We covered a lot in our podcast about Shakespeare this year, from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story to Tracy Chevalier’s retelling of Othello to the Globe to Globe Hamlet tour. Here are the top five Shakespeare Unlimited podcast episodes from 2017, ranked by number of listens:
Advances in computer science have enabled scholars to find, with much greater certainty, the fingerprints that we think tell us definitively who wrote which plays and even who wrote which acts within the plays, throwing open the idea that Shakespeare was a solo genius in charge of it all. Folger Director Michael Witmore and Eric Rasmussen discuss the decision by the editors of the New Oxford Shakespeare (published by Oxford University Press) to list Christopher Marlowe as the co-author of the three Henry VI plays.
Starting in the 1930s, people began sending letters asking for advice on love and romance to Verona, Italy—addressed to Juliet. In 2014, a lovelorn Canadian high school teacher traveled to Verona over summer vacation to volunteer as one of “Juliet’s secretaries.” The experience changed his life—and his perspective on Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers. Glenn Dixon shares stories from his 2017 memoir, Juliet’s Answer.
Shakespeare is famous today thanks in no small part to two members of his acting company, John Heminge and Henry Condell, who published a collection of his plays seven years after his death. On this episode, Lauren Gunderson talks about her new play, The Book of Will, which portrays Heminge and Condell, along with their families and everyone involved in gathering and creating the First Folio.
Barry Edelstein, the Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director at The Old Globe in San Diego, is one of the nation’s most experienced Shakespeare directors. Twice a year, The Old Globe holds an event called Thinking Shakespeare Live! – a master class where you get to watch actors act and Edelstein direct – in essence, pulling back the curtain on the rehearsal room. In this podcast episode, Edelstein goes through a very abbreviated version of that master class.
“Is it Shakespeare, or is it hip-hop?” British poet, rapper, and educator Kingslee James Daley, who goes by the stage name Akala, likes to recite a passage and then challenge his audience with this question. Since 2009, under the auspices of his “Hip-hop Shakespeare Company,” Akala has been going to community centers, prisons, and schools in immigrant and underserved communities, using the tools of hip-hop to spread an understanding of the relevance of Shakespeare’s poetry.
What were your favorite Shakespeare Unlimited episodes from 2017? Is there a particular topic you’d like us to do next? Tell us in the comments.