Revisit the top five Shakespeare Unlimited podcast episodes of 2018

The Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home to The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park
The Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home to The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park

We covered many topics on our podcast Shakespeare Unlimited this year, from how to behave badly in Elizabethan England, to the story of Joe Papp and Shakespeare in the Park to a conversation with avant-garde director Peter Sellars and scholar Ayanna Thompson. Here are our top five Shakespeare Unlimited podcast episodes from 2018, ranked by number of listens:

1. Stephen Greenblatt on Shakespeare’s tyrants

Our 100th episode featured scholar and author Stephen Greenblatt, a returning guest to Shakespeare Unlimited, who talked about his recent book Tyrant. In it, Greenblatt explores how Shakespeare grappled with the idea of tyranny and how it can take over a country, discusses characters like Richard III and Macbeth, and considers the different ways in which Shakespeare depicted tyranny in his works.

2. Derek Jacobi: Playing Hamlet | Derek Jacobi: Acting Shakespeare

The second spot on our list is shared by two different episodes, each drawn from our interview with renowned British actor Derek Jacobi.  Jacobi talks about his lifetime of acting Shakespearean roles and, in particular, about how to play Hamlet, the role for which he is best known. Beginning at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1957, Jacobi has acted the role of Hamlet on stage nearly 400 times.

3. Orson Welles and Shakespeare

Once one of the biggest celebrities in America, actor and director Orson Welles may be best remembered today for his radio version of War of the Worlds, his classic movie Citizen Kane, and his later commercial endorsements. We talked with scholar Michael Anderegg, author of Orson Welles, Shakespeare, and Popular Culture, about Welles’s abiding interest in Shakespeare throughout his life. He produced and starred in Shakespeare plays on Broadway and directed and starred in multiple versions of Shakespeare’s work on film, including Chimes at Midnight.

4. Elizabeth Norton: The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women

What did everyday life look like for women throughout Tudor society? A social history, Elizabeth Norton’s The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women introduces us not only to the restrictions, but also to some of the surprising freedoms that touched these women’s lives. Hear her stories of remarkable women who owned businesses, stood up to kings, and lived independently.

5. Imagining Shakespeare’s Wife

The pregnancy. The children. The “second best bed,” which was left to her in Shakespeare’s will. We know so little about Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, but that hasn’t stopped us from speculating about her for centuries, and reshaping and reinterpreting our image of her to suit our changing views. In this episode, we talk with Katherine West Scheil, a professor of English and author of Imagining Shakespeare’s Wife: The Afterlife of Anne Hathaway, about the many, many versions of Anne Hathaway in fiction, biography, and history.


For the first few days of this holiday week, we’re sharing the “top five” items for some of our digital projects in 2018. This post starts off the three-part series with our Shakespeare Unlimited podcast episodes.

What were your favorite Shakespeare Unlimited episodes from 2018? Is there a particular topic you’d like us to do next? Tell us in the comments.

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