the power of audio drama to teach, to learn, to enjoy

Literature for life

Shakespeare Appreciated is the first range of audio entertainments from SmartPass, created for anyone who wants to understand just what all the fuss is about. So if school turned you off Shakespeare, then find out what you’ve been missing all these years with our beautifully crafted audio, featuring actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the BBC radio repertory, as well as especially composed music.

Presented as unabridged drama, the play is brought alive through full-cast performance and entertaining commentary that explains who’s who, and what’s going on as the plot unfolds. To help you get the most out of Shakespeare, the commentary offers historical insights and background information, so you enjoy the jokes, appreciate the references, and get a real sense of Shakespeare’s world. Not only will you understand the language, themes, and power of the Bard – possibly for the first time – but you’ll also be able to amaze your friends with your cultural knowledge!

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King Lear by William Shakespeare (unabridged)

Too dark, too cruel, too violent. Experience Shakespeare’s original King Lear, powerfully performed with insightful commentary, and judge for yourself whether his almost apocalyptic vision should have been kept off the stage for more than 300 years. As an aged leader underestimates the impact of retiring, dividing his kingdom, and passing the reins of power to the next generation, Shakespeare shows us a world on the brink. As wisdom and age are replaced by ambition and youth, we see the former king in free-fall, dropping through the social order, estranged from his family, fighting to retain his identity and sanity.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (unabridged)

Discover not only the timeless beauty of Shakespeare’s first tragic masterpiece, but uncover his own story of love and loss as we delve into the worlds of Romeo and Juliet, and the man behind it. Journey back to London in 1591, gripped by plague, and experience the society in which William Shakespeare lives and writes. Our full-cast unabridged production – winner of the bronze award for Best Drama, Spoken Word Awards 2004 in the format of a study guide – will leave you spell-bound while our all-new commentary will make everything clear.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare (unabridged)

How did Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up parliament lead to the writing of Macbeth? How did the King’s trials and executions of witches influence the writing of Macbeth? Could this masterpiece have been written in only 10 days? Our guided production of Macbeth brings Shakespeare’s bizarre tragedy of supernatural omens, murders and ghosts alive through powerful performance and insightful commentary that answers all your questions, and more.

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare (unabridged)

The granddaddy of all black comedies is presented as full-cast drama with guided commentary that illuminates Shakespeare’s world. In a period of personal mourning, we shed light on how he created a topsy-turvy world of comic sadness and melancholy humour. With the background in place and the finer points of the language explained, Shakespeare’s vision is fully realised so that his comedy can be whole-heartedly enjoyed. So, if you’ve ever wondered how 400 year old jokes can be funny – this is a must!

Henry V by William Shakespeare (unabridged)

Shakespeare’s greatest history play is alive today, because the subject of war is as relevant in the modern world as it was during the time of King Henry V. With religious and political intrigue and plotting, Henry V is possibly the greatest artistic comment ever created about war. With a powerful full-cast unabridged production – winner of two silver Spoken Word Awards, 2005, for Best Original Audio and Publishing Initiative, in the format of a study guide – our commentary offers historical and social perspective, while looking at the morals and ethics of war.

Othello by William Shakespeare (unabridged)

Racism, sexism, ageism, murder, and the greatest villain of world literature. The tension of Othello will leave you speechless, while the true story of the Moors’ experience of early 17th century London, may make you see England and Shakespeare in a new light. Arguably the greatest of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Othello is a nail-biting tour-de-force that has shocked audiences for 400 years. Proof positive that Shakespeare’s writing is still relevant, as modern audiences draw parallels with the Christian Muslim situation today.

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