Charity / Special Programme / Television / TV

John Simm: In Love With Shakespeare

Sky Arts
Sky Arts 1 HD
Premiering Saturday 28 May 6.30pm

Finest thespian talents unite for a celebration of Shakespeare

Catherine Tate

Catherine Tate

A cast of some of the country’s finest actors has assembled for a celebration of Shakespeare’s greatest speeches.

Simon Callow, Stephen Campbell-Moore, Anthony Head, Robert Lindsay, Richard Madden, Jonathan Pryce, John Simm, Catherine Tate, Samuel West, Janie Dee and Colin Hurley, who appear in Shakespeare’s Globe’s 2011 season, will recite a selection of some of the best of the Bard’s monologues in a series of Shakespeare shorts.

The pieces were chosen by each actor as their particular favourite and have been filmed to celebrate the work of organisations and charities including Shakespeare Country, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and Shakespeare’s Globe.

A 30 minute film, which will broadcast all the speeches, will premiere on Saturday 28 May. The individual monologues will then be broadcast throughout May and June on both Sky Arts 1 and 2.

Simon Callow

Simon Callow

Simon Callow will recite one of Shakespeare’s best-known battle speeches, ‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends,’ from Henry V. Catherine Tate’s chosen passage is Hermione’s speech ‘Sir, spare your threats,’ from The Winter’s Tale, the climax of the play in Act III, where she defends her honour against her jealous husband Leontes.

Jonathan Pryce will enact perhaps one of the most famous speeches of them all, Hamlet’s celebrated ‘To be or not to be’ while Samuel West will perform the most famous speech of Richard II: ‘No matter where; of comfort no man speak,’ the speech which marks Richard out as one of Shakespeare’s most poetic characters.

Stephen Campbell-Moore’s choice is one of the most highly quoted of all the speeches, Mark Anthony’s funeral oration from Julius Caesar, “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears.” John Simm’s chosen passage is from Hamlet, Act II, scene 2: ‘Oh what a rogue and peasant slave am I,’ the speech in which the conflicted Hamlet berates himself for being a coward in failing to avenge his father’s death.

Robert Lindsay

Robert Lindsay

Robert Lindsay will perform Edmund’s ‘Why “bastard”?’ speech from King Lear. Richard Madden’s chosen passage is the declaration of war from the famous tennis ball scene in Henry V. Actors Janie Dee and Colin Hurley are both currently appearing in the Globe’s production of All’s Well that End’s Well, and will perform extracts from the play: the Countess of Rousillon’s sensual soliloquy, and the comic duologue in Act 2, Scene 2, with Dee as the Countess and Hurley as her clown servant Levache. Anthony Head will tackle Cardinal Wolsey’s monologue from Henry VIII, Act 3 Scene 2: ‘So farewell to the little good you bear me.’ His daughter Emilie Head, best known as Carli from the hit series The Inbetweeners, will perform a favourite monologue as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.

“I couldn’t imagine a better cast to come together in celebration of the very best of the Bard,” comments James Hunt, Channel Director of Sky Arts. “We’re delighted that this remarkable selection of our finest thespians were so keen to take part and reveal their favourite pieces for the channel. The performances are a remarkable and fitting celebration of some of the greatest speeches ever written.”

In Love with Shakespeare is a B Good Picture Company Production and is directed by Joe Stephenson.

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