Shakespeare Uncovered continues with a second season on WPBT2. Like the first series, the second installment of Shakespeare Uncovered combines history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis and the personal passions of its celebrated hosts – Hugh Bonneville, Kim Cattrall, Joseph Fiennes, Morgan Freeman, David Harewood, and Christopher Plummer – to tell the stories behind the stories of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. The new season investigates A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Othello and The Taming of the Shrew. Each episode reveals the extraordinary world and works of William Shakespeare and the still-potent impact his plays have today. The films combine interviews with actors, directors and scholars, along with visits to key locations, clips from some of the most-celebrated film and television adaptations, and illustrative excerpts from the plays staged specially for the series at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.
The six hosts each have a personal connection with the play they present. Christopher Plummer is one of the great Lears of our time; Kim Cattrall has played Cleopatra twice on the English stage; Morgan Freeman has taken on The Taming of the Shrew’s Petruchio at New York’s Shakespeare in the Park; Joseph Fiennes portrayed Shakespeare playing Romeo in the Academy Award-winning blockbuster movie Shakespeare in Love; and Hugh Bonneville began his career as an understudy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. David Harewood was an acclaimed Othello at London’s National Theatre – the first black actor to play the role there (and will be familiar to Homeland fans as CIA director David Estes and, currently, as Sam Saperstein on Selfie).
Behind every Shakespeare play there is a story. Shakespeare Uncovered reveals not just the elements in the play, but the history of the play itself. What sparked the creation of each of these works? Where did Shakespeare get his plots, and what new forms of theater did he forge? What cultural, political and religious factors influenced his writing? How have the plays been staged and interpreted from Shakespeare’s time to now? Why at different times has each play been so popular – or ignored? And finally, why has this body of work endured so thoroughly? What, in the end, makes Shakespeare so great?