Currently being broadcast on ABC TV and available on iview, Shakespeare Uncovered is a fantastic series.
This week's episode is on Macbeth, one of the greatest pieces of literature in the English language, and is presented by Ethan Hawke.
Hawke approaches the topic by going through a process of working out how he would play Macbeth by viewing previous productions, consulting Shakespearean (including Stephen Greenblatt) and historical experts and actors who have played major parts in significant productions of the play. It is a great insight into acting methods, as well as Macbeth.
Hawke focuses on the psychology of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and the workings of their relationship. He also does a great job on the witches and the role of the supernatural in Macbeth.
Key question: do the witches lead Macbeth to evil, or do they simply spark a seed that was always there?
Interesting observation: the Macbeths marriage was the strongest such relationship in Shakespeare's work!!
One of my favourite observations was by an actor (forget his name unfortunately) who said that Shakespeare's great gift was that he didn't hold his characters at arm's length, as if Macbeth was someone else instead Shakespeare is saying 'look he is me and you, he is us'. Uncomfortable, but makes for powerful drama.
The first episode last week was on Twelfth Night and As You Like It and was hosted by Joely Richardson, Shakespearean actor with an impeccable pedigree - she interviews her mother Vanessa Redgrave extensively, especially about her performance of the role of Rosalind in As You Like It early in her career.