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 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
  • 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
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Side of Shakespeare’s Characters

    This series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered examines the ways Shakespeare’s characters struggle with moral and ethical dilemmas. Including examples from The Tempest, Hamlet, Macbeth and Henry IV, Part One, this media gallery highlights how Shakespeare’s works depict the complexity of human nature through characters who are not purely good or purely evil but are capable of both at different times. The collection explores how the dark side of human nature emerges in even the most idyllic settings, examines the concept of honor, and questions where an individual’s evil comes from.

    Grades: 8-12
  • The Use of Soliloquy

    In this series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered, students explore the use of soliloquy as a device to reveal character and advance plot. They consider how using soliloquy perhaps more truthfully exposes character than other devices like dialogue. In addition, students focus particularly on the famous soliloquy in Hamlet, "To be or not to be," and discuss how and why the topics of his speech are best explored through soliloquy.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Women, Identity and Disguise in Shakespeare’s Comedies

    In this media gallery, you will find a series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered that offer insight into how Shakespeare represented women in Twelfth Night and As You Like It, and how he played with identity and disguise for comedic effect. As you view the videos and complete the activities, think about the role of women in the plays and consider how they are both empowered and restricted.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Shakespeare: The Intersection of Art & Life Timeline

    Discover major events in William Shakespeare’s life through The Intersection of Art and Life, an interactive timeline. The timeline spans from Shakespeare’s birth in 1564 to the post-mortem publication of his First Folio in 1624. Explore the impact of personal events on the poet and playwright’s masterpieces and watch segments from film adaptations of his plays.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Shakespeare Uncovered: On Air, Online, and in the Classroom | Shakespeare Uncovered

    View an online interactive workshop presented by WNET New York Public Media and hosted by the Amazing Resources for Educators community at edweb.net, sponsored by Big Deal Media. The workshop highlights Shakespeare Uncovered and the accompanying free online educational resources.

    Shakespeare Uncovered executive producer Stephen Segaller provides an overview of the series, and WNET outreach producer Janice Fuld showcases the free educational resources developed to bring the series — and Shakespeare — to life in the classroom. The session includes viewing and discussion of video from the series, an overview of the robust companion website, and a discussion of strategies for exploring the series and related content with high school students.

    Grades: 13+
  • EDSITEment Shakespeare | Shakespeare Uncovered

    EDSITEment, a partnership among the National Endowment for the Humanities, Verizon Foundation, and the National Trust for the Humanities, offers a treasure trove of K-12 high-quality material on the Internet in the subject areas of Literature and Language Arts, Foreign Languages, Art and Culture, and History and Social Studies.

    Grades: 13+
  • Lear and Cordelia | Shakespeare Uncovered

    Use these videos about King Lear to explore the conflict and resolution between father and daughter in the play. This lesson is best used during or after a reading of King Lear. Using video, text, graphic organizers, and text-dependent discussion questions, students will learn about the play's ever-changing family dynamic.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The King and the Fool | Shakespeare Uncovered

    This Shakespeare Uncovered media gallery explores the relationship between King Lear and his unnamed Fool. This lesson is best used during or after a reading of King Lear. Using video, text, graphic organizers, and text-dependent discussion questions, students will learn about the historical role of the Fool in medieval courts and explore how the relationship between Lear and the Fool evolves.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Puck | Shakespeare Uncovered

    This video resource from Shakespeare Uncovered explores the character of Puck (also known as Robin Goodfellow) and how he impacts the play A Midsummer Night's Dream. Using video, graphic organizers, and text-dependent discussion questions, students will learn the origins of Puck while examining different interpretations of the character and how he moves the plot forward.

    Grades: 5-9
  • The Many Plots of A Midsummer Night's Dream | Shakespeare Uncovered

    This media gallery from Shakespeare Uncovered will help your students understand the many plots in A Midsummer Night's Dream, how they move the play forward, and how they are intertwined. Videos, text-dependent questions, and graphic organizers will highlight what students need to know about the play's Athenian court as well as its lovers, fairies, and rude "mechanicals."

    Grades: 5-9
  • Who Is Othello? | Shakespeare Uncovered

    Use this video to explore who Othello is and learn about the historical figure who possibly inspired William Shakespeare to create the character. This activity is best used during or after a reading of Othello. Using video, text, a primary source document, graphic organizers, an in-class debate, and text-dependent discussion questions, students will learn how England in Shakespeare's time understood different cultures and explore what it means to be an outsider.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Casting Othello: Why is racism part of the play's history? | Shakespeare Uncovered

    This media gallery from Shakespeare Uncovered examines how racism has impacted Othello throughout its history and how the public has reacted to various portrayals of the title character. Students will watch video segments, answer text-dependent questions, and complete classroom activities exploring race, racism, and important historical figures.

    Grades: 9,11-12
  • King Lear with Christopher Plummer

    In this episode from Shakespeare Uncovered, Christopher Plummer is your guide through King Lear--one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragic roles.

    Grades: 9-12
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Hugh Bonneville

    Hugh Bonneville explores the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream in this episode from Shakespeare Uncovered.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Othello with David Harewood

    Having played Othello at London's National Theatre, David Harewood returns to the play to discover how the centuries have changed our views of it in this episode from Shakespeare Uncovered.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Love at First Sonnet: Romeo and Juliet Meet | Shakespeare Uncovered

    Use this video to look at how the lovers begin "talking in sonnets" when they meet and how their language of martyrdom predicts their tragic love affair. This lesson is best used during or after a reading of Act I, Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet. Using video, text, graphic organizers, and text-dependent discussion questions, students will learn how the shared sonnet provides both an introduction to Romeo and Juliet's love story and a road map for the tragedy to come.

    Grades: 8-10
  • The Balcony Scene | Shakespeare Uncovered

    This video from Shakespeare Uncovered explores the famous balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet. Students will examine the dialogue, learn what it really means, and decide which character is driving the scene — and the play — forward.

    Grades: 8-10
  • Shakespeare Uncovered Viewing Guide, Series 2 | Shakespeare Uncovered

    This viewing guide designed for professional development for teachers offers a synopsis of each film in the series, important takeaways, and questions for discussion.

    Grades: 13+

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