Today, we’re releasing the 100th episode of our podcast, Shakespeare Unlimited. Since 2015, when we kicked things off with an episode about Nelson Mandela and the Robben Island Shakespeare, we’ve met the people who answer letters to Juliet, chatted with rappers (on more than one occasion), explored the complicated intersections of Shakespeare and race, and much, much more.
— Ripe Good Scholar (@RipeGoodScholar) April 4, 2018
To celebrate, we asked the people behind the podcast for a favorite episode or memory from the past few years.
Michael Witmore, Folger Director
“Shakespeare is the great connector, having told stories and written poetry that have inspired so many people in so many different ways. We’re thrilled that Shakespeare Unlimited has reached its 100th episode, and that it continues to connect people with Shakespeare and the Folger.”
Garland Scott, Associate Producer
“I’ve always been an advocate for the Shakespeare in pop culture episodes—William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, Pop Sonnets, the Kill Shakespeare comic books, television shows like Empire and Will. They’re great fun to listen to and really capture Shakespeare’s continuing relevance 400 years later.”
Gail Kern Paster, Editor and Folger Director Emerita
“Once, when I was Director, I went to Richard’s tiny studio to record some introductions for a precursor to the Shakespeare Unlimited series. Sitting there, in his soundproof space lined with soundproofing material, all I could hear was the sound of the cat on the other side of the door scratching to get in and see what fun that was happening inside. It’s a rather different story when you are in the NPR studios with Neva Grant, headphones on, being the one interviewed. Thank God for Richard’s brilliant editing!”
Barbara Bogaev, Host
“I record SU interviews at my usual voice-over studio in Studio City, Los Angeles, and I’m writing this from VoiceTrax West after speaking with Steven Berkoff. When I started here, the owner was the bassist for the band Alice Cooper. Most of the engineers are serious musicians, but the core business is the usual LA fare; commercials, video game and animation character voice-overs, and a few podcasts, including one called That’s So Retrograde, about astrology. My engineers have told me, more than once, Shakespeare Unlimited is by far the most highbrow production they’ve ever worked on. They’re used to actors like George Clooney and Ryan Gosling hanging out in the waiting room, but Derek Jacobi and Antony Sher were eye-opening for them. They say they feel as if they’re getting a masters in Shakespeare by just manning the board every week.”
Esther Ferington, Shakespeare Unlimited Editor
“My favorite episode has to be “The Shakespearean Moons of Uranus”—a planet discovered 165 years after Shakespeare’s death, but whose 27 known moons are nearly all named for characters from the plays. I knew almost nothing about this topic when I suggested it, but Shakespeare Unlimited producer Richard Paul wove together an amazing story that stretched from the 1700s to the 21st century and includes countless voices and interviews. I’m not sure the story of these moons has ever been told this way or in such detail in any format; this was a milestone for the podcast.”
Ben Lauer, Folger Social Media and Communications Assistant
“My all-time favorite episode is probably episode 60, “Why, Here’s a Girl,” which is about early modern girlhood and the girls in Shakespeare’s plays. I would have thought that I knew Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet like the back of my hand, but York University’s Deanne Williams makes them feel completely fresh by re-reading Ophelia and Juliet and examining what Shakespeare’s idea of a “girl” was. Williams puts it best when she says:
“I had these ideas of Juliet, sort of a cultural memory of Juliet, which was very different from what I encountered on Shakespeare’s pages… all the way through we see that she is someone who consistently resists the models that have been provided for her, for how a girl is supposed to act.”
We also heard from some of our beloved listeners. They found our interview with Laura Bates, about teaching Shakespeare in a supermax prison, inspiring. . .
So many good ones! How do I choose just one? And they’re so different.
But one that I found most poignant was the interview with the author of Shakespeare Saved My Life. Seeing how significantly his plays can change people still stays with me.
— Joy (@joy9585) June 25, 2018
CONGRATS ON 100 EPS! Shakespeare in Solitary is the best ep!!!!
— sol (@shakespeep) June 22, 2018
. . . and loved getting to know Orson Welles with Michael Anderegg.
@FolgerLibrary Love the Orson Welles ep of Shakespeare Unlimited!
— Brian Cook (@atskooc) January 24, 2018
They told us where they listen. . .
— Amrita Dhar (@olidhar) June 13, 2018
Honestly, @FolgerLibrary Shakespeare Unlimited podcast is getting serious mileage in my morning commute.
— Elliott Folds (@efolds) October 8, 2017
. . . and who they listen with.
— Emily DaSilva (@emdasilva) July 7, 2017
— Sarah Bastien (@SarahBastien1) May 21, 2018
On episode 100, we talk with eminent Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt about his new book, Tyrant. Take a listen, then tell us what you love about Shakespeare Unlimited with #SHXUnlimited100.
Shakespeare Unlimited is a GREAT podcast. 10/10 should listen
— sol (@shakespeep) April 14, 2018
FYI: Shakespeare Unlimited is a fine podcast. https://t.co/ltwcW9DbeJ
— Darlene (I am not your partisan) Strozut☔️ (@Enstone) July 18, 2017
Listening to @FolgerLibrary 's Shakespeare Unlimited podcast to get me started for a day full of writing! Ep13: When Romeo Was a Woman.
— Nina Romancikova (@NinaRomancikova) August 22, 2017
One of the best things I’ve done over the Christmas period is to catch-up on the @FolgerLibrary’s excellent podcast series ‘Shakespeare Unlimited’ — a vast range of discussions that are always interesting. Check it out: https://t.co/tOhqj86QrX
— Mikey Goodman (@DrMikeyGoodman) December 29, 2017