The Shakespeare Sessions
The Shakespeare Sessions
BBC Radio 3
Your one-stop shop for all things Shakespeare. Catch A-List casts in brand new versions of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, plus documentaries from the brightest minds.
Who is Falstaff?
Toby Jones on playing the boisterous and fun-loving knight Falstaff. Toby Jones stars as Falstaff in our full-length version of Henry IV Part 1, which you can find in your podcast feed.
Apr 26
2 min
Full Length Play: Henry IV Part 1
Rebellion is brewing in Britain. King Henry must reunite his country but how when even his own family is divided? As Henry's rule is threatened his son Hal appears unconcerned, wasting his time in the company of the comically corrupt Falstaff and common thieves, apparently more interested in play than the politics of state. Yet what kind of leadership is needed to unite the country might well be found in the taverns of Eastcheap as within the Palace of Westminster. King Henry ..... Iain Glen Falstaff ..... Toby Jones Hal ..... Luke Thompson Hotspur ..... Tom Glynn-Carney Worcester .....Mark Bonnar Lady Percy .....Natalie Simpson Glendower ..... Steffan Rhodri Lady Mortimer ..... Bettrys Jones Westmoreland ..... Roger Ringrose Northumberland/Douglas ..... John Dougall Bardolph/ Sir Walter Blunt ..... John Lightbody Peto/Sherriff/Vernon ..... Sargon Yelda John/Mortimer ..... Chris Lew Kum Hoi Poins/Messenger ..... Hasan Dixon Mistress Quickly ..... Elizabeth Counsell Written by William Shakespeare Music composed by John Nicholls. Adapted and directed by Sally Avens.
Apr 26
1 hr 57 min
Full Length Play: Othello
Khalid Abdalla, Matthew Needham and Cassie Layton star in Shakespeare's tragedy. This version is staged in an imagined near future, in which a power-hungry Turkish president attempts an attack on Cyprus. The western forces rush to Cyprus' defence, under the command of the fearless General Othello. But can an Arab-born, Christian convert ever be truly accepted by the people he serves? Adapted and directed for radio by Emma Harding You can listen to Dr Islam Issa giving us a quick rundown of events in the 1600s that influenced the character of Othello, in your podcast feed. And don't forget to check out Looking for the Moor, also in your podcast feed, which sees Hugh Quarshie explore Othello and ask if the play is racist. Cast Othello.....Khalid Abdalla Iago.....Matthew Needham Desdemona.....Cassie Layton Cassio.....Max Bennett Brabantio.....Neil McCaul Roderigo.....Clive Hayward Duke of Venice.....Jessica Turner Montano.....Peter Polycarpou Emilia.....Bettrys Jones Lodovico.....Ian Conningham Bianca.....Heather Craney All other parts played by Sargon Yelda and Hasan Dixon
Apr 21
2 hr 1 min
Othello: What it means to be a Moor
Dr Islam Issa, Senior Lecturer at Birmingham City University, gives us a rundown of events in the 1600s that influenced the character of Othello. You can listen to our full-length version of Othello, set in an imagined near future, in your podcast feed.
