The RSC Live Collection

Plays

video Cymbeline (RSC)

The Royal Shakespeare Company
Type: Video

Britain is in crisis. Alienated, insular and on the brink of disaster. Can it be saved? An ineffectual Queen Cymbeline rules over a divided dystopian Britain. Consumed with grief at the death of two of her children, Cymbeline’s judgement is clouded. When Innogen, the only living heir, marries her sweetheart Posthumus in secret, an enraged Cymbeline banishes him. Behind the throne, a power-hungry figure plots to seize power by murdering them both. In exile, Innogen’s husband is tricked into believing she has been unfaithful to him and, in an act of impulsive jealousy, begins a scheme to have her murdered. Warned of the danger, Innogen runs away from court in disguise and begins a journey fraught with danger that will eventually reunite Cymbeline with a longlost heir and reconcile the young lovers.

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video Hamlet (RSC)

The Royal Shakespeare Company
Type: Video

Hamlet has the world at his feet. Young, wealthy and living a hedonistic life studying abroad. Then word reaches him that his father is dead. Returning home he finds his world is utterly changed, his certainties smashed and his home a foreign land. Struggling to understand his place in a new world order he faces a stark choice. Submit, or rage against the injustice of his new reality. Simon Godwin (The Two Gentlemen of Verona 2014) directs Paapa Essiedu as Hamlet in Shakespeare's searing tragedy. As relevant today as when it was written, Hamlet confronts each of us with the mirror of our own mortality in an imperfect world.

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video Henry IV Part 1 (RSC)

The Royal Shakespeare Company
Type: Video

With his crown under threat from enemies both foreign and domestic, Henry IV prepares for war. Having deposed the previous king, he is only too aware how tenuous his position is, and the price to be paid if he falters. As his father prepares to defend his crown, Prince Hal is languishing in the taverns and brothels of London, revelling in the company of his friend, the notorious Sir John Falstaff. With the onset of war, Hal and Falstaff are thrust into the brutal reality of the battlefield, where Hal must confront his responsibilities to family and throne.

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video Henry IV Part 2 (RSC)

The Royal Shakespeare Company
Type: Video

King Henry's health is failing as a second rebellion against his reign threatens to surface. Intent on securing his legacy, he is uncertain that his son Hal is a worthy heir, believing him more concerned with earthly pleasures than the responsibility of rule. Sir John Falstaff is sent to the countryside to recruit fresh troops. Amongst the unwitting locals, opportunities for embezzlement and profiteering prove impossible to resist as Falstaff gleefully indulges in the business of lining his own pockets. As the King's health continues to worsen, Hal must choose between duty and loyalty to an old friend.

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video Henry V (RSC)

The Royal Shakespeare Company
Type: Video

Henry IV is dead and Hal is King. With England in a state of unrest, he must leave his rebellious youth behind, striving to gain the respect of his nobility and people. Laying claim to parts of France and following an insult from the French Dauphin, Henry gathers his troops and prepares for a war that he hopes will unite his country. Gregory Doran continues his exploration of Shakespeare’s History Plays with Henry V performed in the 600th anniversary year of the Battle of Agincourt. Following his performance as Hal in Henry IV Parts I & II Alex Hassell returns as Henry V.

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video King Lear (RSC)

The Royal Shakespeare Company
Type: Video

King Lear has ruled for many years. As age begins to overtake him, he decides to divide his kingdom amongst his children, living out his days without the burden of power. A proud man, he allows vanity to cloud his judgment, believing that he can relinquish the crown, but enjoy the same authority and respect he has always known. Misjudging his children’s loyalty he soon finds himself stripped of all the trappings of state, wealth and power he had taken for granted. Alone in the wilderness he is left to confront the mistakes of a life that has brought him to this point. Following his performance as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s great 20th century American tragedy Death of a Salesman, Antony Sher returns to play King Lear, one of the greatest parts written by Shakespeare. The production is directed by the RSC’s Artistic Director Gregory Doran.

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video Love's Labou'rs Lost (RSC)

The Royal Shakespeare Company
Type: Video

Summer 1914. In order to dedicate themselves to a life of study, the King and his friends take an oath to avoid the company of women for three years. No sooner have they made their idealistic pledge than the Princess of France and her ladies-in-waiting arrive, presenting the men with a severe test of their high-minded resolve. Shakespeare's sparkling comedy delights in championing and then unravelling an unrealistic vow, and mischievously suggesting that the study of the opposite sex is in fact the highest of all academic endeavours.

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video Love's Labour's Won ("Much Ado About Nothing") (RSC)

The Royal Shakespeare Company
Type: Video

Autumn 1918. A group of soldiers returns from the trenches. The world weary Benedick and his friend Claudio find themselves reacquainted with Beatrice and Hero. As memories of conflict give way to a life of parties and masked balls, Claudio and Hero fall madly, deeply in love, while Benedick and Beatrice reignite their own rather more combative courtship. Shakespeare's comic romance plays out amidst the brittle high spirits of a post-war house party, as youthful passions run riot, lovers are deceived and happiness is threatened – before peace ultimately wins out.

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video The Merchant of Venice (RSC)

The Royal Shakespeare Company
Type: Video

In the melting pot of Venice, trade is God. With its ships plying the globe, the city opens its arms to all – as long as they come prepared to do business and there is profit to be made. When the gold is flowing, all is well – but when a contract between Bassanio and Shylock is broken, simmering racial tensions boil over. A wronged father, and despised outsider, Shylock looks to exact the ultimate price for a deal sealed in blood.

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video Othello (RSC)

The Royal Shakespeare Company
Type: Video

Othello is the greatest general of his age. A fearsome warrior, loving husband and revered defender of Venice against its enemies. But he is also an outsider whose victories have created enemies of his own, men driven by prejudice and jealousy to destroy him. As they plot in the shadows, Othello realises too late that the greatest danger lies not in the hatred of others, but his own fragile and destructive pride. Iqbal Khan’s ground-breaking production of Othello was the first RSC production to cast a black actor, Lucian Msamati, as Iago. RSC Associate Artist, Hugh Quarshie, returned to the Company to play the title role with Joanna Vanderham at Desdemona and Ayesha Dharker as Emilia.

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The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world. The RSC produces an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers.

In 2013 the company began live screenings of its Shakespeare productions, captured here in The RSC Live Collection. In 2016-17 the company collaborated with Intel and The Imaginarium Studios to stage The Tempest, bringing performance capture to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre for the very first time.