KUED continues its series of renowned actors providing insights in their Shakespeare roles as Shakespeare Uncovered continues on Friday nights.
Richard II With Derek Jacobi
KUED on Friday, February 1, 8:00 pm.
In returning to the role of a deposed monarch whose crown is taken from him, Derek Jacobi takes a 360-degree view of this great political thriller whose title character he played more than 30 years ago. Jacobi shares insights on the play’s political twists – and their modern equivalents – that have kept Richard II resonant for centuries through its understanding of power’s tendency to corrupt and distort the truth and how quickly power may be lost. While coaching actors at Shakespeare’s Globe, Jacobi describes how the play was used by the Earl of Essex in his attempted coup against Queen Elizabeth I and persuaded Shakespeare’s own company to stage it to encourage the Earl’s “plotters.” Jacobi reveals how the plot nearly cost Shakespeare his life. Also featured are notable excerpts from the upcoming Great Performances film adaptation starring Ben Whishaw and Patrick Stewart.
Henry IV & Henry V With Jeremy Irons
Friday, February 1, 9:00 p.m.
Jeremy Irons uncovers the enduring appeal of Shakespeare’s most iconic “history plays,” from the true English history embedded in the works to the father-son drama that Shakespeare created. In disclosing Shakespeare’s sources – and steps the playwright took to distort them – Irons uncovers the historical truths behind the story and how they inspired some of Shakespeare’s most famous monologues. On a journey to the battlefield at Agincourt in northern France, the climactic location of these plays, it’s revealed how the Bard was more subversive and less patriotic than his ardent admirers often think. Irons also invites viewers behind the scenes at the filming of key sequences in the new Great Performances adaptation starring Irons himself as the father-king, Henry IV, and Tom Huddleston as his son, Prince Hal, who becomes Henry V.
Hamlet With David Tennant
Friday, February 8, 8:00 p.m.
An acclaimed Hamlet in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s hit production (also a recent Great Performances production), David Tennant meets fellow actors who’ve tackled this most iconic of roles, including superstar Jude Law, and compares notes on the role’s titanic challenges. Tennant digs deep into the text about the doomed Danish Prince alongside actors Simon Russell Beale and Ben Whishaw. With them, he works to plumb the deeper meanings of the play and the reason it is widely considered the greatest in Shakespeare’s canon. The historical sources and religious wars, existential questions of the meaning of life and death, the idea that ghosts exist and may speak – all these and a searing personal drama, too – comprise this Everest of a play. Tennant also finds that many actors who have played Hamlet share an experience that is deeply and profoundly personal. This is also, perhaps, the reason audiences feel the play touches them more than any other before or since.
The Tempest With Trevor Nunn
Friday, February 8, 9:00 p.m.
Trevor Nunn, the legendary director who has helmed 30 of Shakespeare’s 37 plays – and aims to complete them all before he retires – takes us through the magical and mysterious world created in the playwright’s last complete work. Nunn considers The Tempest Shakespeare’s farewell from the stage and explores the biographical nature of the play and its connection to the playwright’s often troubled family life. He also explores the stagecraft – the fact that The Tempest is a play of special effects, apparitions and magic. Ideas about the lead role of Prospero were contributed by some of The Tempest’s most famous and enthusiastic fans, including Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren and acclaimed film and theatre director Julie Taymor, who recently directed a film adaptation featuring Mirren in the lead role recast as a female named Prospera.
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