‘Hamlet’ revision podcast 4: the first soliloquy

May 18th, 2011

Our 29th podcast is the fourth in a series looking at the play Hamlet leading up to the Leaving Certificate next month, and is a close examination of Hamlet's first soliloquy, 'O that this too too solid flesh...', putting the speech in its context and looking at how it expresses the character's deepest feelings about his mother.

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‘Hamlet’ revision podcast 3: the first scene

May 8th, 2011

Our 28th podcast deals with the first scene in the play Hamlet, which sets a mood of uncertainty, and prefigures some central themes of the play, such as the disruption of the natural order, identity and revenge. The first two podcasts in our revision series prior to the Leaving Certificate exams gathered together individual short talks on 10 characters in Hamlet - the first one was on 1) Fortinbras, 2) Horatio, 3) Laertes, 4) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, 5) Polonius; the second on 7) Ophelia, 8 ) The Player King, 9) Osric, 10) The First Gravedigger.

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6 Characters in ‘Hamlet’

March 12th, 2011

This podcast gathers together the first five short 'audioboos' from our series 10 Characters from 'Hamlet', which deal with six characters: 1) Fortinbras, 2) Horatio, 3) Laertes, 4) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, 5) Polonius. Another podcast will put together the remaining four when complete.

The series looks at the 'lesser' characters in the play, in five-minute chunks. Note that there is a brief gap between each talk.

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King Lear revision podcast 6: the end of the play

May 27th, 2010

Our 23rd podcast is the final one of 6 on King Lear. This looks at the end of the play, considering how the famously bleak ending is constructed by Shakespeare. Lear so nearly becomes a play with a comic ending (like its sources and Nahum Tate's rewritten 1681 version). Instead, there is no mitigation: all is dark horror.

To read Tate's version, click here (go to page 66 for the ending).

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King Lear revision podcast 5: blindness and seeing

May 20th, 2010

Using the notorious scene in which Gloucester is blinded as a starting point, this talk looks at ideas of blindness and seeing throughout the play, particularly in the stories of the two old 'blind' men, Lear and Gloucester. Lear undergoes a humanising process of development, and starts to 'see' real truths about himself and society; however, in the end this matters little, as he is exposed to devastating grief on the death of his daughter Cordelia

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King Lear revision podcast 4: quotation auto-test

May 16th, 2010

Our 21st podcast features ten quotations from King Lear; you can pause your computer or MP3 player after each, and test yourself on who spoke the words, and their context, and then listen to the answers and a commentary on the quotation. These commentaries examine the quotations as key moments in the play, linking them to the rest of the text, and again trying to prompt fresh reflection on the themes and characters.

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King Lear revision podcast 3: Kent and Albany, two good guys

May 6th, 2010

Our 20th podcast is the third in a series of revision sessions on King Lear, prior to the Leaving Certificate. This talk examines the role of two minor but important characters in the play, the Dukes of Kent and Albany, and how they affect the central story and its themes. Both are decent men; while Albany needs to travel on a path of moral development, Kent is the most clear-sighted and steadfast character in the play. In the end, however, their decency cannot prevent the tragedy.

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King Lear revision 2: ‘All’s cheerless, dark and deadly’

April 29th, 2010

Our 19th podcast is the second in a series of revision talks on King Lear, prior to the Leaving Certificate in early June. The first one examined Act I scene i. This second podcast looks at the extreme bleakness of Shakespeare's vision in the play, especially through its treatment of religion and the gods. The gods are often invoked in King Lear, and on the surface in it ancient Britain seems to be a highly religious society. But in fact there is no stage at which heaven seems to be active or effective. The play disabuses its audience of the notion that there is any benevolent power above which will protect us from ourselves.

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King Lear revision 1: the opening scene

April 22nd, 2010

Our 18th podcast is the first in a series of weekly revision talks on Shakespeare's King Lear, leading up to the Leaving Certificate in early June. Like last year's Macbeth revision podcasts, these are designed to freshen up thinking. Each lasts about 10-15 minutes.

The first King Lear talk examines the explosive and crucial opening scene, during which the King sets in train the disastrous train of events which leads to personal and public catastrophe.

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Actiontrack: an interview with Nick Brace

June 11th, 2009

Our 13th podcast is an interview with the Artistic Director of the Actiontrack Performance Company, Nick Brace. Actiontrack have been coming to us since 1993, working with II formers in March, and with Transition Year in particular at the end of each year in 'showbuilds'. Nick discusses the process in which a musical production is created from scratch in five days, involving song-writing, singing, dancing, set design and of course acting. He also talks about Actiontrack's work generally, including local work in Somerset with schools, youth groups and communities. Actiontrack's website is here.

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