A four part series exploring the life of the world's greatest and most famous writer. Presenter-led, mixing travel, adventure, live action interviews and specially shot documentary and live action sequences with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

A History series - it focuses not on the plays, but on the history and sets the life of the poet in the extraordinary times in which he lived. We are introduced to the dark world of Queen Elizabeth's police state - a time of surveillance, militarism and foreign wars. We are reminded that Shakespeare lived through the Spanish Armada, the Gunpowder Plot, the colonisation of the New World and the beginnings of British power in America.

But most importantly Shakespeare also lived through England's Cultural Revolution: an enforced split with the old medieval English spirit world which was to lead the English people into a brave new Protestant future. A split which defined Shakespeare's life -and our modern world.

In Search of Shakespeare - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 60 minutes

Premier: 2005-11-14

In Search of Shakespeare - As You Like It - Netflix

As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 and first published in the First Folio in 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility. As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle's court, accompanied by her cousin Celia to find safety and, eventually, love, in the Forest of Arden. In the forest, they encounter a variety of memorable characters, notably the melancholy traveller Jaques who speaks many of Shakespeare's most famous speeches (such as “All the world's a stage”, “too much of a good thing” and “A fool! A fool! I met a fool in the forest”). Jaques provides a sharp contrast to the other characters in the play, always observing and disputing the hardships of life in the country. Historically, critical response has varied, with some critics finding the play a work of great merit and some finding the work of lesser quality than other Shakespearean works. The play remains a favourite among audiences and has been adapted for radio, film, and musical theatre. The piece has been a favorite of famous actors on stage and screen, notably Vanessa Redgrave, Juliet Stevenson, Maggie Smith, Rebecca Hall, Helen Mirren, and Patti LuPone in the role of Rosalind and Alan Rickman, Stephen Spinella, Kevin Kline, Stephen Dillane, and Ellen Burstyn in the role of Jaques.

In Search of Shakespeare - Sources - Netflix

Some have suggested two other minor debts. The first is Michael Drayton's Poly-Olbion, a poetic description of England, but there is no evidence that the poem was written before As You Like It. The second suggested source is The Historie of Orlando Furioso by Robert Greene, acted about 1592. It is suggested that Shakespeare derived the idea of Orlando's carving his lady's name on barks of trees from this play, but a lover carving love-poems on barks of trees was already in Lodge's tale.

The direct and immediate source of As You Like It is Thomas Lodge's Rosalynde, Euphues Golden Legacie, written 1586-7 and first published in 1590. Lodge's story is based upon “The Tale of Gamelyn”, wrongly attributed to Geoffrey Chaucer and sometimes printed among his Canterbury Tales. Although it was first printed in 1721, “The Tale Gamelyn” must have existed in manuscript form in Shakespeare's time. It is doubtful that Shakespeare had read it, but Lodge must have built his pastoral romance on the foundation of “The Tale of Gamelyn,” giving it a pastoral setting and the artificial sentimental vein, much in fashion at the time. The tale provided the intertwined plots, and suggested all the characters except Touchstone and Jaques.

In Search of Shakespeare - References - Netflix