to the ClickView Exchange by Matthew P.
For the first time ever, the final resting place of William Shakespeare will be investigated. With the tombstone engraved with a curse and seemingly too small for a burial, this spot has been the cause of much controversy. Using modern archaeological techniques, the tomb can now be examined without disturbing the remains, finally explaining the centuries-long debate. The research reveals the manner in which the entire Shakespeare family was buried, and provides plausible hypotheses as to why the grave stone is such a particular shape and size. The programme provides a unique insight into the man and legend, beyond his work as playwright. Watch Shakespeare’s Tomb here.
Contributed to the ClickView Exchange by Rupert D.
One of the most recent productions of a Shakespearean play, Macbeth (2015) retells the tragedy of the Thane of Glamis, who after receiving a prophecy from three witches is determined to become King of Scotland. Filled with ambition and encouraged by his equally determined wife, Macbeth murders the king in order to take the throne. The modern-day production maintains the traditional dialogue, settings and costumes of the play, making it a useful version for side-by-side study with the text. It is also useful for examining text-to-film adaptation. Watch Macbeth here.
Horrible Histories Specials: Sensational Shakespeare
Contributed to the ClickView Exchange by Jamie A.
The Horrible Histories team introduce us to Sensational Shakespeare! In this special episode, learn about Shakespeare’s life and times, from his family to his most famous works. Using its unique sketch format, Horrible Histories provides students with a fast-paced yet highly accessible biography that will prepare them for deeper contextual study. It is the perfect resource for use with younger students, or those engaging with Shakespeare for the first time. Watch Horrible Histories Specials: Sensational Shakespeare here.
How to Be Epic @ Shakespeare
Contributed to the ClickView Exchange by Matthew P.
Ever wanted to become an expert user of Shakespeare? Now you can be! In this How to Be Epic special, marking 400 years since the Bard’s death, learn a range of strategies that will help students understand the plays, techniques, meter and more. Incorporating some of Shakespeare’s best-known quotes, students are immersed in the core texts. Iambic pentameter is made relevant using rap, drama techniques are taught, and a production is put on stage, making it a dynamic programme to engage all students. Watch How to Be Epic @ Shakespeare here.