The play "Hedda Gabler" by Henrik Ibsen was written in 1891. It features a female protagonist who feels trapped and bored by her loveless marriage and the rules of Victorian society, and relieves her frustration through manipulating others. A play called "Heddatron," is a comedic reinterpretation of "Hedda Gabler." The producers of "Heddatron" updated the play for a 21st century audience by incorporating robots into the cast. As new forms of technology are showing up in unexpected places, the integration of robots in this play challenges our thinking about the role of technology in our culture and our society. Listen to this story to learn why the producers decided to bring robots into a century-old play, and what challenges they faced in bringing their reinterpretation to the stage.
William Shakespeare is commonly considered one of western civilization's greatest playwrights. But a persistent debate continues to rage around his legacy. Did the man we know as William Shakespeare actually write all those poems and plays? This story features two Shakespearean actors who have come to doubt the author. Listen to learn more about the debate surrounding the authorship of Shakespeare's works.
William Shakespeare’s tragic romance of star crossed lovers, based on an Italian tale, graced stages in the 1590’s and continues to capture audiences and imagination today. Modern adaptations demonstrate the timelessness of this romantic tragedy. Juliet appeals so directly to people that they actually write to her! Listen to learn more about the Juliet Club and the 6,000 letters they receive a year.
Current Event May 7, 2015
William Shakespeare is one of the most well-known playwrights in history. His stories of love, tragedy, comedy and history written in the late 1500s have transcended the centuries thanks to their timeless themes and complex characters. Author Tina Packer has tracked the development of Shakespeare’s female characters through his writing career and suggests that from “Romeo and Juliet” on, Shakespeare wrote unusually complex women for his time and should be considered a proto-feminist. Listen to learn more about the development of these female characters over his career.
Playwright Arthur Miller wrote plays that spoke to the common man. From his commentary on the American dream in "Death of a Salesman" to McCarthyism in "The Crucible," Miller wrote hard-hitting personal dramas that also resonated with a wide spectrum of American people, especially the working class. Listen to learn more about Miller’s roots, his writing process, and how his personal background—particularly his house and writing space—compare to backgrounds shared by his characters.
One of the most enduring novels written for young adults is "Anne of Green Gables," by Lucy Maud Montgomery, published in 1908. It was one of the first YA novels to feature a strong, unconventional female lead—Anne, the unwanted, unloved, but unbowed orphan who grabs hold of a chance for a new life and refuses to let go, no matter how difficult things get. Before Anne, most heroines were beautiful and angelic. "Anne of Green Gables" is over 100 years old, but its heroine measures up to any female lead contemporary YA novels have to offer.
Current Event June 8, 2014
William Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing” has been adapted for the stage and screen across history and across the globe. The plot of the play, written in 1598 and 1599, resonates across time and with many audiences. The most recent film adaptation by Josh Whedon in 2013 delighted critics and viewers alike. Listen to hear from Whedon himself why he loved “Much Ado About Nothing” and the impact he thinks the play has had on modern storytelling.
Current Event April 27, 2014
Plays and poetry written by William Shakespeare are studied in schools around the world. The British playwright is acknowledged as one of the great literary minds of all time - but not everyone believes that the works attributed to Shakespeare were actually written by him. No existing documents link the William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon to the famous plays. In addition, Shakespeare’s lack of education makes many question how he knew so much about language and the worlds of the rich that he writes about. Listen to learn more about these doubts over Shakespearean authorship and make up your own mind!
And check out this additional PBS resource on the authorship debate “Much Ado About Something”
Current Event November 21, 2013
Richard III, the last York King, was the King of England from 1483 to 1485. After his death in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, the Tudor dynasty began. The Tudors, with the help of William Shakespeare, worked to depict Richard has a hunchbacked villain. But the real story is more complex. In 2012 Richard’s remains were found under a parking lot, the site of a cathedral in the 15th century. They were exhumed and reburied at Leicester Cathedral in 2015. Listen to learn more about this fascinating discovery and the Medieval smear campaign that led to Shakespeare’s depiction of Richard III.
Current Event November 18, 2013
We often think of Shakespeare’s verse as grand, beautiful and proper. The British Library has analyzed the rhyme of Shakespeare’s work and discovered the original pronunciation and dialect of his writings when they were first performed at the Globe Theater. Listen to hear how Shakespeare may have sounded 400 years ago.
Current Event November 11, 2013
William Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” is a tragedy that wrestles with issues of power, ambition and madness. From witches and ghosts to murder, this classic tale has been staged for decades. A new rendition is set in a psychiatric institution and is played almost entirely by one actor, Alan Cumming. Listen to learn more about the original story and this unique adaptation.
Current Event October 30, 2013
Playwright Samuel Beckett is known for his postmodernist, absurdist and dark comedy writing. His work, including his most famous play 'Waiting for Godot,' is hard to grasp initially but reflected the post World War II era and his own worldview. Beckett had a complex life as a man and a writer. Listen to learn more about Samuel Beckett’s life and his plays.