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Welcome to Shakespeare In the  News:
updates on new films, productions, and references to the Bard in the mass media.
Please email me your discoveries for posting on this page!

Also, I get lots of my news here: The Shakespeare Standard, a terrific web-digest of Shakespeare news, reviews, and more.

3 September 2011
Shameless plug department: William Shakespeare: His Life and Times, (which I co-authored with CMU Prof. Ari Berk), Templar Books, April 2010, is the winner of the 2011 School Library Association Children's Choice Information Book Award!

14 April 2010
Coriolanus -- the Shakespeare play chiefly known as an opportunity for Eric Cartman-style jokes -- will hit the big screen in a modern (Gulf-War-ish) setting starring Ralph Fiennes in 2011. Some early production photos here.

23 March 2010
Check out PlayShakespeare.com -- a new, user-friendly, and comprehensive site with all kinds of news and links, plus the added attraction of blog-hosting services for any wannabe Shakespeare bloggers.

23 March 2010
English actor Brian Cox coaches a 2-year-old through Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech.

7 April 2009
Too funny to miss -- Hamlet's Facebook tweets via McSweeney's. (Unfortunately, the version that actually looked like Facebook is offline, but you can find the text here.)

6 April 2009
Shakespeare? or Thomas Overbury? Or Random Cute Renaissance Guy?

Katherine Duncan-Jones tries to cut through the hype about the "new" portrait of Shakespeare recently unveiled in London.

6 April 2009
Ron Rosenbaum, author of The Shakespeare Wars, considers (in the light of the "new" portrait) the question of Shakespeare's sexiness.

15 January 2009
A fun and helpful new site, Bardbox, collects all the YouTube videos that have "Shakespeare" as a keyword. Some high-quality stuff, some junk, and some really funny. Don't miss "Cat Head Hamlet"!

8 October 2008
Wow, now this is BIG news: a new film production of The Tempest, directed by Julie Taymor (Titus, Across the Universe), will star HELEN MIRREN as "Prospera" -- a female version of Prospero. I saw Vanessa Redgrave perform the same role in the New Globe's production of The Tempest in 2000. This production has a stellar cast already -- Jeremy Irons, Djimon Hounsou, Alfred Molina -- and may add Geoffrey Rush. Starts filming November in Hawaii, so maybe we can expect it around Christmas 2009. I can't wait!

Helen Mirren (Left), Jeremy Irons and Djimon Hounsou (Getty Images photos)

27 August 2008
OK, I can't resist -- some clever person has posted Shakespeare lolcats!

27 August 2008
Another fun blog is Shakespeare Geek, who asks intelligent questions and finds useful resources.

18 March 2007
Whose was the best Hamlet? The Times of London's theater critic, the lushly named Benedict Nightingale, weighs in.

3 October 2006
Two YouTube gems:
Peter Sellars as Laurence Olivier's Richard III, reciting "A Hard Day's Night."
"Cat Head Theatre Presents Hamlet" -- what more can I say?

17 April 2006
If you have HBO, don't miss Elizabeth I, starring Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons. Terrific acting and costumes, and an unflinching portrayal of Queen Bess's tragic political and personal compromises.

30 March 2006
DON'T MISS THIS!!! The Beatles as "Pyramus and Thisbe"

21 April 2005
In honor of the Bard's Birthday, I guess -- Amazon.com has just opened a "Shakespeare Store".

 21 April 2005
In movie news -- Kenneth Branagh finally returns to Shakespeare and begins principal photography today on As You Like It -- here's the scoop from Variety:

Variety, 15 March 2005
Branagh Boards Bard
Thesp to direct Kline, Howard in 'As You Like It'

By Michael Fleming
Kenneth Branagh will direct Kevin Kline and Bryce Dallas Howard in a film adaptation of Shakespeare's "As You Like It" to be set in the late 1800s. HBO Films is financing the pic, which will be released theatrically before hitting the pay web.
Branagh may play the small role of Touchstone, the comic relief in the film. Jimmy Yuill, David Oyelowo, Adrian Lester and Brian Blessed are set for supporting roles.
Branagh produces the pic with Judy Hofflund and Simon Moseley. Shooting starts April 21 in England. HBO has an output deal for its theatricals with Fine Line, but it isn't clear yet who will distribute theatrically.
Effort marks the fifth Shakespeare adaptation Branagh has done for the screen, including his directing debut "Twelfth Night." He also directed "Much Ado About Nothing," "Love's Labour's Lost," "Hamlet" and "Henry V."
Howard will play Rosalind, a part she played at the Public Theater in New York. She'll next be seen in "Manderlay," Lars Von Trier's follow-up to "Dogville." Kline co-stars with Steve Martin in upcoming pic "The Pink Panther."

6 December 2004
It had to happen sometime --
Hamlet's "To Be or Not to Be" soliloquy: The Powerpoint Version

31 August 2004
Welcome to a new semester!  And it was inevitable, but there's now a Shakespeare blog: check out News on the Rialto, with daily news updates and links on performances and scholarship.

22 April 2004
Info on the upcoming (December 2004) film of The Merchant of Venice, starring Al (Looking for Richard) Pacino and Joseph (Shakespeare in Love) Fiennes.

20 April 2004
If you're interested in some of the plays that have from time to time been attributed to Shakespeare but aren't included in the official canon, here's an informative list -- "The Shakespeare Apocrypha"

23 March 2004
Fans of Looking for Richard will enjoy this essay -- it includes interesting trivia about the film.  For example, what actress re-dubbed Lady Anne's (Winona Ryder's) lines?