Apr 21
4 min
Full Length Play: The Two Noble Kinsmen
The Two Noble Kinsmen is one of Shakespeare's least-performed plays, and widely considered to be his last. Generally accepted to be co-written with John Fletcher, this Jacobean tragicomedy has its roots in Chaucer's The Knight's Tale. This audio version shares the same cast with The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare's first play) which you can listen to in the Shakespeare Sessions feed. This striking audio realisation is recorded entirely on location to give the sense of a strolling company, making the most of the countryside. Listen to both plays, and trace the bard's progression across 40 years. The Plot On the day planned for his wedding to Hippolyta, Duke Theseus of Athens is petitioned by three queens to go to war against King Creon of Thebes, who has deprived their dead husbands of proper burial rites. In Thebes, the 'two noble kinsmen', Palamon and Arcite, realize that their own hatred of Creon's tyranny must be put aside while their native city is in danger, but in spite of their valour in battle it is Theseus who is victorious. Imprisoned in Athens, the cousins catch sight of Hippolyta's sister, Emilia, and both fall instantly in love with her. Arcite is set free, but disguises himself rather than return to Thebes, while Palamon escapes with the help of the Jailer's Daughter, who loves him. Meeting each other, the kinsmen agree that mortal combat between them must decide the issue, but they are discovered by Theseus who is persuaded to revoke his sentence of death and instead decrees that a tournament shall decide which cousin is to be married to the indecisive Emilia and which is to lose his head. The Jailer's Daughter has been driven mad by unrequited love, but accepts her former suitor when he pretends to be Palamon. Before the tournament Arcite makes a lengthy invocation to Mars, while Palamon prays to Venus and Emilia to Diana – for victory to go to the one who loves her best. Although Arcite triumphs, he is thrown from his horse before the death sentence on Palamon can be carried out, and with his last breath bequeaths Emilia to his friend. JAILER'S DAUGHTER ..... Lyndsey Marshal EMILIA ..... Kate Phillips PALAMON ..... Blake Ritson ARCITE ..... Nikesh Patel THESEUS ..... Ray Fearon HIPPOLYTA ..... Emma Fielding JAILER ..... Hugh Ross PIRITHIOUS ..... Daniel Ryan WOOER ..... Oliver Chris QUEEN 1 ..... Susan Salmon QUEEN 2 ..... Sara Markland QUEEN 3/DOCTOR ..... Jane Whittenshaw COUNTRYMAN 1/FRIEND ..... Sam Dale ARTESIUS/COUNTRYMAN 2 ..... Carl Prekopp COUNTRYMAN 3/BROTHER ..... Pip Donaghy Adapted for Radio by Sara Davies Directed by Celia de Wolff A Pier Production for BBC Radio 3 Music composed and performed by Tom Glenister and sung by Emma Mackey and Tom Glenister
May 22, 2019
1 hr 52 min
Full Length Play: The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Two Gentlemen of Verona is considered to be one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays and is paired next week with a production of The Two Noble Kinsmen which was his last play and widely considered to have been written with the up and coming writer John Fletcher. Director Celia De Wolff was keen to present the two plays together as they share common themes of men and women falling for the same lover, cunning disguises and betrayal within friendships. She has recorded both productions entirely on location in the Sussex Countryside with the same band of actors giving a sense that they are being presented by a group of strolling players. The Plot Two young men, Valentine and Proteus, make their way from Verona to Milan. Valentine's father is sending him to take a position in the Duke of Milan's court, and Proteus accompanies him reluctantly, not wanting to leave his beloved Julia. While in Milan, Valentine falls for the Duke's daughter, Silvia.. Silvia is betrothed to Thurio, a wealthy courtier, although Silvia prefers Valentine. The two decide to elope, and Valentine confides in Proteus; Proteus, however, has fallen in love himself with Silvia. In order to get Valentine out of the way, Proteus tells the Duke of Valentine’s feelings and he is banished and Silvia is sent to a jail, and Proteus becomes the Duke’s confidante in matters concerning Thurio and Silvia. Valentine joins a band of outlaws and is elected their leader. Julia disguised as a boy page enters Milan in search of Proteus, who is trying unsuccessfully to woo Silvia on the sly. Silvia, on the other hand, still longs for Valentine, and cares nothing for Proteus or Thurio. Julia, ironically now in service as a page to Proteus, becomes an intermediary between Proteus and Silvia. Silvia finally tires of the situation and escapes Milan in search of Valentine. As fate would have it, Silvia is captured by Valentine's band of outlaws. The Duke soon learns of Silvia's escape, and he, Proteus, and Thurio all set off to rescue her. Proteus finds Silvia before the outlaws can bring her to Valentine. Valentine encounters them as Proteus makes the case for his love to Silvia; the two confront and eventually make peace with each other. In a gesture of reconciliation, Valentine even offers Silvia to Proteus, which causes Julia (who is still disguised as the page) to faint and Proteus recognizes her, much to his shame. The Duke and Thurio arrive but Thurio backs off his claim to Silvia when challenged by Valentine. As the play ends, Valentine gets Silvia with the Duke's approval, Proteus and Julia are reconciled, and the Duke grants a pardon to the band of outlaws. JULIA ..... Lyndsey Marshal SILVIA ..... Kate Phillips PROTEUS ..... Blake Ritson VALENTINE ..... Nikesh Patel SPEED ..... Ray Fearon LUCETTA ..... Emma Fielding DUKE ..... Hugh Ross PANTHINO .....Daniel Ryan THURIO ..... Oliver Chris HOST ..... Sara Markland LAUNCE ..... Sam Dale EGLAMOUR ..... Carl Prekopp ANTONIO ..... Pip Donaghy Written by William Shakespeare Adapted for Radio by Sara Davies Sound design by David Thomas Directed by Celia de Wolff A Pier Production for BBC Radio 3, recorded on location in the Sussex Countryside.
