Shakespeare's Staging
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Video Gallery

This new Gallery is being greatly developed and reordered. At present the  video clips start with one about Shakespeare's personal life (1). The next clips (2-8) cover the rich variety of social and theatrical traditions relevant to his time,  including illustrations of actual performance conditions in Elizabethan theatres such as the Globe, with some clips concerning modern use of the rebuilt Globe Theatre in Southwark. Then follows a half-hour documentary (9) which displays the relationship of Anglo-Spanish theatrical traditions in the Renaissance to modern America.

Thereafter typical scenes are drawn from representative plays (10-24), as a major part of a planned anthology of classic performances of scenes from the principal plays associated with Shakespeare. Next, experimentally, come two full versions of King Lear and Cymbeline (25-26) as closely related plays.  Then follow extended, contrasting scenes from two of Shakespeare's most favored plays: A Midsummer Night's Dream and Hamlet (28-35). Finally we have included three of the very earliest recorded performances of Shakespeare.

Because, until recently, live theatrical performances were not regularly recorded, we have been obliged in many cases to depend on film productions, either for cinema or television. However, as most of these scenes involve distinguished stage actors, often reflecting earlier stage performances, these clips offer some access to genuinely theatrical effects, though their impact may also depend partly on options uniquely relating to film: closeups, authentic location shots, etc. However, all the actors display memorable mastery of textual nuances. The sole purpose intended for these extracts and commentaries is educational, not commercial.


1. Visual Backgrounds of Shakespeare and his Theatre

Shakespeare’s plays record many aspects of the physical environment in which he lived, as illustrated by surviving examples of Elizabethan art and architecture. This extract is taken from the DVD Shakespeare and the Globe, distributed by Films for the Humanities


2. Elizabethan England: the Renaissance Faire of Northern California - Part I

This documentary covers various aspects of Elizabethan culture: its dances, theatre, music. costumes, and the life of Elizabeth and her court. Much of this material is reflected in the scripts of Shakespeare’s plays


 3. Elizabethan England: the Renaissance Faire of N. California - Part II

This documentary covers various aspects of Elizabethan culture: its dances, theatre, music. costumes, and the life of Elizabeth and her court. Much of this material is reflected in the scripts of Shakespeare’s plays



4. Elizabethan England: the Renaissance Faire of N. California - Part III

This documentary covers various aspects of Elizabethan culture: its dances, theatre, music, costumes, and the life of Elizabeth and her court. Much of this material is reflected in the scripts of Shakespeare’s plays


5. The Braggart Soldier from Classical Theatre To Shakespeare

Shakespeare borrowed many effects from classical drama, particularly such characters as the boastful but cowardly soldier, reincarnated in Pistol and Falstaff. This extract is taken from the DVD Shakespeare and the Globe, distributed by Films for the Humanities.


6. Performance in an Inn Yard: the Drunken Scene (III.iii) from Much Ado

This scene is recreated to show how well a performance can take place in an authentic Renaissance Inn where plays were often performed when theatres were not available. This staging was at the George Inn in Southwark, near where the Globe Theatre was built. Borachio: Shawn Kairschner, Conrada: Jennifer Krom. This excerpt is taken from the DVD Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Restored distributed by TMW Media


7. Playing at the Globe: Rebecca Tourino

A U.C. Berkeley actor reflects on her experience in the staging of Much Ado at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in Southwark. This excerpt is taken from the DVD Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Restored distributed by TMW Media.


8. Much Ado About Nothing

This excerpt shows the climax of a performance of Much Ado by the Shakespeare Program of U.C. Berkeley on the reconstructed stage of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in Southwark on 15 July 1966. This Elizabethan-style production was transferred from U.C. Berkeley, where it was first performed in the open air on the steps of Wheeler Hall. For more details see Gallery 1.8 and Gallery 14.4, 58-68.


