Michael Pennington shares with his audience his experiences performing and studying Shakespeare over 50 years by weaving together performance and analysis of the life and work of Shakespeare. In his affable and cultured manner, he takes the audience through the well-established facts of Shakespeare's life, about which, he points out, we know quite a bit if we examine the plays. About the "lost years" between his time in Warwickshire and his arrival in London, Pennington finds clues in the sonnets to indicate that Shakespeare may have been a travelling actor, albeit one who was "always complaining about the script."
As he worked his way through the canon, Pennington detected a shift in Shakespeare's work from the reign of Elizabeth to that of James I. Within days of James's ascension in 1603, Shakespeare's company was given the royal patent and, as the King's Men, they played at court every three weeks and profits soared. The Jacobean plays, Pennington found, were subversive and critical of an excessive and corrupt court.
Pennington chose pieces to perform as examples of Shakespeare's humanity and to demonstrate what the actor views as the playwright's political and social views. He performs speeches by Prince Mamilius, Cleopatra, Mistress Quickly, Dromio, Pericles, Queen Margaret, Justice Shallow and Timon of Athens, as well as the seldom performed Richard of Gloucester in Henry VI Part III.
– Contributed by the CST Education Department