We’re sad that we can’t present the Bard on our Festival stages this summer, but you can still look to digital spaces to find some great Shakespeare entertainment. We’re ready to guide you to the best of it, from close to home and around the world, with our new feature: Bard’s Guide to Shakespeare Online. It’s a curated list of Shakespeare-related content you’ll love – from live-streamed plays to podcasts and more – all in one convenient location.
For timely browsing, the events and performances that are happening soonest are at the top of the list. And be sure to check this space regularly, as we’ll be updating the schedule with links to fresh content.
Tip: Keep an eye out for the option to set virtual reminders, to make sure you don’t miss anything!
WHAT TO WATCH
The famous Globe is releasing one play every two weeks to watch for free on their YouTube channel for a limited time. If you want access to more, you can sign up for Globe Player and rent a play from their library for approximately $8 CDN for 7 days.
WHAT: The Merry Wives of Windsor (2019)
WHEN: June 1 to June 14
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes
ABOUT: The Merry Wives of Windsor is the only comedy that Shakespeare set in his native land. Drawing influences from British 1930s fashion, music and dance, the production will celebrate women, the power and beauty of nature, and with its witty mix of verbal and physical humour, it rejoices in a tradition that reaches right down to the contemporary English sitcom. The Windsor Locals appear courtesy of Soldiers’ Arts Academy, London Bubble and Clean Break.
Imagining that Mistress Ford and Mistress Page have each fallen for him, the fat knight Sir John Falstaff decides to seduce them both, as much for their husbands’ money as for their personal charms. Wise to the old rogue’s tricks, the women turn the tables on him with a series of humiliating assignations and a very damp, extremely smelly laundry basket.
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2013), June 15-28
Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Our friends at Stratford in Ontario are HD streaming 12 Shakespeare plays for free on CBC Gem. All 12 plays are available for viewing anytime, however there are a few ads. If you’d prefer to skip the ads or want to join in on a preshow and live viewing party, they will also be releasing one film every Thursday to their YouTube channel for free for a limited time here. (YouTube viewing schedule below)
WHAT: Stratford Presents—The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, King Lear, Hamlet, Antony & Cleopatra, King John, The Adventures of Pericles, Macbeth, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Romeo & Juliet, Timon of Athens and Coriolanus.
National Theatre Home
The National Theatre in London is offering free world-class theatre online, while their stages are dark. Join others in conversation while watching the stream premieres on YouTube!
WHEN: June 5 to June 11
Running time: 3 hours with a very short interval
ABOUT: Tom Hiddleston (Betrayal, The Avengers, The Night Manager) plays the title role in Shakespeare’s searing tragedy of political manipulation and revenge.
Public Broadcasting Service
PBS has made a variety of Great Performances available online for free, including Rupert Goold’s Macbeth starring Sir Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood.
Running time: 2 hrs and 38 mins
ABOUT: Following a London West End run in December 2007, a sold-out limited engagement at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in March 2008, and a subsequent eight-week run on Broadway, director Rupert Goold’s gripping stage production of Shakepeare’s Macbeth was filmed for television at the end of 2009. Patrick Stewart in his triumphant, Tony-nominated performance as the ambitious general, and Tony-nominated Kate Fleetwood as his coldly scheming wife. On March 31, 2011, this Macbeth production was the proud recipient of a George Foster Peabody Award.
BBC’s Shakespeare Collection
BritBox, the North American subscription streaming service devoted to British shows, just launched the full collection of BBC productions of Shakespeare’s plays. It will be the first time all 37 adaptations will be available to stream in one place! A list of the complete collection can be found here.
WHAT: On-demand access to BBC’s Shakespeare collection
COST: FREE with 7-day trial or $8.99 monthly
Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
Curious about exploring Hamlet in an immersive way? This adaptation casts the viewer as the Ghost of Hamlet’s dead father using a 360-degree view. It’s best enjoyed while using a Virtual Reality headset, but also viewable without one. The viewer can move around the set during the whole 60-minutes using the directional arrows or by clicking on and dragging the screen.
WHAT: Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit
Running time: 60 minutes
Royal Shakespeare Company
The RSC has made various scenes from their plays available on YouTube. We recommend these for educational uses or for those that don’t have time to watch a full play! All of the clips range from 1-5 minutes in length.
