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Episode 22: Clare Asquith on Shakespeare and the Essex Rebellion

Many British historians will recognize the Essex Rebellion as a famous event, but less well known is the almost pivotal role in that uprising that was played by William Shakespeare. Robert Devereux was the 2nd Earl of Essex and was, in addition to being the Queen’s favorite, also one of Shakespeare’s most notable patrons. After a ghastly display of disrespect to the Queen in public, along with many grievances Essex felt towards Elizabeth I, he found himself appointed Lord Lieutenant of...


Episode #21: Swords of Shakespeare | An interview with Joseph David Martinez

When we see a Shakespeare play, we take for granted just how much work, and history, goes into staging the fight scenes. Whether it’s Hamlet and Laertes dueling it out, or the legions of armies storming the stage in the Battle of Agincourt, the fights that Shakespeare put on stage are the secret sauce that helps seal the deal on Shakespeare’s plays. Our guide this week into the real life of William Shakespeare is Joseph David Martinez. Joseph is a founding member and past president of the...


Episode #20: Intoxicants and Drunkenness in Shakespeare's England| Interview with Phil Withington

Whether it was beer, ale, tobacco, or other plant based stimulants, almost every man and woman in 16th century London from the brothel to the royal court had an opinion on, and often tried, intoxicants. Substances like tobacco, ale, beer, and even chocolate were being brought to England for the first time by explorers who were travelling to new worlds and returning with samples of new and exciting crops that grabbed hold of England’s collective attention, impact the economy and business...


Episode #19: Becoming Friends With Ben Jonson | An interview with Helen Ostovich

Rivals in life,and in legacy, Ben Jonson is a playwright who gave Shakespeare a run for his money. Some of Ben Jonson’s extravagancy on the stage and creativity as an artist is even said to have influenced how Shakespeare chose to stage some of his own plays, with the two men being linked in anecdote after anecdote when you study history. Obviously aquaintances, colleagues, and contemporaries, but was Ben Jonson friends with William Shakespeare? And what can we learn about the bard from our...


Episode #18: An Introduction to the Life and Work of Dr. John Hall, Shakespeare's Son in Law | An Interview with Sara Read

William Shakespeare’s oldest daughter, Susanna, married Dr. John Hall when she was 24 years old. John was a faithful son in law to William Shakespeare, and as a medical doctor in Stratford had a unique look at what it was like to live and work in a small town of the 16th century England. John Hall’s surviving case books help Shakespeare historians piece together many realities about Shakespeare’s life, not the least of which is some of the medicinal herbs and treatments the bard and his...


Episode #17: Dogs, Cats, Monkeys, and the pets of Shakespeare's England | An interview with Jennifer Jorm

In Shakespeare’s play, Two Gentlemen of Verona, one character has a pet dog. The dog’s name is Crab. The part in the play is very small, but remains included by Shakespeare, which leads to some interesting questions about animals and their role in Shakespeare’s history. He must have included Crab strategically, but why? Animals in history are connected mostly to farming, agriculture, and perhaps display by royalty to demonstrate their vast exploits into trade and international travel....


Episode #16: Stepping inside The Globe to See a Play Might Surprise You, An Interview with Richard Dutton

We take it for granted that Shakespeare's theater was similar to ours, when in fact, the experience of stepping inside The Globe or other Elizabethan playhouses was quite different for Shakespeare than for us today. To take us behind the curtain and explore the inside of The Globe theater, Richard Dutton is our guide today, helping explore the sights, sounds, and smells inside a real Elizabethan theater. Richard Dutton is a specialist in the theater of William Shakespeare, having...


Episode #15: Did Shakespeare Really Wear Those Poofy Shorts? An Interview with Historical Costumer, Ninya Mikhaila

Shakespeare is often portrayed wearing bright purple poofy pumpkin pants, characteristic both of the time period and our impression of William. Today, Ninya Mikhaila, a professional historical costumer, joins us to share her experiences of recreating 17th century clothing, and tell us all about how William Shakespeare would have dressed.


Episode #14: Interview with Douglas Bruster about how Shakespeare promoted his plays in the 16th century

Douglas joins us today to discuss marketing in the 16th century. With new plays performed as often as every afternoon, and a large portion of his target audience being illiterate, how did Shakespeare fill seats and manage to sell enough tickets to stay in business? Douglas Bruster is a professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. His research centers on Shakespeare, drama, and literary history. His discoveries have been featured in such venues as The New York Times and...


Episode #13: Interview with Barbara Traister exploring astrology, doctors, herbs, and witches in Shakespeare's England

Barbara Traister is the author of The Notorious Astrological Physician of London, and Heavenly Necromancers: The Magician in English Renaissance Drama, as well as former Professor of English at Lehigh University. She joins us today to look at some of Shakespeare’s examples of medicine depicted in his plays and explore where Shakespeare got it right, and some of the hidden messages we can discover in the text by understanding the realities of astrology and 17th century medicine. In this...


Episode #012: Interview With Glyn Jones, Head of Gardens at Shakespeare Birthplace Trust: Did Shakespeare Have a Garden?

