Shakespeare Uncovered

Expand/Collapse Shakespeare Uncovered


Shakespeare Uncovered explores the complete plays of William Shakespeare—one of the greatest writers to have ever lived. From his comedies to histories to tragedies, the series looks at the stories that have shaped our cultural history: seeking out each play’s inspiration, finding the moments and places that set every scene, as well as examining the words that gave life to Shakespeare’s world both in the past and present.

This thematic collection -- which adheres to national learning standards -- contains video segments from the series, informational texts, discussion questions, and suggestions for extension activities to enhance your students’ reading, viewing, and appreciation of Shakespeare’s works.

O this learning, what a thing it is!

  • War and Leadership in Shakespeare’s Henry V

    This lesson uses video segments from Shakespeare Uncovered to explore the nature of war and its impact on those who fight it – particularly the title character of William Shakespeare's "history" play Henry V.

    This lesson is best used before, during, or after a unit on Shakespeare’s Henry V, or in a unit on history in literature.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Suits of Woe: Grief and Loss in Hamlet

    In this lesson, students will explore the themes of grief and loss in Hamlet using video from Shakespeare Uncovered. This lesson is best used during a reading of Hamlet.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Does Art Imitate Life?

    Writers are often told to “write what they know." This lesson will ask students to explore this idea using examples of great writers, with a particular focus on William Shakespeare. This lesson can be used during a study of Shakespeare, The Tempest, or in a unit focused on writers and writers' lives. The lesson is best used after students have examined the lives and works of several authors.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Artifacts of Shakespeare’s Time

    This media gallery contains a series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered that explore artifacts from Shakespeare’s time that many scholars believe Shakespeare himself may have referenced when researching for his plays. As you view the videos and complete the activities in this collection, examine the evidence presented to support this claim.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Gender Roles in Shakespeare

    This media gallery contains a series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered that highlight commonly held beliefs regarding gender roles and identity in society. As you view the videos and complete the activities, examine the ways in which women and men are presented in the plays and think about what motivates their actions--is it their individualism or their gender?

    Grades: 8-12
  • The Globe Theatre

    This media collection from Shakespeare Uncovered explores the origins, unique characteristics and challenges presented by the 17th century Globe Theatre. Students will take a glimpse into the world of Elizabethan theater by watching actors perform scenes from Shakespeare’s plays on the stage of Shakespeare’s Globe, a modern-day replica of the Globe Theatre located one hundred feet from the original. The videos will show how the Globe Theatre, with its rounded structure and open-air space, was perfectly made for Shakespeare’s style of storytelling and highly spirited Elizabethan audiences.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Hamlet with David Tennant

    David Tennant meets fellow actors who’ve taken on Hamlet and compares notes on how to play a character that's been played, probably, a million different ways in this Shakespeare Uncovered episode.

    Grades: 10-13+
  • Henry IV & V with Jeremy Irons

    He will give the devil his due. In this episode from Shakespeare Uncovered, Jeremy Irons researches Shakespeare’s history plays as well as the differences between the real history and the father-son drama that Shakespeare creates.

    Grades: 10-13+
  • In Shakespeare’s Time

    This series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered presents the practices and beliefs held by the Elizabethans during Shakespeare’s time. The gallery explores the ideas and attitudes of average people as well as monarchs regarding witchcraft and specifically addresses Elizabeth’s response to attacks upon the throne. Two videos delve into the serious beliefs surrounding suicide and ghosts. This gallery also explores Shakespeare’s sources for historical research, the topic of boys and men playing female roles, the role of theater in London and the idea that Shakespearian Theater was akin to big box office theater of our present day.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Interpreting Shakespeare

    This series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered explores the ways in which performers and directors have interpreted Shakespeare’s characters and plays differently over time. Students will explore how these differences reflect not only the personalities and techniques of the actors and directors who bring Shakespeare’s words to life on the stage, but their larger historical contexts and cultural sensibilities as well.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Loss in Shakespeare

    Using this media collection, students explore the theme of loss within Shakespeare's plays, particularly focusing on Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and Richard II. Whether it is loss of a loved one, loss of power, or loss of identity, students examine how Shakespeare’s characters cope with loss. Students also question whether or not Shakespeare’s own life (and loss) influenced his writing.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Macbeth with Ethan Hawke

    There's daggers in men's smiles. In this episode from Shakespeare Uncovered, Ethan Hawke takes you along as he researches the part of Shakespeare’s murderous Macbeth.

    Grades: 10-13+
  • Parent-Child Relationships in Shakespeare’s Works

    This series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered explores parent-child relationships in Henry IV and The Tempest. The videos explore the relationship between King Henry IV and his son Hal, highlighting how the King is at first disappointed with Hal and how their relationship evolves and strengthens. The segments from The Tempest highlight Miranda's "moment of disobedience," Prospero’s efforts to protect her, and how the parent-child dynamic changes when the lead role is played by a woman.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Richard II with Derek Jacobi

    You may my glories and my state depose, but not my griefs; still am I king of those. Derek Jacobi looks at Richard II and returns to a role he played 30 years ago: the story of a king who loses his crown.

    Grades: 10-13+
  • Royal Leadership in Shakespeare

    In this series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered, students will explore the historical subjects of William Shakespeare’s plays Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, the factual liberties he took in writing them, and the historical significance they have had over the centuries. The accompanying essay provides additional background on Shakespeare’s history plays, their immense popularity in Shakespeare’s time, and their continuing influence on how we understand history today.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Shakespeare and History

    In this series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered, students will explore the historical subjects of Shakespeare’s plays Richard II and Henry V, the factual liberties he took in writing them, and the historical significance they’d have had over the centuries. The accompanying essay provides additional background on Shakespeare’s history plays, their immense popularity in Shakespeare’s time, and their continuing influence on how we understand history today.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Shakespeare and the Evolution of Character

    This series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered explores the many ways Shakespeare showed the dramatic evolution of a character. This aspect of Shakespeare’s plays is specifically examined in Macbeth, The Tempest, and three history plays, Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, which chronicle the lives and journeys of successive kings of England beginning with Richard II. The videos show characters in inescapable positions forced to make decisions under mounting pressures. Several videos delve into the concept of the Divine Right of Kings and how it informs the actions and choices of both Richard II and Henry IV. In Henry V, Shakespeare creates a coming-of-age story in the character evolution of Prince Hal who began as a reckless young prince in Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2 and who now emerges as a very successful king of England.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Shakespeare’s Words and Phrases

    This series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered explores how Shakespeare uses language in his works. This gallery includes examples from Hamlet, Henry V, Macbeth, Richard II and The Tempest and features actors and scholars discussing and debating the meaning of Shakespeare’s words. The videos highlight the way in which different phrases can have varied meanings, and illustrate how Shakespeare’s words come to life when read aloud. The collection also includes a video segment that shows where Shakespeare gained inspiration for his writing and one that raises questions about what version of Hamlet contains Shakespeare’s original text.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Supernatural Elements in Shakespeare

    In this media collection, students explore the use of supernatural elements within William Shakespeare’s plays, focusing particularly on Macbeth, Hamlet, and The Tempest. Students examine supernatural beliefs during the 16th and 17th centuries, and they also identify how supernatural elements drive the plot of many of Shakespeare’s plays.

    Grades: 8-12
  • The Tempest with Trevor Nunn

    Hell is empty and all the devils are here. Trevor Nunn, acclaimed director of 30 of Shakespeare’s 37 plays, takes you through the otherworldly and supernatural The Tempest.

    Grades: 10-13+

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