16 March 2004
A little post-break fun: Hamlet -- The Text Adventure -- a language-only hypertext game in which you take on the persona of Hamlet and navigate his world.  Addictive!

5 March 2004
A fun project: you can download a plan for a paper model of Shakespeare's Globe -- it downloads onto one page which you can then blow up on a copier machine or your PC. 

29 January 2004 
Set your Tivos and VCRs for Michael Wood's In Search of Shakespeare, airing on PBS (locally, WDCQ, Ch. 19/35 will air the show on Wednesday nights, February 4 -25.  Our own station, WCMU, apparently will only show the last two parts on Feb. 18 and 25).   This is a very entertaining documentary about the life of Shakespeare.  Some of its scholarship and conclusions are questionable, but it's a great visual tour through Shakespeare's world.  Access PBS' informational website here.  Here's the air schedule for WDCQ:

Part 1: A Time of Revolution -- Feb 5, 3:00AM and Feb 9, 10:00PM
Part 2:  The Lost Years -- Feb 12, 3:00AM and Feb 16, 10:00PM
Part 3: The Duty of Poets -- Feb 19, 3:00AM and Feb 23, 10:00PM
Part 4: For All Time --  Feb 26, 3:00AM

27 January, 2004 
A new film of The Merchant of Venice is in production, starring Joseph (Shakespeare in Love) Fiennes as Bassanio and Al Pacino as Shylock (this might explain the ponytail he was wearing at the Golden Globes).  Not much info yet, but here's the Internet Movie Database listing, if you want to keep tabs on it.

21 October, 2003
Click here for access to Holinshed's Chronicles -- Shakespeare's source for his histories, Macbeth, etc.,  now available online.

14 February, 2002
Happy Valentine's Day!  Click here for a CNN story on a British perfumery attempting to recreate a "Shakespeare Love Potion."

11 February, 2002
A new, valuable site for the British Shakespeare Association -- lots of info on Shakespeare productions and  scholarship, with a lively discussion board.

22 January, 2002
Another Shakespeare-based film opens soon -- Scotland, PA, sets the plot of Macbeth among competing fast-food moguls in a small Pennsylvania town.  Stars Christopher Walken and Andy Dick (yes, really!).  Click here for the official site and study guide.  (This probably won't open here, but we'll wait for the video).

October 2, 2001
Watch our local PBS-TV station (WCMU) for a new production of The Merchant of Venice -- it airs Tuesday, October 9, at 9PM on Masterpiece Theater.  Click here for the production website.


September 6, 2001
Scholars are buzzing about a possible new portrait of Shakespeare -- read a Washington Post article about the recently-discovered portrait and its implications.


August 23, 2001
"O" (a modern updating of Othello, starring Mekhi Phifer and Julia Stiles) is finally opening here in Mt. Pleasant, August 31, 2001 -- here's the official site.

May 2, 2001
Two Macbeth adaptations coming up:
"Scotland, PA" -- opening at Sundance Film Festival 
but not released till Jan. 2002

Here's how Abandon Pictures describes it: "Set in the 1970's in small town
Pennsylvania, Scotland, PA is a darkly funny retelling of Shakespeare's
classic tale. When a young couple tries to rise up from unsuccessful careers 
in the fast food industry, they are consumed not by their love of burgers, fries 
and shakes, but by an unquenchable greed and lust for power, which ultimately 
brings about their humorous, yet tragic, downfalls."

"Rave Macbeth" --

"Set in a trendy rave nightclub, this is the tale of political maneuvering
within a gang of drug dealers led by Hecate, as Dean, Marcus, and Troy
wrestle for influence. Things get heady when Lidia tries to help her boyfriend
Marcus get the upper hand... "

April 17, 2001
Michael Almereyda's Hamlet, starring Ethan Hawke, Julia Stiles, 
Bill Murray, and Kyle McLachlan, is now available in video stores.  
The setting is New York City, 2000 -- The CEO of Denmark Corp. has just died, 
and his son, Hamlet, suspects foul play...

April 9, 2001
Too violent?  Or just plain bad?  For those who are waiting for the release of "O" -- 
a modern updating of "Othello" starring Mekhi Phifer and Julia Stiles -- 
here's some info about why it's been postponed yet again 
(latest release date: August 2001).

April 1, 2001
Just for fun -- Like Hamlet?  Like cats?  Click here.

March 21, 2001
Valentine's Day is over, but young lovers can still celebrate spring 
by sending an online Shakespeare Sonnet Card.

March 20, 2001
As You Like It fans -- read the prose romance the play is based on -- 
Lodge's Rosalynde -- online

March 19, 2001
News about a new TNT production setting King Lear in the Wild West
starring Patrick Stewart.

October 24, 2000
Ever wonder what a sackbut or a shawm or a zink is?  Here's a fun website 
sent to me by a graduate student -- anyone who's interested in 
Medieval/Renaissance music
will enjoy this -- you can sample the sounds 
of real period instruments. 

October 17, 2000
Don't have a refrigerator in your dorm room?  Don't despair -- 
you can still make Shakespeare Magnet Poetry on a website!  
(Your computer must be Java-enabled for this to work, but it's fun!)

This page maintained and moderated by Prof. Kristen McDermott, Central Michigan University.
Questions or comments? Email me, please.

Kristen McDermott, 2007-11.  The materials on these pages are intended solely for the use of Central Michigan University students currently enrolled in my courses or who are considering enrolling in my courses.  Use of this material, especially syllabi, in any other context is prohibited without first obtaining permission from Dr. McDermott.

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This page last updated: 09/15/2011

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