9. Shakespeare and the Spanish Connection

This thirty-minute documentary covers key relationships between the two theatre traditions of Spain and England, including varied materials from performances in New Mexico and California, of theatre excerpts from Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Calderon, and Alarcon, mostly by theatre professionals. It has visuals from Spain (the Almagro Theatre, Velazquez paintings from the Prado), England (the restored Globe Theatre, National Portrait Gallery), and historical data from the South West, including accounts of community drama in New Mexico and California. Distributed by TMW Media.
10. Setting the Scene: An Edwardian setting for The Merry Wives of Windsor

Every performance must establish a world for its play. Here the opening scene of the U.C.B. production establishes a traditional world in which the formality of Edwardian society assimilates Elizabethan manners easily. Such modernization often makes the plays more intelligible.
alt 11. Ford's Jealousy in The Merry Wives of Windsor (II.ii) Verges on Tragedy

The jealous Mr. Ford suspects his wife is having an affair with Falstaff and, disguising himself as the motorist Mr. Brook, he tries to entrap them. The intensity of the scene anticipates Othello, and reminds us that Shakespeares tragicomedies can mix intensely serious and comic effects. From a production of the U.C.B. Shakespeare Program.
12. General Talbot outwits a patriotic Frenchwoman in Henry VI, Part 1, II.iii.

The Countess of Auvergne is one of several enormously energetic and determined Frenchwomen who challenge the English invaders of France. Shakespeare was fascinated by such women. Taken from the U.C.B. Shakespeare Program: Plantagenet Women.
13. The French Queen Margaret Seeks Power in the England of Henry VI, Part 2, I.iii.

Another dynamic Frenchwoman, Queen Margaret is Shakespeares longest and most complex female role, appearing in four plays: three parts of Henry VI, and Richard III. This episode is taken from the U.C.B. Shakespeare Program: Plantagenet Women. See still Gallery 1.4.
14. Comedy of Errors Act 2, Scene 2, with Judi Dench

Shakespeare modifies his model for confusion over twins in the “Menaechni” of Plautus, by adding an extra pair of twins. While the basic effect of their confused identities is farcical, this clip shows how Shakespeare also treats understandingly the stress on Adriana of confrontation with a seemingly indifferent husband. The play thoughout treats women’s social roles with sympathy.
14B. RSC, As You Like It, 3.2 (staged in NY)

This scene from “As You Like It” illustrates the driving force of the plot: to permit debates about the complexities and confusions of love, under the effects of disguise.
15. Measure for Measure (II.ii): the Debate between Justice and Mercy

Many of Shakespeares plays center on formal arguments about the role of mercy in the administration of justice; The Merchant of Venice, Othello, even Lear. Here the novice nun Isabella pleads with Judge Angelo for suspension of the death sentence of her brother for fornication. Though intense the scene is structured as a formal theological debate, as often in Shakespeare. U.C.B. Shakespeare Program production.
16. Richard III Act I Scene I Soliloquy - by Laurence Olivier

This soliloquy opening the play of Richard III illistrates the audience rapport resullting from this performance device, leading audiences to identify with the speaker's point of view
alt 17A. Richard III: Opening Christopher Marlowe Song

This introduction to the film production of “Richard III” starring Ian McKellen establishes its basic approach to the script: modernizing it to suit what might have happened in the nineteen-thirties if England had succumbed to a Nazi  tyranny such as Hitler’s in Germany. Society is shown as extravagant and self-indulgent at a royal ball, with music cleverly modernizing a famous Renaissance pastoral lyric, “Come live with me and be my love . . .”
alt 17B. Ian McKellen: Soliloquy (Richard III, I.i)

The realistic settings of the film version give new immediacy to the script but reduce the audience impact of Olivier’s version, which is fully addressed to the camera.
18. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre: Falstaff (Roger Allam) on Honor

This famous scene at the Battle of Shrewsbury in Henry IV Part 1 (V.i) illustrates the technique of soliloquy in which the actor addresses the audience directly and earns their sympathy as a result. Falstaff (Roger Allam) and Hal (Jamie Parker).
18A. Olivier Othello 1965: Opening Scene

This film’s opening scene (from a celebrated stage production) establishes Othello as a commanding personality, readily dominating all challenges, though perhaps a little facile in manner: Olivier was censured for making Othello too servile to Venetians and he himself even said that he modeled his performance on the idea of a “house slave.” The grossness of the “black-face” make-up was also censured. This is not a proud Arab prince.
18 B. Olivier’s  Othello 1965:  Climax

This scene with Desdemona (Maggie Smith) marks the tragic climax of the play, tragic because Othello at its start almost intuit the lack of wisdom in his fatal justice. Like too many Shakespearean heroes Othello overvalues seeming virtue as seen in Iago, and judges seeming vice prematurely and over severely.  This excessive love of excellence is what I call “tragic virtue.”
20. Henry V at the Globe Theater(Laurence Olivier)

In this brilliantly-colored film Olivier opened his distinguished series of cinematic Shakespeare achievements. It was intended to reinforce British nationalism at the time of the Normandy invasion, being dedicated in 1944 to the ‘Commandos and Airborne Troops of Great Britain the spirit of whose ancestors it has been humbly attempted to recapture."
21. Macbeth by Roman Polanski

This trailer illustrates the vivid intensity of Polanski's Macbeth images, which gives energy and freshness, enhanced by the youthful vigor of his Macbeths. Too often this script is staged by weary middle-aged actors in semi-darkness.

