~by Robert Miller
A new six-part public radio series, Shakespeare Is, will be broadcast nationwide in 2013. The series is being produced by two-time Peabody Award winner, Steve Rowland, (The Miles Davis Radio Project and Leonard Bernstein: An American Life) in conjunction with consulting producer David Chambers of the Yale School of Drama.. The series Web site will include a rich and detailed educational component. Developed by Timothy Gunn, former foundation executive and chair of Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media, and myself.
Steve Rowland has interviewed over 150 people steeped in the world of Shakespeare, including scholars, actors, directors, students, prison inmates and others. The series assumption is that the works of Shakespeare have taken on a universal nature – and are becoming more and more a standard basis for the discussion of life’s most vexing issues. These include religion, class, race, the role of women – as well as deeply human issues like power, love, warfare, betrayal, loyalty, and ambition. Shakespeare Is will be as much a program about society as it is about literature.
Until now, there has been no major documentary for television or radio that gives us a broad overview of Shakespeare’s works or the world of Shakespeare ‘now’: how Shakespeare is read, studied and performed, in the present. Shakespeare Is will do both.
The six programs will be not about Shakespeare the man, but about the world inhabited today by scores of exciting people who spend their lives performing, teaching and sharing the Bard’s works. With a careful blending of scholarly interviews, interviews with artists, rare archival material and new scenes recorded for this series, we will lay out some of the more important current thinking about Shakespeare and demonstrate how Shakespeare changes lives. The educational component will include hundreds of interviews from the series, archival scenes, and tutorials for educators, organized to help teachers enrich their lesson plans, and presented with attention to Common Core Standards.
The ShakespeareIs main Web site, www.ShakespeareIs.org is currently up and running. The education component is still growing, and we look forward to having even more to share.
Robert Miller is currently developing the Educational component and collected materials for Shakespeare Is, and was most recently director of educational publishing at WNET in New York. Shakespeare Is is an ongoing project produced by Steve Rowland and Dmae Roberts.