Much Ado About Shakespeare

A series of podcasts exploring our enduring fascination with Shakespeare.

The Telegraph Much Ado About ShakespeareIn 2018, The Telegraph Arts Editor Ben Lawrence introduced a series of podcasts that explored our undying fascination with the greatest playwright in the world.

The podcasts went behind the scenes of our Summer 2018 productions and heard discussions about topics that are as relevant now as they were in Shakespeare’s day.

You can listen to or download the podcasts via the links below, The Telegraph website or your regular podcast provider.



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Series podcasts

  • Introduction

    The Telegraph Arts Editor Ben Lawrence introduces Much Ado About Shakespeare

    Listen to the introduction

  • Macbeth

    Macbeth, featuring discussion on women in Macbeth with Polly Findlay (Director, Macbeth, 2018) and Dr Emma Smith (Professor at the University of Oxford), plus behind-the-scenes access (three episodes, available from 5 March).

    • Episode 1 - goes behind the scenes in the rehearsal room with Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack

      Listen to episode 1

    • Episode 2 - featuring director Polly Findlay in discussion with Dr Emma Smith about women in Macbeth

      Listen to episode 2

    • Episode 3 - Horrible Histories creator Terry Deary uncovers the mysterious curse of Macbeth

      Listen to episode 3

  • Shakespeare: 21st Century Playwright - Live recorded panel discussion

    Panel discussion with Ben Lawrence (The Telegraph Arts Editor), Gregory Doran (RSC Artistic Director) Tracy Chevalier (author of New Boy) and Iqbal Khan (director of Antony and Cleopatra, 2017), recorded live at The Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon.

    Listen to episode 4

  • Romeo and Juliet

    Romeo and Juliet, featuring discussions on violence and young people with Erica Whyman (RSC Deputy Artistic Director and Director for Romeo and Juliet, 2018), plus behind-the-scenes access (available May).
    • Episode 5 - The Telegraph's Ben Lawrence goes behind the scenes of Romeo and Juliet and talks to Director Erica Whyman and several members of the cast - Raphael Sowole (Tybalt), Charlotte Josephine (Mercutio), Josh Finan (Benvolio) and Bally Gill (Romeo).

      Listen to episode 5

    • Episode 6  - featuring Ben Lawrence who chairs a debate with Erica Whyman and Emma Whipday, Leverhulme early career fellow at University College London, about how the play addresses violence.

      Listen to episode 6

    • Episode 7 - The Telegraph film critic Tim Robey shares his love of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet - perhaps the greatest cinematic take on this most adapted of plays. 

      Listen to episode 7

  • Shakespeare's Women

    The latest in our Much Ado About Shakespeare podcast series we look at Shakespeare's Women. Did he silence them or did he give them a strong and distinctive voice that was ahead of its time?

    • Episode 8 - In interviews chaired by The Telegraph arts writer Claire Allfree, Shakespeare’s treatment of some of the female characters in his plays is explored with three leading women in theatre. Actresses Sylvestra Le Touzel and Debbie Korley discuss their experiences of having played some of these key roles including Ophelia, Regan and Lady Percy, while Nancy Meckler talks about how she tackled directing some of these roles in her productions both for the RSC and elsewhere.

      Listen to episode 8
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor

    • Episode 9 - Behind the scenesThe Telegraph’s Ben Lawrence is in Stratford-upon-Avon to attend rehearsals of Fiona Laird's new production of Shakespeare’s knockabout comedy. Laird and her Merry Wives - Rebecca Lacey and Beth Cordingly - discuss the antics of the play, what it says about the very English preoccupation with social class and the effect of transferring the action from well-heeled Royal Berkshire to nouveau riche metropolitan Essex.

      Listen to Episode 9

    • Episode 10 - Is Shakespeare funny?The Telegraph’s Ben Lawrence is joined by Fiona Laird, director of the new production of The Merry Wives of Windsor in Stratford-upon-Avon and Professor Helen Barr of the University of Oxford, in a discussion about Shakespearean comedy. What are the challenges of bringing archaic jokes to a modern audience? How do you find the humour in such a troubling work as The Taming of the Shrew? And what is the difference between a clown and a fool?

      Listen to Episode 10
  • Troilus and Cressida

    This is one of Shakespeare's most complex and fascinating plays, a version of events leading up to the death of Hector in the Trojan War but so much more, raising issues about self-image and self-worth, the disappointment of love and the frailty of human nature. This new production, with music by acclaimed percussionist Evelyn Glennie, has a 50/50 gender split cast.

    • Episode 11 - Behind the scenes of Troilus and Cressida - The Telegraph's Ben Lawrence goes behind the scenes of the new production. Ben talks to Gregory Doran,

      Artistic Director of the RSC, and to the two actors playing its title characters, Gavin Fowler and Amber James.

      Listen to episode 11

    • Episode 12 - Fear and loathing in ancient Troy - The Telegraph's Ben Lawrence is in conversation with Gregory Doran, Troilus and Cressida is a problem play in more ways than one. Its tone veers wildly between comedy and tragedy and there are no easy resolutions. But it is also a dazzling work with Shakespeare being more truthful and cynical about the human condition than at any other stage in his career. 

      Listen to episode 12

  • Timon of Athens

    • Episode 13 - Behind the scenes of Timon of Athens - the Telegraph’s Ben Lawrence discusses Simon Godwin's new production of Timon of Athens. It's a lesser-performed work but one which is never less than bitingly relevant in its analysis of the corrosive effects of money.

      In this latest production, Godwin transfers the action to modern-day Greece, a country which has played a prominent role in the financial crisis. Ben talks to Kathryn Hunter who is playing the title role, a character whose generosity proves to be her undoing. 

      Listen to episode 13
    • Episode 14 - Wealth and power - The Telegraph's Ben Lawrence talks to Simon Godwin and to Dr Sarah Dustagheer, senior lecturer in early modern literature at the University of Kent, about wealth and its effect on our personality; what it teaches us about the nature of friendship and how the play's cynicism can perhaps be traced to the state of Shakespeare's England at the start of the 17th century.

      Listen to episode 14