22. Anthony & Cleopatra with Janet Susman

Antony and Cleopatra is notoriously hard to stage, particularly if its swift scene-changes are made the occasion of grandiose effects. Cleopatra is almost never as effectively evoked as here by Janet Susman. This brief minor scene illustrates the perfection of Shakespeare’s verbal mastery in it rapid fluctuations of tone.
24. Othello: with Laurence Fishburne

This scene (5.2)  illustrates the favorable effect on cinematic close-ups  of using an actor of African descent. However, the casting of Othello continues to raise issues about staging Othello as African. 
25. King Lear Act IV, Scene 6

Actors' Theatre Columbus '07 outdoor production of KING LEAR. Features artistic director John Kuhn as Lear and John Tener as Gloucester. Production directed by Mark Mann.
26. Cymbeline: Act 1, Scene 1

The opening of the play offers us its bizarre plot details and then illustrates them vividly by beautifully portrayed characters, clad, in the BBC version, in elegant 
alt 27. The Changeableness of Youth in The Two Noble Kinsmen (II.ii).

In Shakespeares later plays the style is more intimate, conversational and muted. Feelings are volatile and erratic, so the audience is less involved. This new style is associated with Shakespeares co-author in this play, and his successor as playwright to the KingsMen: John Fletcher. U.C.B. Shakespeare Program production.
alt 28. Max Reinhardt's A Midsummer Night's Dream

Reinhardt’s Dream of 1935 for Warner Bothers brilliant deploys cinematic talent to recreate a film version of the play, by using such stars as  James Cagney (Bottom), Micky Roonie (Puck), Olivia de Havilland (Hermia), and  by exploiting the glitter and sweep of Busby Berkeley’s musicals
alt 29. Peter Hall, 1968, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Peter Hall’s Dream gives a contrasting television version of Dream to Reinhardt’s: small-scale, casual, provocative. The scantily-clad Titania of Judi Dench shocked many, but accurately reflects the sexual charge
alt 31. Max Reinhardt's, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act IV

This clip of Oberon, Titania, and Puck, gives a glimpse of the glittering brilliance of much of Reinhardt’s film: elsewhere in the film the fairies become a cloud of pretty dancing girls. These can readily be seen on YouTube!
alt 32. RSC, Hamlet, 2009, Act 1, Scene 2

This televised version of Hamlet, with Patrick Stuart as King Claudius and David Tennant as Prince Hamlet, deftly transposed a staged production to a television format, making it available beyond the standing-room-only theatre setting (oversold to enthusiasts for Tennant’s earlier television role as Dr.
alt 33. Hamlet, 1948, Act 1, Scene 2:Olivier as Hamlet

Olivier’s film production of Hamlet has been much admired, particularly for scenes such as this one, which transforms the soliloquy format into an inward meditation. However, there was some criticism of the film’s endless interior shots of the castle
alt 35. Hamlet, 1964: Trailer for Kozinstev film

Famous Russian director Grigori Kozintsev earned universal praise for this film of Hamlet, even when presented in Russian. It offers an impressively dynamic Hamlet of genuinely heroic character, and the whole film has a vivid liveliness 
alt 36. Beerbohm Tree, King John, Act V, Scene 6

This tiny clip of Beerbohm’s King John is the first filmic version of a Shakespeare play. It shows the elaborate staging for which he was famous. Later he filmed his magnificent production of Shakespeare’s King Henry VIII, providing a precedent
alt 37. Vitagraph, 1908, Richard III

This clip of Richard III (1908) is taken from the series of very brief Shakespeare films which Vitagraph made at the start of the 20th  C. in addition to the over-compressed nature of the action, the characterizations now seems crude, but still effective.
alt 38. Taming of the Shrew, Act 2, Scene 1: Early Sound Recording

This audio tape of Petruchio (Edward Sothern, 1859-1933)  and Katerina (Julia Marlowe, 1865-1950) captures the energy and psychology of Edwardian Shakespeare performances by two outstanding Shakespearean actors of the period. See images of these performers in Gallery 5.
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