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!

  • Romeo and Juliet with Joseph Fiennes | Shakespeare Uncovered

    Joseph Fiennes has a unique perspective on Romeo and Juliet, having played William Shakespeare, and Shakespeare as Romeo, in the Oscar-winning film Shakespeare in Love (1998). In this episode of Shakespeare Uncovered, the actor examines why Romeo and Juliet remains the most frequently performed of all of Shakespeare's plays.

    Grades: 8-13+
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Love Potion | Shakespeare Uncovered

    This media gallery from Shakespeare Uncovered examines how and why the love potion is used in William Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream. Students will learn what inspired Shakespeare to incorporate the love potion into the play and how it impacts the plot and dialogue.

    Grades: 6-9
  • Gloucester and His Sons: King Lear's Subplot | Shakespeare Uncovered

    This video from Shakespeare Uncovered explores the subplot of King Lear, diving into the family dynamics of the Earl of Gloucester and the infamous blinding scene. The video and accompanying classroom materials are best used during or after a reading of King Lear. Using video, text, graphic organizers, and text-dependent discussion questions, students will come to understand the significance of the play's subplot and its eye imagery.

    Grades: 9-12
  • King Lear: Who Is the Man Without His Crown? | Shakespeare Uncovered

    These videos from Shakespeare Uncovered examine how identity becomes a driving theme in King Lear after the title character gives up his crown. 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 come to understand how Lear's fragile sense of identity evolves over the course of the play.

    Grades: 9-12
  • "Blow, Winds, and Crack Your Cheeks!": Staging King Lear’s Storm | Shakespeare Uncovered

    This video from Shakespeare Uncovered explores the famous storm scene in King Lear, with a focus on how it's staged. The video and accompanying support materials are best used during or after a reading of King Lear. Using video, text, graphic organizers, and text-dependent discussion questions, students will come to understand the significance of the storm and how various stagings of it impact the character of King Lear.

    Grades: 9-12
  • And They All Lived Happily Ever After: King Lear's Alternate Ending | Shakespeare Uncovered

    This video from Shakespeare Uncovered explores an alternate ending to King Lear written by Nahum Tate in 1681, which ends with Lear regaining his throne and Cordelia marrying Edgar. The video and accompanying support materials are best used after reading King Lear. Using video, text, graphic organizers, and text-dependent discussion questions, students will see Globe Theatre actors present this alternate ending and debate whether or not the deaths of Lear and Cordelia are necessary to the play's overall message.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Deaths of Romeo and Juliet | Shakespeare Uncovered

    In this lesson from Shakespeare Uncovered dive deeper into the "if only" moments that result in the suicides of Romeo and Juliet. This lesson is best used during or after reading Act V, Scene 3 of Romeo and Juliet. Using video, text, graphic organizers, and text-dependent discussion questions, students will examine the language used during the young lovers' death scene and consider the role of fate in their deaths.

    Grades: 8-10
  • The Inspiration for Romeo and Juliet | Shakespeare Uncovered

    In this lesson from Shakespeare Uncovered, learn about the Arthur Brooke poem that inspired William Shakespeare to write Romeo and Juliet. This lesson is best used during or after a reading of Romeo and Juliet. Using video, text, graphic organizers, and text-dependent discussion questions, students will see Globe Theatre actors perform scenes from the Brooke poem to help them understand Shakespeare's creative inspiration.

    Grades: 8-10
  • Mercutio: Comedic Relief and Dramatic Death | Shakespeare Uncovered

    Use these videos from Shakespeare Uncovered to explore the character of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. This activity is best used during or after a reading of Romeo and Juliet. Using video, text, graphic organizers, and text-dependent discussion questions, students will learn about Mercutio's role as a comedic foil to Romeo and how his death marks a turning point in the play.

    Grades: 8-10
  • Romeo and Juliet: Teens Act It Out

    Use these videos to show how modern teenagers can practice and connect with the language of Romeo and Juliet in this lesson from Folger Shakespeare Library and Shakespeare Uncovered. This lesson is best used before a reading of Romeo and Juliet. Using video, text, graphic organizers and text-dependent discussion questions, use these teaching tips from the Folger Shakespeare Library to get teens acting out Shakespeare.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Iago: The Ultimate Villain

    This video from Shakespeare Uncovered examines the character of Iago and how he drives the plot of Othello. In this video, learn about Iago’s motivation to destroy Othello, explore why he’s a successful villain and examine the language he uses to manipulate Othello.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Othello's Vulnerability

    Othello is often thought of as a strong military man, but this video from Shakespeare Uncovered reveals the softer, more vulnerable side of the man. Students will watch video, analyze text and discuss how his emotional side set the play down its tragic path.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Handkerchief

    In this video from Shakespeare Uncovered, learn about how a small piece of cloth-a handkerchief-sets the tragedy of Othello in motion. Through lies, deceit and backchannels, Iago implicates Desdemona in an adulterous affair by stealing her handkerchief and planting it with Othello’s friend Cassio.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Desdemona

    Learn about Othello's wife Desdemona in this video from Shakespeare Uncovered. Using video, text and graphic organizers, students will analyze Desdemona's point of view and how she changed throughout the course of the play.

    Grades: 9-12

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