William Shakespeare

Happy Birthday, Shakespeare: Things that Might Surprise The Bard

When William Shakespeare was born 451 years ago, I’m quite certain there was no way of knowing just how famous this child would become. I mean, we all believe our children are special and capable of great things, but just imagine one of your offspring being celebrated as the greatest writer in the English language four centuries after his or her death.

Shakespeare was versatile as both a poet and a playwright. His works, still constantly in production to this day, are the most frequently staged plays in the history of the theater.

Not only that, but think about how difficult it is to keep a literary career going during one’s lifetime let alone to continue to sell books long after the author has passed away. In a Forbes article from 2005, it was estimated that Shakespeare sells 10 million copies of his plays worldwide making a conservative $15 million annually. Alas, no family members are collecting on those royalties these days.

Just in case these monetary facts about his longevity fail to astound The Bard of Stratford-on-Avon, perhaps the following examples about his continuing influence upon literature would make Will sit up and take notice.

First Look: PBS Preview for Shakespeare Series 'The Hollow Crown'

The highly anticipated Shakespeare mini-series The Hollow Crown will finally air in America this Fall as part of PBS’s Great Performances series – and given the response online to the announcement of the series’ premiere date, a lot of people are pretty excited to get their Bard on. (No judgment, I am too.)

The star-studded quartet of films adapts four of Shakespeare’s most famous history plays – Richard II, Henry IV Part One, Henry IV Part Two and Henry V – as single chronological narrative, telling the story of the rise and fall of a dynasty. The series, which stars many notable British actors including Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Patrick Stewart, Rory Kinnear, Michelle Dockery, David Suchet, Simon Russell Beale and more, will run weekly on Friday nights beginning September 20.

Watch the first PBS preview for The Hollow Crown below – plus an extra bonus clip featuring BAFTA-winning actor Whishaw performing the deposition monologue from Richard II.

Ten Film Adaptations of Shakespeare You Should Watch

Director Joss Whedon’s new ultra modern, black and white adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing has arrived in theaters – both here in DC and all over the country - and suddenly everyone in town seems to be besotted with the Bard.

To celebrate, this seems like a perfect time to talk about that most famous of British writers and the many great film versions of his work that are out there. Some are great, some are good, some are…a bit on the strange side, but nevertheless still a fantastic example of the many different ways that Shakespeare’s work can be interpreted hundreds of years after his death, and how his stories and characters still resonate with modern audiences.

Here are ten Shakespearean film adaptations that are worth watching – take a look and tell us what you think got left off the list in the comments.

Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth to Stream to Cinemas Worldwide

The upcoming Manchester International Festival production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth has been causing considerable buzz – thanks to its limited run, unusual setting and basically perfect cast. The great Sir Kenneth Branagh will play Macbeth, joined by Doctor Who’s Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth, Merlin's Alexander Vlahos as Malcolm and Coronation Street’s Ray Fearon as Macduff.

Seriously, England gets the best theater. It’s just unfair.

This production marks Branagh’s first Shakespeare performance in over a decade, which seems a bit strange when you remember how well he was once known for Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing and that epic four-hour Hamlet. So, it probably comes as no surprise that tickets to this extremely limited run sold out in record time.

Directed by Rob Ashford and Branagh himself, Shakespeare’s tragic tale of ambition and treachery will unfold within the walls of a deconsecrated Manchester church. Seriously. How cool is that? If this were happening anywhere near here, wouldn’t we all be lining up for the chance to see this play? Well, luckily, even though we’re not in Manchester, we don’t have to miss out on this production completely. Read on for details.