May 15, 2019
1 hr 42 min
Coriolanus: A tragic hero
A whistle-stop tour through Ancient Rome with writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes.
May 9, 2019
4 min
Full Length Play: Coriolanus
Shakespeare's penetrating portrayal of political turmoil in a society at war with itself. The Plot There's widespread famine in Rome, which is causing tension between the common people and the patricians (the aristocrats). The people particularly hate Caius Martius, the arrogant son of Volumnia, and the feeling is mutual. The citizens think the patricians are hoarding corn for themselves. They rise up, and are given two people's representatives (tribunes) who will sit in the Senate. The unrest is halted by war with neighbouring Volscians. In the battle of Corioli, Caius Martius leads the army to victory and is honoured with the name Coriolanus. When they get back to Rome, the patricians insist Coriolanus gains the consulship (the highest elected office). To do this, he has to make a public display of humility in front of the citizens, which he attempts, but is unable to mask his contempt for them. The citizens banish Coriolanus from Rome. In revenge, Coriolanus joins with his former enemies, the Volscians, and they march on Rome. It is only through the intervention of Coriolanus's wife, mother and son that he halts the attack. Peace returns, but Coriolanus is killed by the Volscians. Coriolanus . . . Trystan Gravelle Volumnia . . . Diana Rigg Menenius . . . James Fleet Cominius . . . Paul Hilton Sicinius . . . Tony Turner Brutus . . . Joel MacCormack Lartius . . . David Hounslow Aufidius . . . Ray Fearon Virgilia . . . Clare Corbett Valeria . . . Susan Jameson Gentlewoman . . . Franchi Webb with Michael Bertenshaw, Kenny Blyth, Joseph Ayre and Christopher Harper Directed by Marc Beeby Originally aired on BBC Radio 3.
May 9, 2019
2 hr 27 min
Full Length Play: Julius Caesar
The original political thriller that re-imagines Brutus's betrayal of Caesar. Caesar - Tim Pigott-Smith Brutus, - Robert Glenister Cassius - Sam Troughton Mark Antony - Jamie Parker Casca - Philip Fox Portia - Fenella Woolgar Octavius - Wilf Scolding Calpurnia - Jessica Turner Lucius - Adam Thomas Wright Other parts were played by Sam Dale Neet Mohan David Acton Stephen Critchlow David Hounslow Chris Pavlo Mark Edel Hunt Produced by Marc Beeby
Jul 29, 2018
2 hr 9 min
Exit Burbage
Imagine where we'd be without Shakespeare's plays. It's difficult to contemplate now. But it was thanks to another man that many of them were brought to life. Today, Richard Burbage is a not a household name. But he should be. He's the man for whom many of the great Shakespearean roles were created. One of the founding members of the Lord Chamberlain's Men, playing at the newly built Globe in 1599, he's one of the foundations upon which British theatre was built. Andrew Dickson talks to leading actors, rummages among the archives and dissects some of the greatest parts in acting to discover Burbage's crucial role - and realises that without Richard Burbage, there could be no Shakespeare. Producer: Penny Murphy
Jul 22, 2018
44 min
Load more