1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear by James Shapiro

bookshelves: autumn-2015, nonfiction, willsphernalia, radio-4, published-2015, history, stuarts, execution, lit-crit, religion, plague-disease

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from October 14 to 16, 2015

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06gqdwm

Description: Ten years ago James Shapiro won the Samuel Johnson Prize for his bestseller 1599: A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

1606: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND THE YEAR OF LEAR is a compelling look at a no less extraordinary year in his life. The book traces Shakespeare’s life and times from the autumn of 1605, when he took an old and anonymous Elizabethan play, THE CHRONICLE HISTORY OF KING LEIR, and transformed it into his most searing tragedy, KING LEAR.

1606 proved to be an especially grim year for England, witnessing the bloody aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, divisions over the Union of England and Scotland, and an outbreak of plague. But it turned out to be an exceptional one for Shakespeare who, before the year was out, went on to complete two other great Jacobean tragedies that spoke directly to these fraught times: MACBETH and ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.

1/5: The Theatre: The ferment in the country and King James’ insistence on an Oath of Allegiance brings religious tensions to the fore in 1606. Anyone refusing to take communion (and therefore presumed to be Catholic) was fined. These matters come very close to William Shakespeare when a member of his family refuses communion in Stratford Upon Avon.

2/5: The Gunpowder Plot: The impact of the Gunpowder Plot of late 1605 has implications not only for the monarchy and aristocracy but also for the work of the contemporary playwrights, including William Shakespeare.

3/5: Plague: An outbreak of the plague threatens the livelihood of William Shakespeare when the theatres are closed. It also looms close to his home in London.

4/5: Religion: The ferment in the country and King James’ insistence on an Oath of Allegiance brings religious tensions to the fore in 1606. Anyone refusing to take communion (and therefore presumed to be Catholic) was fined. These matters come very close to William Shakespeare when a member of his family refuses communion in Stratford Upon Avon.

5/5: Union: King James’ quest for the union of England and Scotland is not easily resolved.

SEE ALSO…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007728h

Description: King Lear on Boxing Day 1606, the entertainment offered to King James I and his guests at Whitehall Palace was a new play by William Shakespeare – King Lear.

Four hundred years on, Francine Stock and a studio full of guests, including actors Fiona Shaw and Oliver Ford Davis; scholars Jonathan Bate, Richard Dutton, Brett Dolman and Tiffany Stern; food historian Ivan Day and musicians Passamezzo (along with some distinguished contributors from the BBC Archives), bring to life every aspect of that momentous opening night.

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