Shakespeare in stained glass at the Chateau Impney Hotel

Morgan Freeman, Kim Cattrall, Joseph Fiennes, Hugh Bonneville, David Harewood, and Christopher Plummer will explore their passion for the world’s greatest dramatist and his works in My Shakespeare, a new series for Sky Arts 1 created in partnership with The Open University.

“It’s easy to see why the acclaimed stars in this series have such a passion for William Shakespeare. It’s such an honour to be able to bring his work to life on Sky Arts especially for our customers, who, like audiences in theatres around the world, crave insight into the plays created by a total genius.” – Phil Edgar-Jones, Sky Arts Director

In each hour long episode, one star will explore an iconic work by William Shakespeare, revealing their personal connection to the work and how it has shaped them professionally. They embark on a journey to find out how their chosen play was written, as well as meeting actors, historians, and directors to understand how the plays have been performed and developed over time. They aim to find out where Shakespeare got his stories from and what makes these plays, now over 400 years old, universally acknowledged as great masterpieces of theatre.

Morgan Freeman on The Taming Of The Shrew. In 1990, Morgan Freeman famously starred in a Wild West version of The Taming of The Shew for Shakespeare in the Park in New York. One of the bard’s very first works, Freeman sets out to understand how and why the play was written while the next edition sees Kim Cattrall on Antony & Cleopatra. The actress meets Janet Suzman who is renowned for her performance of Cleopatra with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Together, they begin to uncover the truth behind Shakespeare’s “middle-aged” love story. Cattrall also travels to Rome and examines possible inspirations for the play.

Joseph Fiennes investigates– Romeo & Juliet. The star of Shakespeare in Love examines Royal Ballet productions, musicals such as West Side Story, and Baz Luhrmann’s extraordinary cinematic re-imagination of Romeo & Juliet to understand why the love story remains the most adapted and performed of all of Shakespeare’s works while episode four sees Hugh Bonneville look at A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Hugh started his career as an understudy for Ralph Fiennes in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Open Air Theatre in London’s Regent’s Park. He revisits the theatre where his love for Shakespeare blossomed and catches up with Ralph to talk about why the play has enduring appeal.

David Harewood is interested in the story of Othello for episode five of the series. In 1997, David Harewood was the first ever black actor to play Othello on stage at the National Theatre in London. In this episode, he unravels the complex issues of prejudice and jealousy which are threaded throughout the play, as well as returning to the National to meet the most recent actor to take on the role at the theatre, Adrian Lester.

In the final edition Christopher Plummer looks at King Lear. The actor originally played the role of King Lear under the direction of Sir Jonathan Miller, who has directed the play six times. Plummer explores how the work might have been staged during Shakespeare’s time and acclaimed actors Sir Ian McKellen and Simon Russell Beale give their insight into playing the part of the troubled King.

My Shakespeare starts Monday 22nd September on Sky Arts 1 HD. Pictured: William Shakespeare in stained glass at the Chateau Impney Hotel in Warwickshire.

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