Where to watch Shakespeare in November

In November, the Folger’s theater partners have some great programs coming your way, including performances, play readings, a virtual exhibition, a conference on Shakespeare in prisons, and a series of webinars on producing virtual theater. What are you looking forward to watching this month?

Oil portrait of actor Ira Aldridge in character as Othello
“Ira Aldridge as Othello,” Henry Perronet Briggs, oil on canvas, ca. 1830. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s virtual play reading series, FOUR PLAYS CSC WILL NEVER DO… PROBABLY, continues this month with performances of George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara (November 6) and Moliere’s Tartuffe (November 20). Tune in live on Facebook to watch your favorite CSC artists gather to read a play that the company would never do (… probably). Plus, go back and watch recordings of the company’s past readings of King John and Cardenio.

If you’re looking to learn a little history, check out the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s virtual exhibition about the life and work of pioneering Black actor Ira Aldridge. The exhibition features digital materials from the Folger Shakespeare Library, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, National Portrait Gallery, Walters Art Museum, and many other institutions.

⇒ Related: Ira Aldridge takes the stage

Door Shakespeare continues taking on the challenge of creating virtual content under these challenging times in the most inventive of ways. The company’s virtual The Comedy of Errors runs through November 16. Producing Artistic Director Michael Stebbins directs a cast of five playing fifteen characters. The production is imagined as a recently-discovered beta videocassette, containing the only surviving episode of a 1984 public-access-television game show, Door County Squares. The 70-minute piece embraces the 1980s head-on, with scenes set in the “Ephesus Shopping Mall,” abundant pastel colors, and an original synth and techno score. Of course, ’80s video magic brings the Dromios and the Antipholi face-to-face in the reunion scene, and the entire cast comes together in Act V with a dozen characters interacting with one another.

Here at the Folger, our Shakespeare Lightning Round series continues in November with conversations with Shakespeare’s Globe’s Farah Karim-Cooper (November 13, noon EST) and actor, cook, and author John Tufts (November 18, 5 pm EST). Plus, check out our Folger ENCORES series: every Friday, we’re releasing a new clip from one of our past performances on the Folger stage, like this one from our hit 2019 production of Sir William Davenant’s Restoration-era adaptation of Macbeth: 

⇒ Related: Before he joins us on the Shakespeare Lightning Round, try a recipe for roast mutton from John Tufts’s cookbook, Fat Rascals: Dining at Shakespeare’s Table.

The second season of Reflecting Shakespeare TV, The Old Globe’s transformative program originally created for people experiencing incarceration, started in October. You’ll use William Shakespeare’s texts and characters as a launch point for self-reflection to create community and reduce isolation. The program airs Mondays at 9:30 pm ET / 6:30 p.m. PT on Facebook, YouTube, or the Old Globe’s website, where you can also catch up on Season 2’s first four episodes.

Technical Director Neal Ormond composites individual live performances of actors into a unified background for San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s 2020 Free Shakespeare at Home production of “King Lear.”

This summer, nearly 9,000 people caught the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s innovative virtual production of King Lear. The production used a total of 32 computer devices to create a shared virtual environment for actors performing separately in their own homes. Now, the festival is offering a webinar series, “Making Virtual Theater” for theater artists who want to give digital performance a shot. Visit the festival’s website to sign up for more information about the webinars, which start November 21.

Beginning November 9, Shakespeare at Notre Dame’s Shakespeare in Prison’s Network will host its fourth Shakespeare in Prisons Conference (SiPC4) in partnership with the Folger Institute. The virtual conference will gather theater arts practitioners, researchers, and scholars who are engaged with or interested in programs for incarcerated (and post-incarcerated) populations. The conference features speakers, performances, and workshop sessions exploring case studies and best practices in the prisons arts movement, and asks big questions about the practice and effects of Shakespeare programs in prisons. Conference registration is $20. Wondering where to start? Learn how prison arts practitioners are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic with three past conversations you can watch for free on YouTube: “Advocacy in a Brave New World”, “Programming in a Pandemic”, and “Radical Self-care.”

You’re stuck at home and the weather is getting chilly… a seafaring adventure sounds like just the thing. Watch the Southwest Shakespeare Company’s October virtual reading of Pericles on YouTube.

If you’re curious about how a play comes together onstage, the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s series of production seminars is a great place to start. This year, their talks have explored scenic, costume, properties, sound, and lighting design; theater electrics; planning a scene change; and much more. November 5 at 1 pm ET / 11 am MT on the festival’s Facebook page, watch a virtual talk all about production management. Plus, find all of those previous seminars on the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s webpage.

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If you’re in Montgomery, Alabama, there’s still time to explore the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Speak the Speech experience. Take a stroll through the festival’s beautiful Blount Cultural Park to find excerpts from works by Shakespeare, August Wilson, Dominique Morisseau, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Zora Neale Hurston, Lauren Gunderson, Thornton Wilder, Lorraine Hansberry, Mary Kathryn Nagle, and other luminary playwrights. The festival invites you to “speak the speech” and feel the power of language in your voice. Film yourself and share your performance with #SpeaktheSpeech!

2020 has been an enormously difficult year for theaters and performing arts organization across the country. November begins a season of giving and thankfulness, so if you’re able to this month, consider making a gift to a theater company or arts organization that’s special to you.


Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Door Shakespeare, The Old Globe, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare at Notre Dame, Southwest Shakespeare Company, and Utah Shakespeare Festival are members of the Folger’s Theater Partnership Program.

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