Mixed Me­dia

A month of Shake­speare films

Pasatiempo - - NEWS -

The Bri­tish Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion has a long and sto­ried his­tory of beaming out Shake­speare. As early as 1937 it was pro­duc­ing se­lected scenes di­rected for the small screen, and in 1938 it sent out its first trans­mis­sion of a com­plete Shake­speare play, a mod­ern-dress pre­sen­ta­tion of Julius Cae­sar. These broad­casts ended with the on­set of World War II in 1939, and none of the com­pany’s pre-war ma­te­rial has sur­vived. Things picked up again in the late ’40s, af­ter which broad­casts of com­plete plays and Shake­speare amal­ga­ma­tions started to ap­pear again, of­ten with very no­table ac­tors and direc­tors from the “mod­ern” era of Shake­speare. From 1978 through 1985, the BBC fa­mously pro­duced a se­ries of 37 episodes that com­prised the Bard’s com­plete dra­matic works adapted specif­i­cally for tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion.

To cel­e­brate the 400th an­niver­sary of Shake­speare’s pass­ing, which will be ob­served on April 23, BBC World­wide North Amer­ica is dis­tribut­ing four of its clas­sic Shake­speare pro­duc­tions, each from a dif­fer­ent decade, plus a general en­rich­ment pro­gram. The se­ries will be screened at no charge at the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts (1050 Old Pe­cos Trail, 505-982-1338) for the next five week­ends, each pre­sen­ta­tion be­ing given twice on at­tached Satur­day and Sun­day morn­ings at 11 a.m. First up, on Satur­day, April 2, and Sun­day, April 3, is As You Like It, from 1963, in a co-pro­duc­tion with the Royal Shake­speare Com­pany. This romp around the For­est of Ar­den was a ca­reer-defin­ing high­light for Vanessa Red­grave, in the cen­tral role of Ros­alind.

On April 9 and April 10, there will be more forested shenani­gans in the guise of A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream, an in­stall­ment of the BBC’s pop­u­lar “Play of the Month” se­ries in 1971. It was shot on lo­ca­tion at Scot­ney Cas­tle in Kent, and with quite a cast: Eileen Atkins as Ti­ta­nia, Robert Stephens as Oberon, Lynn Red­grave as He­lena, Michael Gam­bon as Th­e­seus, and Ron­nie Barker as Bot­tom. Move ahead to April 16 and April 17, and it’s time for tragedy: King Lear, with Ian Holm in the ti­tle role, di­rected by Richard Eyre. Back to a lighter note, the week­end of April 23 and April 24 is given over to a 90-minute con­den­sa­tion of The

Tam­ing of the Shrew, from 2005, a pro­duc­tion from the BBC’s “Shake­speare Re-Told” se­ries, in which a re­write by Sally Wain­wright sets the ac­tion in the midst of mod­ern pol­i­tick­ing in Par­lia­ment, with Shirley Hen­der­son as Kate and Ru­fus Sewell as Petru­chio.

To pull ev­ery­thing to­gether, the screen­ings con­clude on April 30 and May 1 with Shake­speare and Us, in which cul­tural his­to­rian Si­mon Schama con­sid­ers the Bard’s world of kings and courtiers, aris­to­crats and bawds, squires and cut­purses. Ek­ing out his charm­ing com­men­tary are scenes played by the likes of Judi Dench, Si­mon Rus­sell Beale, and Har­riet Wal­ter. — James M. Keller

Young rebel: Vanessa Red­grave

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