The Essential Shakespeare Live

The British Library

The Essential Shakespeare Live
Listen to samples from the CD.

The British Library

Distributed for British Library

2 CDs with booklet | © 2005
Compact Disc $25.00 ISBN: 9780712305242 Published February 2010 For sale in North and South America only

The British Library and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) join forces to publish this remarkable audio treasury of live Shakespearian performances. Selected from an extensive collection of recordings made by the British Library Sound Archive, these two double CD sets offer scenes and speeches from some of the most celebrated Shakespeare productions in the history of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The extracts cover almost half a century of productions, from Laurence Olivier as Coriolanus in 1959 to Ian McKellen as King Lear in 2007.  Both Essential Shakespeare Live and Essential Shakespeare Encore! also include booklets that reproduce the play-text of each recorded extract in full along with introductions by Gregory Doran, Chief Association Director of the RSC.

            Essential Shakespeare Live features such notable actors of stage and screen as Judi Dench, Peter Brook, John Barton, Peggy Ashcroft, Alan Howard, Derek Jacobi, Ian McKellen, Alan Rickman, Anthony Sher, Donald Sinden, Robert Stephens, Patrick Stewart, Janet Suzman, and David Warner.  Among the plays included in the set are King Lear, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, All’s Well that Ends Well, Henry V, and Richard III.


Running time: 136 minutes

Track Listing:

1. Coriolanus (featuring Laurence Olivier) 6.14
2. Wars of the Roses (featuring Peggy Ashcroft) 4.19
3. King Lear [1964] (featuring Paul Scofield) 8.40
4. Hamlet (featuring David Warner) 2.12
5. Twelfth Night (featuring Donald Sinden) 8.33
6. Julius Caesar (featuring Patrick Stewart) 8.31
7. Antony and Cleopatra (featuring Janet Suzman) 7.08
8. Richard II (featuring Richard Pasco & Ian Richardson) 10.51
9. Romeo and Juliet (featuring Ian McKellen & Francesca Annis) 11.59


1. Comedy of Errors (featuring Roger Rees) 4.23
2. Henry V (featuring Emrys James) 1.51
3. Henry V (featuring Alan Howard) 4.08
4. The Tempest (featuring Derek Jacobi & Mark Rylance) 4.21
5. Richard III (featuring Antony Sher) 10.58
6. As You Like It (featuring Alan Rickman) 11.15
7. The Merry Wives of Windsor (featuring Janet Dale 6.22
8. Titus Andronicus (featuring Brian Cox) 7.25
9. Henry IV Part 1 (featuring Robert Stephens) 2.45
10. Henry VI Part 3 (featuring David Oyelowo 4.45
11. All’s Well that Ends Well (featuring Judi Dench) 8.59

Review Quotes
Telegraph (UK)
"What a treasure trove these discs prove for lovers of Shakespare and great acting. . . . I cannot recommend them too highly to anyone who loves Shakespeare."
Sam Leith | Guardian
"It's fascinating to listen to. You can hear the changes, across the decades, in how actors read their lines (more freely these days), and in how the audience reacts (more vocal now). You also get a sense of the glorious plasticity of Shakespeare's material, how much it can change in different hands."
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