Shakespeare's Restless World

Shakespeare's Restless World

United Kingdom

Making a selection of objects from the British Museum and collections across the UK, Neil MacGregor uncovers the stories they tell about Shakespeare's world.

Episodes

Shakespeare Goes Global  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, brings to an end his object-based history. During the past four weeks he has taken artefacts from William Shakespeare's time and explored how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asked what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. Carefully selected objects shed light on the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and revealed much about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. In this, the final programme of the series, Neil considers how William Shakespeare made the transition from successful playwright to possibly the greatest dramatist the world has known Programme 20 SHAKESPEARE GOES GLOBAL - The publication of the First Folio of Shakespeare's collected plays in 1623 began the process of turning an early modern playwright into a global phenomenon. An annotated copy of the Collected Works of Shakespeare reveals the extent to which Shakespeare has inspired and influenced audiences across the globe and through the ages. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

The Theatres of Cruelty  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 19. THE THEATRES OF CRUELTY - A human eyeball in a silver setting provides a striking insight to the theatre of cruelty in Elizabethan and Jacobean Britain. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

London Becomes Rome  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 18. LONDON BECOMES ROME - A set of designs for the Coronation Procession of James I reveals the extent of classical knowledge amongst Shakespeare's audience. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Plague and the Playhouse  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 17. PLAGUE & THE PLAYHOUSE - May 1603 saw not only a new king but the worst plague outbreak since the Black Death. Its impact and reach is told through a series of early seventeenth century proclamations. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

A Time of Change, a Change of Time  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, enters the final week of his object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 16 A TIME OF CHANGE, A CHANGE OF TIME - A rare domestic clock with an equally rare minute hand and quarter-hour chimes reveals the changing relationship Shakespeare's audiences had to time. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

The Flag That Failed  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 15. THE FLAG THAT FAILED - The problems in uniting Scotland and England and in creating a Great Britain are encapsulated in a set of designs for a common flag. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Disguise and Deception  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 14. DISGUISE & DECEPTION - Deception and religion, cross-dressing and travelling salesmen are all unpacked via a pedlar's trunk. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

From London to Marrakech  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 13. FROM LONDON TO MARRAKECH - Sunken gold from West Africa sheds light on the complex relationship Elizabethan England had with the Moors of the Mediterranean. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Sex and the City  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 12. SEX & THE CITY - A delicate glass goblet reveals the twin seductions of Venice: its sought after luxuries and its equally sought after lecherous women. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Treason and Plots  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 11. TREASON & PLOTS - A tabloid history of Shakespeare's England, told through a collection of contemporary accounts of plots to murder Elizabeth I and James I. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Toil and Trouble  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 10. TOIL AND TROUBLE - The differences between Scottish and English witches are revealed by a model ship, made to be hung in a church. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

New Science, Old Magic  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his new object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 9. NEW SCIENCE, OLD MAGIC - Dr Dee's Mirror was actually a highly polished disk of black obsidian from Mexico but it reflects the Elizabethan fascination with the new sciences of cosmology and astrology. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

City Life, Urban Strife  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his new object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 8. CITY LIFE, URBAN STRIFE - The life of London's apprentices and Shakespeare's groundlings told through a rare woollen cap. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Ireland: Failures in the Present  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his new object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 7. IRELAND: FAILURES IN THE PRESENT - A rare woodcut offers a equally rare visual impression of the troubles and tragedies of Elizabethan Ireland. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Europe: Triumphs of the Past  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his new object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 6. EUROPE: TRIUMPHS OF THE PAST - As a tourist attraction in Westminster Abbey, Henry V's instruments of battle reflect the view of English history as depicted on the Elizabeth stage. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Swordplay and Swagger  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, continues his new object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 5. SWORDPLAY AND SWAGGER - The essential accoutrements of any self-respecting gentleman illustrate the extent of violence in Elizabethan London - both onstage and off. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Life Without Elizabeth  

Radio 4 with a new object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 4. LIFE WITHOUT ELIZABETH - Painted in 1571 to justify and celebrate Elizabeth I's position in the Tudor succession, by the 1590s, with no direct Tudor heir, this image had very different implications. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Snacking through Shakespeare  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, returns to Radio 4 with a new object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 3. SNACKING THROUGH SHAKESPEARE - A luxury fork discovered on the site of the Rose theatre helps explain what people were nibbling on when they first heard: "Is this a dagger I see before me?" Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Communion and Conscience  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, returns to Radio 4 with a new object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 2. COMMUNION AND CONSCIENCE - The communion cup that Shakespeare may well have used sheds light on the dramatic religious changes that came in the aftermath of the Reformation Producer: Paul Kobrak.

England Goes Global  

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, returns to Radio 4 with a new object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived. With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England. Programme 1. ENGLAND GOES GLOBAL - How Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the globe changed the way Shakespeare's audiences viewed the world and their country's place on it. For the first time, England was engaging with the whole world. Producer: Paul Kobrak.

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