Plague and the Playhouse

05.08.2012 - By Shakespeare's Restless World

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Neil MacGregor, former Director of the British Museum, continues his object-based history. Taking artefacts from William Shakespeare's time, he explores how Elizabethan and Jacobean playgoers made sense of the unstable and rapidly changing world in which they lived.

With old certainties shifting around them, in a time of political and religious unrest and economic expansion, Neil asks what the plays would have meant to the public when they were first performed. He uses carefully selected objects to explore the great issues of the day that preoccupied the public and helped shape the works, and he considers what they can reveal about the concerns and beliefs of Shakespearean England.

Programme 17. PLAGUE & THE PLAYHOUSE - May 1603 saw not only a new king but the worst plague outbreak since the Black Death. Its impact and reach is told through a series of early seventeenth century proclamations.

This programme was originally broadcast in 2012.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

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