WHAT: Short clips from past productions
You can access tons of top notch content from the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female, prison-set Shakespeare Trilogy featuring Julius Caesar, Henry IV and The Tempest, as recommended by Vancouver-based theatre critic Colin Thomas. Although this is a subscription service—there is a limited time offer for a 14-day free trial. It requires credit card information, so make sure to set a reminder to cancel before it charges you! And if you do want to continue, the cost is $10.99 monthly – and you’ll be supporting the RSC.
WHAT: On-demand access to critically acclaimed theatre performances
COST: FREE with 14-day trial or $10.99 monthly
The Show Must Go Online
This online project was created by actor-writer-filmmaker Robert Myles in less than a week in response to COVID-19, as a source of comfort for those in hardship and isolation. You can either tune in for the live streams every Wednesday or watch recordings anytime after. Our very own Front of House Manager and YSW alumni Matthew Rhodes played Chiron in Titus Andronicus.
WHAT: Weekly live readings of the Complete Plays of Shakespeare by a global cast, including professionals and amateurs, presented in the order they are believed to have been written.
WHEN: LIVE Wednesdays at 11am PST or watch recordings anytime
Watch actors and fans perform Shakespeare from their living rooms—each performing a one-minute segment to complete a whole play! We love these videos because they show everyone getting creative from the confinements of home.
WHAT: Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Titus Andronicus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream & Henry V
WHEN: Pre-recordings can be watched anytime
- Much Ado About Nothing
- The Winter’s Tale
A Sonnet A Day
Actor Patrick Stewart is posting #ASonnetADay to his Twitter account and the videos are rather soothing! We love that he sometimes includes bits of personal commentary and history with the sonnet.
WHAT: Sonnet readings from actor Patrick Stewart
The Royal Shakespeare Company has their artists, including actors David Tennant and David Bradley, answering your questions about plays, speeches, lines, directing and more! They will be posting new videos and answering questions up until May 23.
Illustrated Shakespeare Colouring Book
Have a printer at home? This free Victorian colouring book by Michael John Goodman is perfect for both kids and adults! It features images taken from The Plays of William Shakespeare.
WHAT: Shakespeare colouring book
9 Virtual Tours of Shakespearean Spots
Virtually visit iconic places from Shakespeare’s life and locations that are believed to have inspired him, via Google Arts and Culture.
WHAT: Virtual tour
The Shakespeare App
This app was featured in the New York Times and offers play texts, poems and sonnets, with additional study materials and breakdowns. It’s available in both a free version and a paid version which has more features. A great tool for those studying Shakespeare or simply wanting to have easy access to his works.
WHAT: Educational Shakespeare app
COST: FREE or $9.99 for the pro version
Shakespeare Insults Generator
Have a little fun with language! This generator will create unique insults for you by selecting Shakespearean words at random.
Folger Shakespeare Library
Did you know that the full texts of Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets, and poems are available for free from the Folger Shakespeare Library? The Library is also offering free audio recordings of some of the plays until July 1, 2020. Pssst – if you don’t want to read alone, then check out the Shakespeare 2020 Project below.
WHAT: Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets and poems
Shakespeare 2020 Project
Check out the Shakespeare Reading challenge started by Ian Doescher—author of the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars trilogy series (we sell these books in our Bard boutique!). He set a personal challenge to read the entire Folger’s Shakespeare Library editions of the plays and poems, and invites anyone interested to join in! We love this project because they are also posting photos, videos, artwork, and discussions about Shakespeare in 2020.
WHAT: Shakespeare reading challenge
WHEN: See full schedule here
- Cymbeline: June 11-18
- King Lear: June 22-30
- A Lover’s Complaint: July 2
Are you a podcast person? This BBC Radio 3 podcast is your one-stop shop for all things Shakespeare. It’s updated occasionally and available to listen to anytime.
WHAT: Shakespeare podcast
Shakespeare Unlimited Podcast
In the Folger’s Shakespeare Unlimited podcast, Shakespeare opens a window into topics ranging from the American West, to the real history of Elizabethan street fighting, to interviews with Shakespearean stars. There are no limits to the discussions of Shakespeare, his works and their connection to our world.
Currently Amazon Audible is offering a selection of free audio books of Literary Classics including Romeo & Juliet, The Tempest and Paradise Lost. There is no signup required—simply head to the link, select your book and start listening!
Have any great Shakespeare resources or content that you’d like to share with us? Tell us in the comments!