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Playing Shakespeare 

John Barton holds a master class in how to play Shakespeare, using members of the RSC doing scenes, sonnets, and commentary as prime examples.








Complete series cast summary:
John Barton John Barton ...  Himself 9 episodes, 1982
David Suchet ...  Himself 7 episodes, 1982
Lisa Harrow ...  Herself 6 episodes, 1982
Alan Howard ...  Himself 6 episodes, 1982
Ben Kingsley ...  Himself 5 episodes, 1982
Michael Pennington ...  Himself 5 episodes, 1982
Patrick Stewart ...  Himself 5 episodes, 1982
Susan Fleetwood ...  Herself 4 episodes, 1982
Sheila Hancock ...  Herself 4 episodes, 1982


In 1979 Trevor Nunn, then artistic director of Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company, devised a two-part television workshop to consider the art and technique of acting in Shakespeare's plays. He was joined by RSC co-founder and Associate Director John Barton and a group of the leading actors of the day, including Alan Howard, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Jane Lapotaire, David Suchet, Michael Pennington and Terry Hands. The programs were co-produced with London Weekend Television and broadcast on consecutive Sunday evenings as part of the South Bank Show series, collectively titled "Word of Mouth." Four years later Mr. Barton greatly expanded the series with nine additional installments, which he hosted. To the roster of actors were added Tony Church, Sinead Cusak, Mike Gwilym, Susan Fleetwood, Sheila Hancock, Lisa Harrow, Ben Kingsley, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Richard Pasco, Norman Rodway and Donald Sinden. Three episodes featured extended turns by leading lights Judi Dench, Roger Rees ... Written by John Chapot

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Release Date:

29 July 1982 (UK) See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK

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Technical Specs

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User Reviews

Commercial release June 2, 2009
29 March 2009 | by jcpoSee all my reviews

After a long spell of unavailability this series will be released commercially in the US. Release date is set for 6/2/2009. The publisher is Acorn Media Group, Athena line. Retail vendors are lining up on Amazon. The selling price is about $80 US. It will also be available from Netflix. A check on Amazon UK yielded no results, but it is reasonable to expect a worldwide release.

This is an extraordinary instructional video. After its initial airing on the South Bank Show in the UK, which ended in 1984, the series was picked up by Films for the Humanities. Their intended American audience was high-end libraries who could afford the near-$1000 price for the eleven VHS tapes. One hopes that the sales provided a good revenue stream for the good folks at FFH and the artists at the RSC. Some pioneering American theater artists purchased sets as well, and their audiences were much the better for the performances they attended.

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