Glyn Jones joins us today to talk about kitchen gardens and estate gardens that impacted Shakespeare. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust maintains 5 gardens thought to have been part of William Shakespeare’s home in Stratford and today Glyn Jones is going to help us explore whether or not Shakespeare had a garden himself, what purpose a garden might have served a playwright, and what sort of things would have been planted there. In this episode, I ask Glyn about: - Why would a playwright own...


Episode #011: Literature Versus Theater | An Interview About Shakespeare with Nigel Wood

Does William Shakespeare belong in the theater and not the literature department? Nigel Wood is a Professor of Literature at Loughborough University, specializing in early modern literature and the staging of dramatic texts. He joins us today to discuss the evolution of Shakespeare's plays as a result of reading what was intended to be performed. I will be asking Nigel about the significance of stage directions in addition to the written dialogue, and what impact Condell and Heminges'...


Episode #010: Interview with Hazel Forsyth about finding Shakespearean Shoes at The Rose Theater

Hazel Forsyth, Senior Curator of the Medieval and Post-Medieval Collections at the Museum of London, joins us today to discuss a 2009 archeological find done by the Museum of London where they discovered, among other evidence of theater life in the 17th century, a set of period shoes near the site of the old Rose Theater, dating to within Shakespeare's lifetime. While the shoes themselves have now been moved into the archives at the Museum of London, at the time they were displayed they were...


Episode 009: Grace Tiffany shares with us the inside life of Shakespeare's Second Daughter, Judith Quiney

Grace Tiffany is a successful novelist, author, and professor of Shakespeare at Western Michigan University. Her first novel, My Father Had a Daughter, was published in 2003, and is a fictional tale about the life of Shakespeare’s second daughter Judith. While fictional, the book brings the historical facts about Judith Quiney to life on the pages of her book. Since her debut novel, Grace has completed 6 historical novels set in the Renaissance or Middle Ages and her work focuses primarily...


Episode 008: Interview with Ben Crystal about Original Practice Shakespeare

Today’s guest knows better than most that when you study Shakespeare, you almost synonymously study 17th century theater. Ben Crystal is an actor, writer, producer, adventurer & explorer of original practices in Shakespeare, and was the Artistic Director at Passion in Practice, an original practice based theatre company specializing in performances that rework the speech, rehearsal techniques, and performance methods of Shakespeare’s theatre. He joins us today to discuss original...


Episode 007: Interview with David Bevington on the state of Catholic vs Protestant in England during Shakespeare's lifetime

Called "One of the most learned and devoted of Shakespeareans," by Harold Bloom, Dr. David Bevington is an American literary scholar who specializes in British drama of the Renaissance, and has edited and introduced the complete works of William Shakespeare in both the 29-volume, Bantam Classics paperback editions and the single-volume Longman edition. Dr. Bevington remains the only living scholar to have personally edited Shakespeare's complete corpus." He will be talking with us about...


Episode 006: Interview with author Pauline Montagna about the life of Edward Alleyn, rival actor in Elizabethan England

In this week's episode, we talk with Pauline Montagna about the focus of an entire chapter in her latest book, Not Wisely But Too Well which makes the claim that Edward Alleyn, and not Shakespeare, was the upstart crow insulted famously by Robert Greene. Alleyn was a rival actr competing in the 16th century with Richard Burbage, Shakespeare's lead performer. Pauline joins us today to unpack her research into this controversial idea and share her argument in favor of Edward Alleyn. In this...


Episode 005: Interview with Dr. Paul Menzer, about the role of witches, magic, and superstition in Shakespeare

Whenever Shakespeare’s plays are performed, there are always legends and stories which come up right along with them. We have Macbeth and the Scottish Play, as well as Romeo and Juliet and the famous misconstrued couplet in the final scene. Over the years, some of these stories have grown into famous anecdotes that no one is really sure where they started. No one, at least, except Paul Menzer. This week at That Shakespeare Life, we are going to sit down with Paul Menzer, professor at Mary...


Episode 004: Dr. Bart Van Es talks Richard Burbage, Theater Royalty, and The Original Owner of The Globe

In this episode I ask Dr. Bart Van Es, author, historian, and Professor in English at the University of Oxford, about Richard Burbage. We explore the life of Richard Burbage, Shakespeare’s leading actor and the first man to play the roles of Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear. You'll learn about what Richard Burbage looked like, his family, his hobbies, and how it was he and his father who really gave Shakespeare the foundation he needed to stand on when building a powerful career.


Episode #003: Jem Bloomfield Talks Shakespeare and The King James Bible

Jem Bloomfield is an author, blogger, and Assistant Professor of Literature at the University of Nottingham. His research ranges across Shakespeare, gender, performance and the Bible, with a particular focus on the ways texts are used to focus cultural authority. Dr. Bloomfield’s work has been cited in The Guardian, The New Statesmen, and Contemporary Theater Review. His latest book is titled Shakespeare and the Psalms: Did Shakespeare Help Write the King James Bible? He is here today to...