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Brush Up Your Shakespeare

Start Quoting Him Now…

Or at least take his 450th birthday as a chance to learn more about his life, his work, and some of the many people he inspired – in good, bad and bloody ways:

And check out our Childrens Librarians’ post on Five Great Books for Introducing Kids to Shakespeare, too.


how to read and understand shakespeareHow to Read and Understand Shakespeare
audio lecture by professor Marc C. Conner

Build the skills to deeply comprehend Shakespeares transcendent poetic language, the spellbinding world of his great characters and stories, and his revelatory reflections on human experience.

Kiss Me Kate
DVD [1953]

In this film based on the play by Samuel and Bella Spewack, two squabbling, mid-20th-century ex-marrieds are cast as squabbling Renaissance romantics in a musical version of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” The stars fight it out on stage and off, and two mob goons sing about wooing women with Shakespeare.



The Most  Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet: A Play by William Shakespeare
adapted and illustrated by Gareth Hinds

There are many excellent adaptations of R&J, but this is one of the most effective in translating the story for teens. Hinds makes the characters of African, Indian, and Caucasian descent in order to promote the universality of the story. The language is abridged but not adapted into contemporary English; footnotes explain words that could be confusing to young audiences. The use of lines and colorful watercolors is striking, especially when illustrating action such as dancing and sword fights.



shakespeare and the american musicalShakespeare and the American Musical
by Irene G. Dash

Dash argues that adaptations of Shakespeare were instrumental in the alteration of the musical theater formula from the stock plots and song forms of the 1930s musical comedy to the more organic “integrated musical,” where songs and dance sequences were used to advance the plot rather than break the action, as seen in “The Boys from Syracuse,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “West Side Story” and others.



The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)
DVD [2003]

The three-man troupe perform all of Shakespeare’s plays in 90 comedic minutes. Forwards and backwards! Seriously funny.




The Shakespeare Thefts: In Search of the First Folios
by Eric Rasmussen

Rasmussen and his team of researchers were part of the global quest to catalog every extant copy of the 1623 First Folio. The team’s mission: to examine every surviving copy, and to track down the missing ones. Researchers study one with a bullet encased inside, attempt to determine whether blood or red paint stains another, document murders most foul, and explore the “dead within two years” fate that has befallen many folio owners.



Kill Shakespeare
by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col; art by Andy Belanger

When Hamlet’s ship is attacked by pirates, he escapes and is found by Richard III, who tells him that he is the one prophesied to free Richard’s people from the tyranny of the wizard (or perhaps god) called William Shakespeare. But Hamlet soon discovers that another faction, led by the rebel Juliet and her lieutenant Othello, worships Shakespeare and believes that the chosen one will bring Shakespeare out of seclusion to reinvigorate the land.



Shakespeare Uncovered
DVD [2013]

Six episodes combine history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis, and the personal passion of their celebrated hosts (Ethan Hawke, Jeremy Irons, Derek Jacobi, Trevor Nunn, Joely Richardson, and David Tennant) to tell the story behind the stories of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.




Loving Will Shakespeare
by Carolyn Meyer

In Stratford-upon-Avon in the sixteenth century, Anne Hathaway suffers her stepmother’s cruelty and yearns for love and escape, finally finding it in the arms of a boy she has grown up with, William Shakespeare.




Shakespeare Wallah
DVD [1965]

The real-life adventures of a traveling theater group in India during the final days of English colonial rule. They try to uphold British tradition by staging Shakespearean plays but can’t compete with the wildly popular Bollywood film industry.



The Boy Who Would Be Shakespeare: A Tale of Forgery and Folly
by Doug Stewart

William-Henry Ireland earned his footnote in literary history in the 1790s by crafting a series of forged letters, documents, and manuscripts all by or about William Shakespeare. In doing so he fooled many of England’s literary and other notables at a a time when literacy was rising in England, the gossip-filled newspaper business was booming, and the country was hungry for any artifact connected to the Bard.



Julie Taymor: Playing with Fire
by Eileen Blumenthal and Julie Taymor

Surveys Taymor’s innovative work using puppetry, masks, and dance movement in her theater, opera and film productions including “The Tempest,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Titus Andronicus.”



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