Shakespeare Uncovered

Shakespeare Uncovered


Shakespeare Uncovered combines history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis, and the personal passions of its celebrated hosts to tell the stories behind the stories of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.

The Series 2 resources (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, and Othello) were created in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library.

The resources for the first series (Macbeth, the comedies Twelfth Night and As You Like It, Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V, Hamlet and The Tempest ) were created in collaboration with an advisory board comprised of high school educators and Shakespearean scholars.

For more Shakespeare resources, visit The Hollow Crown: Shakespeare's History Plays.

O this learning, what a thing it is!

  • Supernatural Shakespeare and Macbeth | Shakespeare Uncovered

    In this lesson from Shakespeare Uncovered, students will explore how William Shakespeare uses supernatural elements in Macbeth. (This lesson is best used during a reading of Macbeth.)

    Grades: 9-13+
  • "Speak, I Charge You": Macbeth on Your Feet, Not in Your Seat | Shakespeare Uncovered

    This lesson explores the validity of a statement that Oscar-nominated actor Ethan Hawke (Boyhood, Training Day) makes in the Macbeth episode of Shakespeare Uncovered: "There's always a certain magic that happens when you start to say the lines [from a Shakespeare play] out loud that you can't anticipate. It feels like a spell." (This lesson is designed to be used as part of a unit on Macbeth. The Introductory Activity could be used as a prereading exercise to introduce performance at the beginning of the unit.)

    Grades: 9-13+
  • The Role of Women in As You Like It | Shakespeare Uncovered

    In this lesson from Shakespeare Uncovered, students will explore the role of women in William Shakespeare's comedy As You Like It. (This lesson is best used during a reading of the play.)

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Merely Players | Shakespeare Uncovered

    In this lesson, students will view and discuss several video segments from Shakespeare Uncovered to explore one of the playwright's signature dramatic elements, the use of role-playing and disguise. (This lesson has been designed as a prereading activity for a unit on one of Shakespeare's comedies or on Henry IV, Part I. It can also be used as a stand-alone lesson allowing students to explore Shakespeare's art and craft.)

    Grades: 9-13+
  • All the Globe's a Stage: Shakespeare's Theater | Shakespeare Uncovered

    In this lesson from Shakespeare Uncovered, students will develop their understanding of how William Shakespeare's plays were influenced by the physical space in which they were originally produced, the Globe Theatre. (This lesson is best used as an introduction to, or during the reading of, any play by Shakespeare.)

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Henry IV, Part I: Does Father Know Best? | Shakespeare Uncovered

    In this lesson from Shakespeare Uncovered, students will examine the relationships between parents and children in Henry IV, Part I. (This lesson is best used after reading act 3, scene 2, of Henry IV, Part I or after reading the entire play.)

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Talking to Myself | Shakespeare Uncovered

    In this lesson from Shakespeare Uncovered, students will examine William Shakespeare's use of soliloquies in Hamlet, focusing on the famous "To be or not to be" speech. (This lesson is best used during or after a reading of Hamlet.)

    Grades: 9-13+
  • War and Leadership in Shakespeare's Henry V | Shakespeare Uncovered

    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 Henry V or a unit on history in literature.)

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

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

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Does Art Imitate Life? | Shakespeare Uncovered

    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. (It can be used during a study of Shakespeare's The Tempest or in a unit focused on writers and their lives. The lesson is best used after students have examined the lives and works of several authors.)

    Grades: 9-13+
  • 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
  • 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 both average people and monarchs regarding witchcraft and specifically addresses Queen Elizabeth’s response to attacks on 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 today.

    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
  • 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
  • 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: 7-12
  • 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

Contributor: Folger Shakespeare Library
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